August 23, 2012

Just hopping along...

Finally it's my turn to present myself and my blog. What can I possibly tell you? My brain seems empty and hollow... After all these great tutorials, advice on blogging and exciting blogs I feel a bit intimidated.

Before you get the impression this lady sounds like a creaky door, perhaps I should stop whining and introduce myself instead.

Hi, my name is May. I'm a leftover parent of two wonderful daughters and live in Germany since 30 years. During daytime I work for my bread and butter and in the evenings I usually drop down in my favourite chair, brain dead like now. I’m also mama of two bees and one UFO game.

So what about quilting
Yes, what about it? To tell the truth I began in 2008, or was it 2009 (don't really remember) only to get my childhood chum Åsa off my back. She was eternally flaunting those magnificent quilts of hers in my face and telling my tall tales about how much fun it is. Sewing fun? No way!!! I resisted her siren calls for almost 10 years. Then one day I bought some stuff and began with a small hand pieced Christmas quilt. From that day on I was hooked. First I bought a sewing machine (used and very modest), then some more fabrics, then some rulers...
Now almost 5 years later my Christmas quilt still isn't finished and I'm adding new items to my UFO list almost on a daily basis. Åsa doesn't quilt anymore. She's just knitting, knitting or colouring more wool to do some more knitting. (a good thing she can't read)

Advice for new bloggers
Frankly, if you’ve read all the good advice given on the blog hop there isn’t anything earthshaking for me to add. I just love it and regret I didn’t start earlier. Blogging is fun, but what I like most of all is to hang out with the other ladies in Bloglandia. If I had to give some advice it would be:

Don't forget that there are real people out there reading your blog, behave like you would in real life. Don't forget your manners; say hello when you visit and say thank you if you use something from another blog.

Advice for new quilters 
Well, if you’re asking for my advice it’s like putting a fox in charge of the henhouse. I just chop a lot of fabric into small pieces and attach the slices again. I love playing with the fabrics, colours and patterns. But - and here is the big but - I cannot quilt with my sewing machine and my hand quilting abilities are amendable. My quilt tops are piling up, waiting for a new sewing machine.

If I had to give some advice it would be: sew as accurately as possible. It saves time and money. Yes, it does!

My favourite quilting tool 
The Omnigrid 96L triangle ruler. I use it for most everything. 

About my tutorial
For my tutorial I wanted to unite my bread and butter part (occupational health and safety),  blogging and quilting. A bit of my newest swoon, reverse appliqué is included as well.

Did you know that your skin is your biggest body part? It has an area of 2 m² and it feels, breathes and protects you. If you’ve ever had a skin rush you know much it can hurt, so you should take good care of your skin.

Whatever has quilting anything to do with your skin? Well, if you have a laptop and place it on your knees, your skin will be exposed to the heat radiating from your laptop. This heat can damage your skin permanently if you don’t take care. It’s called “the toasted skin syndrome”, or Erythema ab igne (EAB). Worst case - it can lead to skin cancer. Of course you need to spend a lot of time with your laptop on your lap to get the toasted skin syndrome, but we all know how easy it is to forget everything around you when surfing around. The way I'm thinking, even if my skin isn't toasted crisp, there sure are to be some damages before it gets that bad.

You could place a book under your laptop to reduce the heat exposure, but that’s not a very good solution. The book has to be the same size as your laptop and that usually means a lot of weight. If the book is too thin it can bend and get creases.

So why not make a giant potholder? It’s light weight and doesn’t mind if you bend it around a bit.

Skin protector tutorial

For my skin protector I chose two fabrics and a piece of insulating batting (for pot holders). I measured my laptop and cut one of the fabrics (fabric A) and the insulation batting accordingly. To pep up my skin protector I chose a pattern for reverse appliqué for the front. For the reverse appliqué a smaller piece of fabric is enough. This skin protector is really big!

Instructions for cutting

2 pieces of fabric A              18" x 16"   
1 piece of insulating batting   18" x 16"  
1 piece of fabric B                11" x 11"

3 long strips 2 ½” from fabric B

The template for the flowerpower elk you find here

The template is smaller than the one I used for my skin protector. I magnified the template by 134% (from A4 to A3). You can of course use any size you want.
Put the template behind your fabric A and draw the outline with a pen. I used a white pen, so you cannot see it so well on the picture, sorry. 

Then put the piece of fabric B under the outline of the elk on fabric A and pin the fabrics together.

Baste the fabrics about  ½” along outline on the outside.

Next step is to cut out the interior of the elk (fabric A). Be careful that you only cut fabric A and not fabric B. You should cut ¼” away from the outline.

This is how my looked like after cutting the fabric away on the inside of the template.

Then you should make small cuts in the curves. Otherwise it is almost impossible to get nice rounded curves.

                                                                         Before you start sewing you should push the edges beneath the fabric along the outline.

Sew with small, invisible stitches. Use sewing cotton in the colour of fabric A. 

Reverse appliqué in detail

finished reverse appliqué
When you have finished your reverse appliqué it's time to gather the fabrics and the batting together. Make a sandwich of the two fabric A pieces and the insulating batting, with the wrong sides of the fabrics together and the batting in the middle.

Sew the three long pieces from fabric B together and use the resulting strip for the binding. You can find a good tutorial for making the binding here.

Voila, the skin protector is ready to use. As I wrote this tutorial I kept it under my laptop on my lap and it felt very good, much better than a book or toasted skin :-)

Thank you for your interest, don’t forget to visit the other great blogs participating in the blog hop. Most of all – thank you Beth for everything you've done for us! 

Todays bloghopper
Ginny from Fish Creek Studio

Next week

Aug 28
Lucy from Charm about you
Ella  from throw a wench in the works

Aug 30
Elaine from Dashasel Sews
Jess from the Elven Garden
Bye and welcome back again!

August 20, 2012

What can possibly go wrong?

The theme of the month in the Scrappy? Sew bee it! bee was a spiderweb block. Sana, our Queen bee, wrote a marvellous tutorial for the block with pictures. Everything easy piecy, nothing could go wrong I was told. (and much easier than my block as well)

Carla from Grace and Favour led the way and made her blocks before Sana had a chance to finish her tutorial. No need to say they look just fabulous, like everything Carla does.

I had my doubts about the easy piecy  and nothing can go wrong part, but duly set out to make my block. Rosa's (Rosa's Quilt and Tonic) written graphic instructions about how to make a block for this bee on her blog. I didn't use Rosa's dresscode (wouldn't want to give Mr. Grumpy any ideas), or burn my block, but that was about the only things I left out.

To get rid of my fears I made a small tryout. Everything was just fine and frankly it was a breeze, so onwards with the real thing. The block for Sana.

First I carefully chose my scraps from my scraps bin. Well, this was supposed to be a scrappy bee. My first mistake. 

Then I cut the strips and sew them together. Five strips 1 3/4" wide. My strips were all different lengths, but that didn't disturb me. Tranquilized by the tryout and the easy piecy – nothing can go wrong incantations I cut the first part and was very proud of my achievement – that is until I realized I had set the triangle ruler askew. 2nd mistake.

After a small hesitation, getting the blood pressure back to normal, back to the cutting board and the next one was due. Everything went just fine this time. Then I realized I had only fabrics for two parts. I had to make some scrap piecing again. Back to the cutting board cutting 1 ¾” strips. Then back to the sewing machine, some ironing and back again to the cutting mat. Once again I carefully placed the ruler and made my first cut. Then I realized I had pieced the strips together in the wrong order. 3rd mistake. So Jackie the Ripper had her fun and I was back again by the sewing machine. 

I’m not sure how many times I had to make new strips, because they were all of different lengths, but it really doesn’t matter. By a close shave I managed to get six pieces together and very proudly sewed them to make the block. Of course without checking the size. 4th mistake.

Here is my contribution to Sana’s wedding bed quilt.

It wasn’t until someone from the group asked about the size I woke up. I measured mine and it was 12”. Sana’s was 13”…Now I'm singing "Its too late, too late, too late now..."

August 17, 2012

Pay it forward

Hands off from new projects has been my motto for the last month or so. It still is.
Working on UFOs has its ups and downs. The up part is where you see progress and get that glowing feeling that what you are working on might be great. Perhaps even get finished.

The downs are where you realize why a UFO got to be an UFO in the first place. The hard place where you have to decide if it's really worth the efforts to “save” what you’ve done, or if it should mercifully be released of its pains…A quiet trip into the garden and there…. Booom! The lid shuts on the trash bin to hide any evidence of the deed.

Still, this cannot be all life has to offer, can it? I was really happy as Rachel from Mammafairy sews reminded me of how much fun it is to give things away and to receive a surprise gift myself in exchange.
This is what she wrote (a bit of copy and paste):

Here's the idea:

1. I will make something for the first 3 people to comment on this post. What I make will be a surprise, and could arrive anytime in the next year. It will be a random surprise in your mail box.
2. To sign up, you need to play along as well. (pay it forward) - post this, or something similar on your blog.

3. You must have a blog (or else where are you going to post this, silly?)
When you comment, I will email you to get your mailing address and you will receive something from me.  Let's spread the bloggy love, guys!

Just in case you are wondering, yes I will do international shipping.  

I’ve done it once before. I never received my gift and one of the ones I sent away came back again due to a bad address. I still have it; that is, most of it. The chocolates seem to have disappeared somewhere…One of those unsolved mysteries.

Still, it was great fun to figure out what to do and send those parcels away. I’m all in for another round. Just let me show you what I found in a parcel yesterday. I ordered something for the PIF and this is how it was packed. Cute idea, isn't it?

Perhaps one of these “sweets” has your name on it, that is, if you sign up and pay the spirit of giving forward in your turn. Or it could be something else, who knows. I have some hidden talents and lots of ideas...

August 10, 2012

About bees and swaps

About two months ago the lovely ladies Nicky (Mrs Sew and Sow) and Helen (Archie the wonder dog) started the Framed Purse swap. I had some serious doubts about my own abilities to make a framed purse, but signed up anyway. Along the way we got some gentle nudges and lots of advice about how to make these purses and where to buy the frames and patterns. Things like that. They did really good work, so thank you ladies for a new and great experience! If you hadn’t started this swap I would still be thinking about making one and postponing it again…

Each one of us was also given a secret swap partner and was told to be really quiet about it.  Mine was Jill from Texas, an expert quilter. I slyly stalked her, trying to find out her preferences, but I suppose I did a poor job of it. My purse was a typical first try type, let’s leave it at that.

Not so Jill’s. She made a tiny, little purse out of even tinier small pieces of fabric. Everything accurately pieced and sewn. In my fav colours, of course. 

This tiny little wonder was filled to the brim with cute buttons. 

What can I say but, wow! And thank you Jill for this great purse!
I needed a small purse for foreign coins, so this one is going to accompany me on my travels. And this is the selfmade card she sent.

And what about the bees? I participate in two bees; the Scrappy? Sew bee it! and the Star of Africa.
I’m really happy to be a part in these exciting journeys. Getting to know new people, working together, joking and learning new things from each other – I wouldn’t want to miss it for anything! It’s like a formicary, each and everyone contributes with a small part and their own skills. Thank you ladies! I’ll show you the results as soon as possible.

My first IRL experience

Things have been rather quiet around my blog these last three weeks, sorry about that. If you are now expecting stunning pictures from Peru or Zambia I have to disappoint you. I wasn’t travelling. No, I stayed quietly at home, slaving away at my UFOs. Sooo, show us some pictures! Well, can’t do that, nothing much to show. I’ve made some stitcheries and 15 blocks on my Joseph’s coat quilt. That is real progress as I’ve only managed to make 25 in the last 2 ½ years. But block no. 40 looks exactly like block no. 1, so pictures would be kind of boring. Its time consuming and tedious work, but I’m slogging on in the hope of one, not too far away day be able to finish this quilt. Let’s leave my UFOs here and return one day when I have some real progress to show for all the efforts.

So what else? Well, I went for ten days to Finland in June, visiting friends and relatives. It was a really good holyday and for the first (and last?) time this summer I actually saw some sunshine. 25° -28° C and a clear blue sky every day. Like gypsies Beauty and I went from one place to another, staying three days here and one night there…On our agenda was a visit to Tööts new shop in Helsinki. I met Tööt, in real life Soile, some time ago in Bloglandia as she won one of my giveaways and we started commenting on each others blogs. She mentioned a new shop and of course I had to see it myself, so Beauty, Åsa (my childhood chum) and I went there with great expectations. It’s a small shop and at first we thought it was closed, then Åsa saw some movement inside and knocked on the door. There she was IRL! 
Soile is a really great person, friendly and chatty, easy to be around. She bought a long arm quilting machine and is now starting her own business. Even if it is new business I can tell she’s doing great work. So if you have some unquilted flimsies laying around this is the place to go with them and let Soile take care of the rest.

Actually it was pure chance that we met her that day. She just came back from her summer cottage and was doing some thing or other in the shop before going back again. Sometimes you just get lucky! I’m sure going back again to chat while Soile is doing her magic with her long arm next time I’m in Helsinki.

To tell the truth I’ve had some doubts about the wisdom of meeting persons you only know from the internet, but they are (almost) all gone now. Should I be going some place I know one of you is living, I will try to meet for a cup of coffee, that is, if you want to. Promise!