Despite the tag line from this blog (I’m not a geek, I just play one in real life) and a previous post to the contrary,  I am actually a geek. Well, in some ways anyway. Apparently even friends from middle and high school know this all too well…

A week before Sewing Summit an old friend contacted me and wanted me to make a Tardis quilt for her to give as a gift. The catch? She wanted it before Halloween (the recipient’s birthday — no it wasn’t me — obviously, hehe.) I knew I was going to be gone for 4 days for Sewing Summit, and that even if I took it with me I wouldn’t get anything done on it in SLC, so I basically had 2 weekends to knock a whole quilt out.


I sketched it up in my notebook pretty quickly and estimated the fabric. Then we started hunting for the perfect background and backing fabrics. (The rest of the quilt is in Kona solids.) The backing was pretty easy, there is this teeny tossed Tardis fabric on Spoonflower. (I’m really starting to think there are an awful lot of closet geek sewers and quilters.) So my friend ordered that and had it sent to me.

Tardis - signage

The background was a different story. We searched and searched for something “starry”. Finally I went into my LQS, and found this print by Robert Kauffman. It’s “Mixmasters Luminescence.” (On a side note, I can’t believe I spelled luminescence right on the first try!) I took a photo with my phone and texted it to her to get her approval. Don’t you just love technology? How in the heck did people survive before they could take pictures of fabric with their phones?!

The signs were my biggest problem. I knew I could print the black on white text on with a printer using the freezer paper method. We actually went and bought a new printer during this process because the inkjet we had only had pigment (which is more permanent than dye-based)  ink for black. The new printer does color with pigment inks, too. I’m excited to try that out soon.

The white text on black had me stumped for far too long. I finally realized I could use silk screen ink with a freezer paper stencil (yeah, I love freezer paper) and print my own sign. I love how it came out.

Tardis - signage

I was also asked to embroider a little message on the back, and this is what I came up with. I actually did the “I” and the “YOU” on my machine, and hand stitched the red hearts.

Tardis - back

You can also see that the spoonflower fabric wasn’t quite wide enough, so I added a strip of the background fabric to finish it out.

I actually ran out of the background fabric in the middle of this project. I bought 2 yards originally and thought that woud be about 1/2 yard too much, but boy was I wrong! And not because I wasted any of it either. I had to send Chris back to the LQS during his lunch one day to get some more. (Yes, he’s definitely a keeper!)

Tardis - back

The quilting doesn’t show up well in these pictures at. all. But I quilted in the ditch around the Tardis, and then in radiating lines from the “light” at the top over the rest of the quilt. It’s not a ton of quilting, so the whole thing is still rather soft and snuggly.

Tardis - close up of quilting

Even though I was worried that I wouldn’t have time to get this quilt done by Halloween, I actually finished and bound it (in a solid Kona blue) a few days early.  It was really quite a simple quilt to put together once I solved the issues with the text fabrics. Of course, I could have had those printed at Spoonflower, but they take FOREVER and if the sign was the wrong size it would be a major disaster.

I’m surprised that I seem to have come to a point where a single quilt doesn’t take me months (or years) to complete! OTOH, I have a few quilts that I’ve been struggling with (or rather, designing on the fly, thus taking more thought than planning the dumb thing out in advance) for quite some time. But I’ll show you those in a future post…

On that note, I started a new geek job, so I’m kind of stretched for time these days. I’ll try to keep the blog updated, but don’t worry, I haven’t disappeared off the face of the Earth… yet.

Warning: Longest post ever is ahead.

Last weekend was the 2nd annual (it is going to be annual, isn’t it?) Sewing Summit. I’ve had the privilege to attend both years now, though, getting in was a lot easier last year before everyone knew about it and the tickets were so coveted. Heh!

As far as I can tell, most everyone had a great time, but everyone returned home flat out exhausted. I know I did. I didn’t sleep well at the hotel for some reason. I woke up over and over again all three nights. I think I should have just stayed in the sewing rooms until late every night rather than toss and turn in a strange bed. But there I go off on a tangent again…

We should start at the very beginning (a very good place to start*). Well, perhaps not the very beginning, that would involve boring you to death with details of registration and agonizing over which of the classes (out of so many awesome offerings) to try to attend. Rather I will start with the flight out. It was rather an uneventful flight (which is definitely a good thing!), until we were somewhere over Utah (I think). The clouds had finally cleared from below the aircraft, and the amazing landscape below was revealed. I’m sure I looked insane taking photos out the window of the plane with my iPad, but the views were just breathtaking.

Over Utah

One thing that I didn’t get a photo of because the “turn off all portable electronics” sign (have you noticed these replacing the no smoking signs in planes lately?) had lit up, was this giant hole in the earth. It was I’ve since figured out that it is the Bingham Canyon Mine and is one of the largest man made holes in the Earth.  I also spotted a big spire on the banks of the great salt lake (I think) but I don’t know what it was, so if anyone could tell me… And lastly, just before we were to land the lake itself came into view. I have to say, I don’t think I realized it was quite that big. Views like these make me realize just how tiny we are. It’s mind boggling.

Little America

After meeting Veronica to share a ride over to the Little America hotel, and an uneventful check in, I headed up to my room to drop my stuff off and went down to the hotel’s coffee shop for a sandwich I’d been waiting for since the last Sewing Summit. Alas, it wasn’t quite as good as I remembered it. Isn’t that how it always works out?

Long awaited sandwich

Then I met up with a friend from Austin and her mom for some shopping. She and I live in the same city, used to work together about 9 years ago, and haven’t seen each other in almost that long. It’s ridiculous that we had to fly to another state just to get together. But we had a great time hitting a yarn store with a cute Yorkie puppy, and two awesome quilt shops. I picked up some of the Sarah Jane Children at Play On Parade yardage. On sale. Score! And we saw this adorable monster quilt at Quilt, etc. The prairie points for teeth is just killing me!

Quilts, etc

Once I returned to the hotel it was time to get ready for the opening reception. And here’s where I have a confession… I’m an introvert. Really. I hate crowds. I hate mingling. I hate approaching people I don’t know. I am awful with names. And I hate making small talk.  But I went, and I got my glass of red wine and I sat in a corner and talked to random people that came and sat at my table. It was quite pleasant actually. Until it wasn’t anymore, and the noise got to me. Then I left to go back to my room to get ready for dinner.

Back in my room I was clearing my pockets to repack my bag and discovered that my driver’s licence was not in my pocket. Oh. Shit. I hightailed it back down to the reception and started looking for it. I was practically crawling on the floor underneath tables trying to find it. I finally found Erin (oh wonderful Erin who busted her butt the whole weekend making everything go so smoothly!) and was going to have her make an announcement, but guess what? Awesome as she is, she already had it on her! Phew. I thought I was going to have to have Chris FedEx my passport to me so I could get home!

I had organized (ha! it was rather more chaotic) a group of ladies to go to Red Rock Brewery for dinner. It was within walking distance from the hotel and was a great time to chat with some new friends (in small groups — yay!). When the ten of us arrived we asked for a table, but then were informed of another large group. Were we part of that group? We asked if they identified themselves… The hostess says “Well, they have hand sewn name badges… ” Um, yeah, that’s our group!

So we sat, had way too much food and giant beers and all exchanged Moo and business cards. Then we walked back to the hotel for various swaps and open sewing. I didn’t last long since I’d been up since 4 am Utah time. By 10 I was done and headed to bed.

Sewing Room

I think I’ve discovered that mornings are among my favorite times at Sewing Summit. Heading down to the lobby early to grab a giant cup of (actually better than decent) coffee and just hanging out with all the other sleep deprived sewists is just so pleasant. Last year I spent a lot of morning time with Faith and her sister, but this year when I headed down I didn’t immediately see anyone with a handmade bag or stitching or blogging or whatever it is that makes a sewing summit attendee so obviously part of the group. So I grabbed my coffee, had a seat and started checking instagram. And there, posted 15 seconds earlier was a picture of Jessica’s feet. So against my very nature I went over to say hi. And I’m so glad I did. We had some great chats, and also some great “just sitting there in silence” moments, too. After that, other people found us quite quickly and before I knew it a whole group of people had come to sit and have a light breakfast.

When 9 am rolled around, it was time for classes. I have to admit I was pretty excited about most of my classes, and most did not disappoint! There were a couple where I felt guilty for taking a spot since the material covered was really things I already have plenty of experience with. Interestingly, this year my selections had a lot more to do with sewing clothing than quilts.

Mena’s Handmade Wardrobe class was a riot! She told some great stories of fabric acquisition and kept us generally entertained with her quips and anecdotes all while inspiring us to make our own clothing. Her blog stats slide was pretty funny as well.

Mena's Stats

The rest of the day was filled with more classes. Zippers with Sara (who had the most awesome dress!), English Paper Piecing (which was funny because I insisted on doing everything the exact opposite from the way the instructor, Katy, was telling us — yeah I’m such a rebel), and Children’s Pattern Making with Carrie. That last class was one of my favorites! I had such an ah ha! in the middle of it. I’ve tried my hand a few times at making clothing patterns, and I’ve been pretty successful so far, but now I have a real understanding of how and why pieces are shaped the way they are. I can’t wait to get drafting again.

After classes, I participated in the zippered pouch swap, picked up my i-spy charms from that swap and received my swapped fat quarters. A nice haul for about 30 minutes of time. Then I went shopping down at Pine Needles Quilt Shop in Gardner Village with my Austin friends. What a great time! There was a bit of a festival going on. Lots of people were dressed up as witches, and kids were running around having a great time despite the fact that it was 47 degrees and raining. There were also sales going on in every store. Seriously, I left Pine needles with 4 fat quarters and 2 yards of other fabric for less than 19 bucks! After all that commotion the three of us had dinner at a quiet local Italian place that I forget the name of. It was a perfect end to a long day.

Saturday morning I was up early again and found my friends in the lobby rather quickly. After lots of chatting and even more coffee it was time for another day of classes. This year we had two full days of classes and I think that was a great decision.

First up for the day was a class I’d been looking forward to since I heard it would be offered. Shapes and Angles with Kati and Faith was all about some more “advanced” quilt piecing techniques. I say “advanced” because after the instruction and during the practice time it was like “Duh! why didn’t I think of that!”. Their class was one of the most organized classes as well. It was one of the few where we made it through all of the material during the (way too) short time limit. (Sorry for the goofy expression, Faith, but trust me, this was the best one!)

Faith Jones

Partial Seams

The rest of the day was consumed learning about Finishing Details with Anna, Blogging tips with Tauni (also completely hilarious), and finally Make and Take Knit Top with Sunni. Sunni’s class was great because it was very individualized. It was basically a start sewing and ask questions as you go class. And I finally got someone who knows what they’re doing to measure me, since I can’t seem to measure myself accurately. I was also sitting next to the amazing Katie (yeah, there were lots of Kat[y-i-ie]s!) who just was all around very nice and very knowledgeable about sewing and altering clothing. I finished up the knit shirt in open sew later that evening, but that’s for another post.

The closing dinner was up next, and the air was starting to have a bit of a sad-its-over-but-I’m-tired-and-want-to-get-home-to-my-kids/husband/cat air to it. After dinner I actually went to the sewing room (apparently the wrong one as the fun stuff was going on next door! Yeah, you guys know what you were up to!) and worked on a few things.  But all too soon it was time to go upstairs and pack for my way too early flight the next day.

Back in the room I crammed all my clothes and this:


into this:

Packed up

And the next morning, I was on my way home, but not without one last amazing sight. The sun coming up over the mountains:

Sunrise over SLX

I’m already looking forward to next year.

* a very good place to start according to Julie Andrews in the Sound of Music (yes, I am a nerd)

Have you seen the tutorial for these great open wide pouches on Anna’s blog, Noodlehead?

Open wide pouches

Last year for Sewing Summit I had cut the fabric I used here for the grey pouch, for another zippered pouch to match my improve tote. But I never made the pouch. So when I came across it in my sewing cabinet recently, I decided to give the open wide pouch tutorial a try. It’s such a quick project, but I will admit I did get hung up a little trying to keep the end of the zipper out of the way while sewing. It’s not quite as easy as it looks, but with a little seam ripping and trying again it is definitely achievable.

Open wide inside

I’m not sure what has gotten into me, but I’ve been taking some of my smaller scraps and just sewing them up into big old patchwork pieces, which I then decided would be great as a pouch for the pouch swap at this year’s Sewing Summit (next week! ahhh!). I love how it came out. So much so that I almost made a different pouch for the swap. Instead, I sewed up more scraps into patchwork for an iPad case. Yeah, we’ll see if I ever get there.

Open wide scrappy

I gave the grey bag to Alexis, and she is using it for her grip bag for gymnastics. It’s the perfect size for that and so easy for her to grab fast. (And trust me, she really needs the help being speedy… hehe.)

Open wide with Grips

So tell me, are you going to Sewing Summit? Did you make a pouch for the swap? And even if you aren’t or you didn’t, will you try out the open wide pouch tutorial? Or what is your favorite pouch? (And on that note, I’ll quit blabbering…)

Open wide zips

do. Good Stitches - August 2012

August was my month to be the quilter for our do. Good Stitches circle, Dream. I chose to have everyone make this (what I thought would be) simple starburst block by Ashley at Film in the Fridge. Looks easy right?

As it turns out, it’s really a lot more of a pain to get those points to line up than I ever imagined. I ended up making two of these blocks. Our group is in a bit of flux right now due to new babies and moving members and other exciting stuff, so we were a little short. I was going to make another 3 to make the whole quilt 3×4 blocks, but just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Those blocks are a pain! I apologize to all the lovely ladies of the dream circle for picking it.

do. Good Stitches -- August 2012

As it turns out though, the 3×3 layout inspired the quilting. After I’d quilted along the block seams I realized I had the perfect tic tac toe board, and so I quickly cut out an X and an O template and laid them out for quilting.

do. Good Stitches -- August 2012

The binding I chose was a plain teal blue. Originally, I’d asked everyone to include a bit of gray in each brightly colored starburst as a way to tie them all together, but as it luck would have it, the aquas and teals really stand out more.

do. Good Stitches -- September 2012

And here’s my block for September. I’m afraid it doesn’t look as bright and cheery as it did when I first pulled the fabrics. Really, quite muted.

Now, I just need to find the time to package these two goodies up and send them off.

I’ve been teasing instagram viewers with shots of this quilt in progress for weeks — maybe months — but it’s finally done. A quilt for my favorite little guy.

I am a Ro-bot.

I’m not sure what inspired the robot theme. It was so long ago that I dreamt this pattern up. I thought about it for weeks before I got up the nerve to draw it out in Illustrator, then I waited even more weeks before I actually started piecing it. The whole top is paper pieced. I was worried about that at first. I was thinking there would be too many seams, too many tiny pieces, but it seems to have worked out just fine.

Robot close-up

I started with quite the collection of reds, blues and grays. Then threw in that Remix zig zag print and another stripe at the last second. Originally I’d considered doing the whole quilt in solids. I sort of wish I’d gone with that. The whole top is very very busy… Just like it’s new owner (“I buzzy momma!”).

The back and binding were a bit of a challenge. After I’d put the border on the top, I was about 2 inches short on the backing. And the amount of fabric I had left from the top was seriously about 6 2 inch strips in various fabrics and lengths and that big piece of Remix. Finally I scrounged up enough of the remix to squeak out the needed length. Poor Chris and Alex offered about a million suggestions, none of which I took. I also solicited help in choosing the binding on instagram, twitter, and facebook. But guess what? I didn’t take any of those suggestions either and ordered this red polka dot and another multicolor dot from the Remix collection. Obviously I picked the red, but I’m not sure I really like it. I think it’s really very Christmassy. On the other hand, the other dot was just a bit too much for the eye.

Robot Back

I’m really loving doing these quilt labels with the embroidery. It’s such a change of pace after piecing a quilt to sit on the couch with some trash tv show on (ahem anything on HGTV), and stitch away. I wonder if Sean will sleep with the label by his face the way Alex does with her quilt.

Robot Label

PS — wow, my quilting stitches look awful in that picture! I swear they are way straighter and more even than that in person… Really. wink wink.

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