sexta-feira, 31 de dezembro de 2010

Happy New Year!!


The year that ends today was a very important year for me. There were some rough patches, but in life, that's how you learn.
I am a true believer that all things happen for your benefit, regardless of how much it hurts or that we are unable to understand that at the moment. My life has proven me right.

This year I learned to enjoy every second, to enjoy the simple yet most beautiful things in life like the way my cat wakes me up during the night just to lick my nose and snuggle. Or the way the sky looks when it's bright blue with really white perfect clouds. We truly don't need that much in life to be happy and happiness most certainly doesn't come from material goods.
Also I've started sewing this year. And doing patchwork, and quilting. And goten addicted to fabric and thread and all things related. It's beena while since I have been this hooked on something!

I am on the verge of a bridge, career-wise. I cannot see what lies ahead, I do know I am about to end a very important and meaningful stage of my life, and I have no choice but to move on. I am trying my best to be positive and determined to take this as an opportunity to find out what would truly make me happy, not just content or secure, but happy, fulfilled, glad to wake up every morning kind of satisfaction. But it is also very frightening, I don't like change and I don't like the unknown. But also exciting to have the freedom to make that choice, to take that step, to just do it and don't give up until I've found it. These are not easy times, but I am sure they will be crucial to my journey.

2011 will be a very important year and I'm hoping once again that my life will show me the right path. I also hope to be healthy and in peace with myself. I wish to be surrounded by loved ones and people who bring out the best in me.
I wish this to everybody in my life who I love and cherish. I wish this to you as well as your families and all your loved ones.

I wish all animals are safe, loved and protected, as all life should, as their little inocent loving loyal souls deserve. Enough with taking advantage of the weakest, they are weakest because they trust, love and dedicate their lives to us. Our kind had not been deserving of their faith in us.

The World needs a bit of peace, happiness and respect. Hopefully 2011 will be the year.

quarta-feira, 29 de dezembro de 2010

The takeover has begun!

Remember a while back when I showed you my fabric box? Well, I upgraded. I now have a lovely Ikea cabinet. Well, they call it a bookcase... Mr. Ikea always comes through for me!

Please excuse the mess, I haven't quite found the place for everything yet.
After it was finished I looked at it and it felt just right. And then it clicked. One of my favorite gifts this Christmas was a vinyl my best friend made for me (yes, besides all the amazing other gifts she made for me) and I have been trying to find the perfect place for it in my bedroom and haven't been able to. I have some busy walls, let me tell you. And the free ones are too far from my bed and I can hardly see it. But then, looking at this new corner, it made perfect sense. And so, the lovely vinyl finally got a place of its own.

I know it's just a corner (so far), but it's got so many things I love all bundled up. It's got fabric, of course, Ikea, cats, handmade goodies, candles, inspiration and the little wooden case has my painting supplies. Everything a girl could wish for ;)

Any bets for how long will it take me to need another upgrade? :)

terça-feira, 28 de dezembro de 2010

A Proper Portuguese Christmas Eve

Hello Everybody! (Edit: Ok, everytime I read this sentence, I just keep hearing a reply in the back of my mind saying "Hi Dr. Nick!" Too much Simpson exposure I think...)

I hope your Christmas was amazing with family, fun and a lot of great food in the mix.
Ours was very good, actually I felt it went a bit too smoothly, no delays, no running back and forth. Well, actually I ran, but it was before people started to arrive. I closed the shop at 6p.m., ran home to make and almond pie and changed my clothes after the first guests had arrived. But they are not really guests, they are family, so I guess that's ok...

After that it was great, I'm just really sorry it goes by so fast. I think I start getting kind of sad at about noon on the 24th, because it's already close to being over. How crazy is that?
 Now you know what the cube is for.  There used to be about 18 of us, so the presents would cover the tree bottom. At some point I gave up on straightening the tree as my kittens just kept climbing. But they were so stressed with having so many people in their space, poor babies...


The 25th is usually spent eating basically as there is always so much left! It's a completely different vibe, very quiet, nothing much to do. Perfect.

As for presents, the quilts were a big hit, so was the pillow.  And I even got a few handmade presents myself, how lucky am I?? AND SOME FABRIC!  :)

It was so funny to notice that basically we all love the same fabrics. My best friend who lives in the UK made me all those lovely items in the first picture using the fabric I used as the backing for her quilt. AND she made a cathedral window pin cushion! I haven't even tried that, it's so great!
Then my cousin made a tree using the same 12 Days of Christmas fabric I've been using throughoutg the whole collection, which, of course, includes her quilt and her daughter's pillow! And she made me this lovely planner with kitty fabric, which reminded me there's one pattern missing in my stash, kittens!! :)

And now, the New Years Eve. I must say it's kind of a non-event for me, usually just a good excuse to travel. But since I wont be traveling this year, I think I'll have one of those stay at home, watching TV and relaxing kind of nights. People say the way you finish the year sets the tone for how the new year will go, so I'm hoping it will be a pretty chilled out year. I sure need it!

segunda-feira, 20 de dezembro de 2010

The Complete Christmas Twinkle Collection

Here it is, the Complete Collection.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. hehehe. It saw me free motion quilting for the first time, and it saw me outgrow my first ever sewing machine and learning how to work with the intimidating new one. It saw a whole lot of fabric and batting purchases. It saw a lot of stress and a lot of hapiness, a lot of frustration and breakthroughs. It saw Autumn and Winter. Four of them are already delivered, four of them to go till Christmas.
Neither of them are perfect by any means, neither of them is as I wished it was. But I know that I'll love them even more when I get there.

Next one will be even better.
Now, if I could only learn to quilt to mke the back look as good as the front... My newest New Year's Eve resolution I guess!

Finished Quilt: Christmas Twinkle number 8! The end!!

I must admit I'm feeling a bit nostalgic.
Also, I'm not really sure what I'm suposed to do with my time now that my goal has been reached.
Finally, had I known I would have some time left, I might have done things a bit diferently, a bit more perfect. There was a point in the process where I had to decide wheter I'd rather have some perfect quilts ready by Christmas, or have them all ready, though not as perfect or at least as detailed as I'd wanted. I chose the second choice.

First of all because the people I made them for are all just to darn important for me to pick and chose from the group which would get one and which wouldn't.
Secondly, I know they know I'm just starting. I bought my first sewing machine in July, I finished my first quilt in August, I started the Christmas Twinkle Collection in October and have since made 8 lap quilts among other projects.
Also, I know some of the faults I see won't be noticed by someone who doesn't look at them as closely as I have been looking. I also know, some will probably be noticed. But I've improved greatly from the first ones, and I intend to keep on improving, This project has taught me a lot.

And hopefully these quilts will show these people just how special and truly important they are to me.

Regarding this last quilt, it wasn't really meant to exist, it was a last minute adition to the list that brought this on. I had very few 12 Days of Christmas fabric left. On the other hand I had just bought new fabric, so it is completely diferent from the others. But I absolutely love it! Bear in mind the next couple of photos were taken at very late hours and no pressing occured prior to them. So no, it's not that crooked, it's just poorly photographed!

The fabrics were Ikea's, 12 Days of Christmas and some recently purchased Freespirit. I quilted it with some straight lines on both sides of the strips, except for the really small strips, which were quilted in the middle. It gives it a cushy look I just love.

Another feature I just love is THIS fabric. I love it so much I've ran out of it. I have to go to Ikea and buy some more. It's a really cute fabric and works very well with a lot of different options.

So that's that, Christmas Twinkle Collection is ready for offering. On to the next!

Finished quilt: Christmas Twinkle number 6!

This is the last squared quilt from the collection. It was one of the first ones to have a finished top, but it ended being one if the last to finish. I think it was due to having all these new ideas I wanted to try, so this one kept getting pushed back. Sad but true.
But here it is, ready to be pressed, folded and gift wrapped.

The fabrics are very varied, we have some Amy Butler, some 12 Days of Christmas, some Ikea. The binding and backing are Ikea and I quilted it in diagonal straight lines. There were three squared quilts, one was in reds, the second was in greens and this one is in light blues. Some people have trouble seeing this color trend, but I'm officially letting you know that is the concept.

Finished Quilt: Christmas Twinkle number 7! Do you Remember...

This quilt?

I was never really sure of how it turned out, it is very different from what I've been doing and I liked the colors, I just didn't think it was me.

Well, since I got a little extra time this weekend, and I couldn't get it out of my head, I just had to do something about it...
So I took a little bit of this:

And this is the final result. It just needs some pressing, which I couldn't bring myself to do as it wasl really late and I was ready for bed. It makes much more of a difference face to face, I assure you. It makes this quilt more youthfull and cheerfull, perfect for a Christmas present!
The fabrics were Ikea and Kate Spain 12 Days of Christmas. I quilted it with simple lines on the white fabric. It's one of the larger lap quilts, but it is intended for a family, so hopefully they will all fit! :)

Christmas is THIS WEEK!!


I am sorry I've been absent, but it turns out I'm not very good at sew and tell, I'll either sew or tell. So these last few days I've been sewing (and cooking) and now I'm telling!

Dont' really know where to start, except to say this is the outcome:
All they need now is the final touch and gifr wraping and they are ready for Christmas!

Now, for a side note on the quality of my pictures. I know most of them make you wonder if I live in a dark cave. The thing is, usually I finish the projects at night. And on the next day, I don't return home until the sun is gone. Also, the living room, where I sew, has a closed balcony with double glass tinted windows, because of the heat in the summer, which makes it really dark in the winter, so there's not much I can do about it. I could, of course, photograph it in other parts of the house, but again, it's usually night so it won't improve that much. Plus on the other rooms there is no wall paper, so it's not as nice.

As for photographing outside, well, I live in an apartment, in a very urban setting. I do have a smallish garden, well, more of a children's playground close, but I figure it would just look plain weird to take my quilts out there and start shooting away... I'll have to think of a way to solve this problem.

And now, to talk specifics.

quarta-feira, 15 de dezembro de 2010

Just because...

Mushi and Nico wanted to come here and wish you a very Merry Christmas, so I said sure!

May you, your families and all of your furry babies have a very Merry Christmas.

Nico promises to keep working hard on those Christmas presents and share them with all of you as soon as possible!

There aren't enough hours in the day...

Which is a shame, because I could really use them!
Progress has been too slow on my current projects, I feel like I'm taking baby steps when I needed to take giant ones...
Yesterday the binding continued, and Nico managed to sandwich the last quilt.
Sandy's little helper

Also yesterday I got an early Christmas present! Fabric! Yay! :) Also a couple more items, because fabric can sometimes feel very lonely...
I've been meaning to get these purse straps for a while now, so now I have them, just don't really know what I'll do with them, but I'm not worried! I got a couple of cottons and an Amy Butler flannel that winked at me the last time I was there.

Also, the store decided to give me Christmas gifts of their own. Thank you Dot Quilts!

So for today, some quilting and binding are in order. This will be the binding...I think... I'm still not sure, but it will give it character... I'll let you know how it goes!

terça-feira, 14 de dezembro de 2010

Exciting Day Ahead!


So yesterday I managed to quilt one of the two lap quilts I have to finish for Christmas. I also managed to add the binding to it, though I wasn't able to finish the hand sewn back. I thought of machine sewing it, but frankly it was just too late to be sewing, also I love the look of a hand sewn binding, well not all of it is hand sewn, just one side, you know what I mean! I love the finished look, the fact that there is not a stich in sight, just love it!

I took pictures but now I lost the cable so I hope to find it today. Again, very late in the evening for me.
Today I hope to spend a lovely afternoon with my mom and my sister and do a bit of shopping. One of the items of the shopping list is my Christmas Gift, which this year will be... FABRIC!! I'm giddy with excitment, can't think of a better way to spend shopping time than looking at fabric. Except of course if they dislike fabric I love or vice-versa. That would be very depressing, as I sometimes feel like an alien already due to my extreme love (ok obsession would describe it also) of fabric...

I'm sure it will be a GREAT day. Hope yours is too!

segunda-feira, 13 de dezembro de 2010

WIP: The Last of the Christmas Twinlke Collection (And this time I mean it!)


Hope you had a great weekend! Mine was busy as usual, but I managed some sewing at some very late hours.
This quilt was a very last minute addition to my plans. I had practically no Christmas fabric left, thank goodness for scraps, but the size of them I quickly understood it would look completely different from the others. This is what I came up with:
I felt too tired to press it yesterday, so I'll be doing that today, I've never repeated the same fabric like this before, but I do think it looks good, I must admit I was afraid it would look boring. I guess from what I've been doing lately, you can say I'm in a blue/red phase :) I just love the combination.

I getting these wild ideas for the binding, to just zap some color into it, I'll be trying that today.

Here you can see the detail of the 12 Days of Christmas fabric. I just cut it into strips, with no particular length in mind, and then just sew it back together. The solids are Ikea. The blue fabric is Freespirit and the red one with the polka dots I'm not sure.

Next stop, Quilt sandwich. Yammi! :)

sábado, 11 de dezembro de 2010

A few new purchases and bit of cleaning up

Yesterday I finally managed to go to the quilting shop I've been meaning to go for weeks now. The people there were amazing! I'm so happy I now have my rotary cutter back, I've been missing it like crazy. Also, they told me that the reason I have such a huge problem with cutting fabric properly might have something to do with me being left handed and so I should have the blade from the rotary on the other side of the handle. It might also be that I'm just really clumsy, but I've noticed I have to ´put a lot more effoirt into cut than what I see other people doing.
Still have no clue how the blade just stopped cutting. Maybe I need to put up huge posters around my table saying KEEP CLEAR FROM MY SCISSORS AND CUTTERS PLEASE, since it seems people think I'm joking when I say you can't cut anything other than fabric with them and they keep turning up ruined... It's also the problem of having a workstation that's basically a desk on the living room, in plain sight and reachable to just about anyone that need to borrow a scissor for whatever...

But anyway, it was great to get to know a new store, we have so few! I think most of you would be shocked with how behind Portugal is on this subject. I count about three shops somewhat close and we're talking about Lisbon!
From what I've seen so far, Moda fabrics are the easiest to come by, although from what I understand you won't find the same collections in different shops. Each shop buys a collection they know the other won't have. Amy Butler is very difficult to come by. You'll find a couple of fabrics from the latest collection and that's about it. Don't even get me started on Anna Maria Horner, I've never seen it on sale in any of the shops I visited, they don't even know what I'm talking about.
I don't mean to sound disrespectful,  it's just really frustrating to try and do something different without having to resort to online shops and, of course, huge delivery charges. And even when you do find designer fabrics, they'll cost above 12 euros per meter, it's so expensive!! Everything quilting related is expensive or nonexistent. I had to order freezer paper online, it's impossible to find, and if you do find it it will be in a quilting shop and it's, of course, expensive...

Thanks for letting me rant for a bit, really needed it! :)
I bought a couple of fabrics, from Free Spirit I think, and I bought flannel for the first time. I bought a really conservative kind, but I have a project in mind that I think will be perfect! Mostly, I just feel like holding it and never letting it go, but it would look weird to come to work holding a piece of flannel, I think...
I also bought my first piece of interfacing. I can't wait to finally get the time to try these new materials, I'm very excited!

They're not really meant to go together, I just buy as I like and then I get home and start mixing fabrics and seeing what I like.
I also decided to do a bit of cleaning up of my workspace and my fabric box (Yes it still fits in a box). I am becoming increasingly worried I've managed to pass on my fabric obsession to my younger cat Nico, as he seems to love sitting on the fabric and as soon as he sees an inch he jumps on top of it. I bet he'll be a great designer when he grows up.
 It's beginning to look like a proper stash. A smalish stash anyway...
My scraps have outgrown the small scraps recipient and are now in a bag. Yesterday was also the first time I actually put some scraps to good use. I have one last minute quilt to make and am almost out of the 12 Days of Christmas fabrics I've been using,. But then, all of a sudden, as I rummaged through my scraps I managed to find like 5 great pieces I had no idea I had! So yay for scraps! :)
And this is THE BOX. It contains all the fabric bigger than a scrap. The batting is in a huge bag, but with the projects I have until Christmas it should rapidly decrease...

quinta-feira, 9 de dezembro de 2010

For those of you who've been reading what I have to say for some time, the first thing I have to say is THANK YOU! You motivate me daily to move forward and improve so I can show you better things.
You may also remember this little predicament I've been having.

Well, it's been a month now, so I decided to contact the company that sold me the sewing machine (which I'm absolutely in love with btw) and find out what solutions they have for me.
I got a reply today and for starters, turns out my sewing machine truly is one of a kind. They can't explain why the hole is on the wrong side, nor have they seen this before, nor can they find a matching table.
So the proposed solution would be to take my machine back and carve a hole on the proper side. My thoughts reading this were unmentionable in a decent blog. There is no way they are opening holes on my machine! And I most certainly will not part from it for such a long time, seeing as I bought the machine from a British site and I live in Lisbon, so imagine how long it would take to send it back, have it fixed and get it back. No way!!

So I think I'll just forget about the whole thing, the table was an offer and If they can open holes on my machine, I can break the pin on the table so it will fit the machine properly...

quarta-feira, 8 de dezembro de 2010

Christmas Twinkle Collection: The Brick Quilt


Yesterday I managed to finish the quilt I was working on. It was a bit tricky and I'm still not entirely convinced, so I'll just show you and see what you think :)

I kept the quilting really simple, just some straight lines (well, not so straight in the back but that's another story). It was made with Ikea fabrics, Ikea backing and some Kate Spain 12 Days of Christmas.
It's also the biggest one I've ever done. It's about 60"x45". It's meant for an aunt with two sons, so I kept away from the pinks, just a bit of pink in the back. 

Of course now that it's finished, I've managed to add a new project to the mix. And then there were EIGHT!

terça-feira, 7 de dezembro de 2010

WIP: The Brick Christmas Quilt

Yesterday I continued with the Brick Quilt I previously showed you. The last of seven I've been making since September as a part of what I fancily called the Christmas Twinkle Collection.

I must say the first time I ever sat in front of a sewing machine was in June. The first time I sat in front of a proper sewing machine, that was actually capable of doing what I asked, was in November. So I'm very pleased with the results of this collection. It's far from perfect, but I'm still very proud. Yes I wish I could match the top straight lines with the back's wonky lines, but I love them all. And I love all the people who'll get one or who already have one, so they are perfectly matched! And I know they love me enough not to mind a couple of flaws. I have learned something new with each and every one of these quilts and I'm hoping I'll keep on learning for years to come!

So back to the quilt in question, I decided to make a small frame for the back fabric, because frankly it just didn't blend in as well as the previous fabric I've been using. Actually I doubt that fabric would blend as well, seeing as this quilt has a very different color palette than the previous ones, it's all about the blues and the reds, so a pinkish backing wouldn't work. Neither would an orange-yellow-pink-beige one. So I framed it with the blue from the top and I think it worked out great. The only photo I can show you are these, because Nico just wouldn't move. Even if I picked him up, he would just return. Faster than me of course, who would have thought cute chubby cats could be this fast?? His colors actually work well with the fabric ;)

So I'm hoping I'll get to show you more of this once it's finished. I am now at the binding stage. I decided to use the blue from the back frame and just sew it on top. I hope it will work, I'm still not convinced...

segunda-feira, 6 de dezembro de 2010

Last of the Christmas Twinkle Collection

Hello everybody.

Hope you had a great weekend! By Friday I decided to look at the calendar and got a bit scared... Right then and there I decided that the first thing to be done was to start making the top of the last quilt for the Christmas Twinkle Collection a.k.a. the last top for the last quilt I'm making as a Christmas gift. This one is for an aunt. I was considering using the stripe pattern for the quilt, but frankly I've done so many of those already, and so many squared ones as well, I decided to do a completely new pattern. Granted, it defies the whole "Collection" concept, but it's still a quilt, it's still a Christmas quilt, so I figured it was ok...

I decided to make a Brick Quilt (tutorial here, if you wish to make one). Very simple but visually impressive I think. So Saturday night it was all about cutting the fabric, which was quite the challenge, as my rotary cutter is broken, and I only have one, so I had to cut it with a scissor and boy, what a difference!!

It was all about the reds and the blues with a splash of green. I used 12 Days of Christmas by Kate Spain (Once again, I know, what can I say? I'm in love!!) and Ikea fabrics.

By yesterday evening, it looked like this:

It's such an easy pattern to make. It took me about two hours to piece, if you take out all the distractions and interruptions. And although this is the most discrete quilt I've done, colorwise, the white really makes the colors pop and overall I think it worked out great! I randomly placed my bricks, just paid particular attention to the borders, making sure I didn't place the same bricks on top of one another, and of course, I made sure there weren't next to each other in the rows...

I probably wont get to baste it until tomorrow, but I fell I've made real progress this weekend.

All I have to do until Christmas, besides working 7 hours a day, 7 days a week, is to sandwich and quilt and bind two quilts, do the same to a huge bed spread my mom asked me to make for her bed (about 79"x118"!!), and that's about it! Oh, and breathe, I must remember to breathe!!

quinta-feira, 2 de dezembro de 2010

Finished Quilt: Christmas Twinkle number 5!

Here it is, the fifth completed quilt from the Christmas Twinkle Colection. It was the first one that I machined quilted with my amazing new sewing machine. Using my 1/4 foot meant the squares were a bit bigger than usual, which meant this is one of the larger quilts from the series.
Some hexie action in the back was necessary, as you know. This is the first quilt I've bound with a pattern fabric and I love it!
This is also the last quilt from the series with this fabric as the backing. Can't wait to try the new one.

So 5 down, 2 to go with less than a month until Christmas and a really hectic working schedule. I'll either make it or break it and I'll most probably be sleeping before midnight on the 24th once everything is done. Wish me luck and speed! ;)

WIP: The Christmas Pillow

When I first thought of doing a pillow as a gift, I figured it was an easy enough project that wouldn't take too much of my time to make with great results. Perfect combination, right?
Except I've never tried it before and had no idea how some of the steps were done. So, step by step photographic coverage:

This is the so far result. I haven't decided on the best way to close it in the back, so I hope some of the sagging is related to that. But I'm also pretty sure it's too big for the pillow and some of the lines are less than straight. And don't even get me started on the corners! Also, I haven't decided on doing a tree trunk.

So it's safe to say this is a work in progress...

Christmas is here!!


Yesterday was the day for bringing Christmas into my home. I, Miss Mushi and Mr. Nico decided it was time!
Since these two cuties arrived at our house, Christmas trees started having an expiration date. Usually two years before the twigs get so bent out of shape that we have to get a new one. Well, our former Christmas tree served us well, it was all white and very different from what we used to do, perfect to go with the new living room. But this year we returned to green and it was so lovely! Maybe less fashionable or modern than the previous years, but definitely more Christmassy and cozy!

It's a bit smaller than usual, but it was also much more easy to light. Also it fits better in the living room, the others we felt were too imposing.

Every year we buy new decorations which means that the amount of decorations keeps growing and the tree remains the same size or, in this case, gets shorter. Some decorations though are all time favorites and keep coming back until they are too old or the kittens decide to reform it, of course...
I strongly advise doing the tree with your pets around, they are such a great help!

They always let you know if a branch isn't looking good or if it's not attached correctly and, of course, they will always test its resistance and balance by examining every single level of the tree, all the way to the top! It's really a precious help...

Here are some of my favorite decorations. The first two are from a trip to Bruge, I'm so pleased to visit places with all year Christmas shops.

 My cooking fairies. Who would cook our Christmas dinner if I didn't have them?? They used to be a couple more, but they were to tired so now they just eat!

This lady got a bit of a flash in the face, sorry about that!

As for the getting the rest of the room in the Christmas spirit, I must say I haven't done much. I have however decided that the couch should keep up and bought this amazing Ikea cover for my lovely Erktop. It is usually white during the year, but on Christmas, it looks like this:

Well, it looked better before Mushi inspected it, but I was in a hurry to leave and wanted to bring the photo so I could do this post ;).

And of course, the lovely faux poinsettia. Since I discovered poinsettias were poisonous for cats, I decided plastic ones would do fine. And these actually look cute and real-like.

Now, it's always a guess how we'll find the Christmas tree and the decorations when we get home. Usually they are fine, because for some reason cats only misbehave when you're there to witness it, but you never know. Exciting, hum? :)

It's still a work in progress, but it's official, Christmas is here!!