Monday, March 21, 2011

what I'm working on recently

I've got several projects in progress right now, and two smaller ones that I finished recently, so it's time for a bit of an update. I still can't find the charger cables for EITHER of my cameras, so I don't have all the photos I need to make a post about my awesome new sewing room. We'll be going through the guest room this week to fish out the rest of the RV stuff for the spring flyball season, so hopefully they will turn up when we clean out some of the stuff.

Yesterday I finished the quilt top for my friends' baby, and got it all put together and pinned into a quilt sandwich. The quilt went from a collection of nine sub-units on my design board to the first portion of quilting being complete, which is a whole lot of work to do in one day! I was starting to worry that the design would be a bit busy with all the different prints, but I think that it's come out really nicely and I'm pleased with it. The border fabric (monkeys!) really helps to frame it and make it look a bit more polished, I think. The quilt ended up juuuust a bit out of square, with the finished top dimensions working out to being about 36.75" by 55.5" and 56", so I wound up trimming just a bit off the edges to square it up a bit. Instead of 3" borders at the top and bottom, I used 2.5" finished borders, which looks really nice and not as out of balance as the 3" might have. I fussy-cut just a bit on the monkey border for the sides, to ensure I'd have full monkey chains and not bits of the pattern. The top wound up slightly bowed when I was putting on the border, so I wound up snipping a bit more off - maybe I should've left well enough alone in the first place! The quilt still fit just fine on my backing fabric, so even if it's not perfectly 40" x 60" it's very close. I'm doing diagonal quilting on the rows and outline quilting on the squares, and if I have time and feel confident enough I plan to do little loops inside the squares as well.

Last Friday was the first of two classes that my friend and I are taking at Pacific Fabrics in Bellevue, with the topic being Kaleidoscope Quilts. The trick to doing these is to carefully match your pattern by using lots of pins as you make a stack of 8 pattern repeats, then cutting wedges down your strip of fabric. The pinning is really a giant pain in the butt, and you should use way more pins than I did the first time, but the results are pretty cool. I am having some trouble with the pieces not being *exactly* the same size from the top to the bottom, but I bet a little more experience will fix that. The resulting eight-piece kaleidoscope blocks are just gorgeous and they're a lot of fun to put together. The fabric that both of us are using (mine is a purple colorway, hers is a green colorway) has a lot of action and is turning out some really great blocks so far. Our next class is April 1 and that's when we will learn how to finish off the blocks for quilt assembly. Hopefully I will have time to finish making my kaleidoscope parts before then!

The week before the iPad 2 release, I decided to make a sleeve for my new toy out of some awesome fabric I got at the sewing expo. I paired a bit of the green castles from the Lizzy House line of "Castle Peeps" that I was so happy to find along with some gray fabric with black dragons printed on it. I lined it with a purple and gold floral print that I picked up at QuiltWorks Northwest a few weeks ago, and used some royal purple binding that I already had made up from making the butterfly quilts two years ago. I'm really pleased with how it came out, although the photo doesn't quite do the colors justice, and it's happily protecting my iPad as I carry it with me everywhere.

I used the iPad sleeve tutorial on the Moda Bakeshop site in order to get the dimensions for the sleeve, but I modified it from what was there to use two pieces of batting instead of one. If I make another I'll probably make it a little shorter and maybe a little skinnier to fit slightly more snugly. The sleeve as completed can fit two iPad 2 units, each with a SmartCover, comfortably but isn't too baggy with just one.

Completed sleeve, the back is identical to the front. All that remains to do is to hand-stitch the binding down to the inside of the sleeve. The castles really are bright green...not sickly mustard yellow!

Interior of sleeve after binding was sewn, showing the floral lining and one of my awesome new quilt labels that I ordered from Sweetwater a few weeks ago. I completed all of the hand sewing during one session of D&D the day before the iPad 2 release.

And of course, what would a post that mentions the iPad 2 be without a story of how I got mine? I took off early from work on the release day, a Friday with the release time set to be 5pm, and met with my friends' husband to sit in line. We got to Alderwood at around noon, which made us about 70th in line or so. After taking turns to get a hot lunch from Panera, we settled down for our five-hour wait - I brought chairs, a blanket, and wore extra layers since it was about 45F outside. As in the past, the Apple store employees were awesome and brought around hot coffee, water, and granola bars to those waiting in line. They started handing out tickets for iPads to those in line around 4:30, after the line had "squished up" as those camped out put away their chairs. I think they should've handed out tickets much earlier, as there were a lot more people in front of us at that point than there were when we arrived, but it was a good idea all the same. I wound up with almost what I wanted, by the time they got to me they'd already sold out of 32GB 3G units for AT&T so I upgraded to the 64GB version.

The actual purchase process for the iPad 2 was a lot smoother than that for the iPhone 4 last June, but that's probably to be expected since there are no required data plans or contracts for the iPad. We were in the store by 5:20pm and on our way with our shiny new toys by 5:30pm, much better than last time when the store opened at 7am and we weren't on our way until 11:30am! I got home just after Chris got home from work, and we quickly opened up our new toys and started syncing them to our computers before spending the evening with our friends eating pizza and playing with the iPads. Over the week that we've had them, they've quickly become almost indispensable with both of us using them as around-the-house laptops as well as at work. I've even hooked mine up to our cable TV service to watch HBO when I'm at the gym! Sadly I've already dropped mine once (and onto gravel to boot) so it has a few minor scratches on it, but the durability is pretty good and the smart covers are just awesome. Yay for new technology!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

staples, zipties, and duct tape

That's what is holding half of my motorcycle gear together right now. The zipper pull on my right book broke off over a year ago, and after a few cycles of using bits of leather cording (which only lasted about four months before falling apart) in its place, a friend suggested a ziptie which is holding up beautifully. The four-panel seam in the butt of my riding pants started pulling apart about six months ago, and it's currently held together by duct tape. Finally, the long ankle-to-hip zipper on the left leg of my riding pants broke last week, losing four teeth due to catching in the fabric of the hip pad, and is currently held together with a stop made of heavy-duty staples.

And that's just the repairs that are obvious. My gloves are missing the cover layer on the velcro cuffs, since the glue loosened when they were in the dryer so I just cut that part off. My jacket has failing velcro on the right cuff, a busted mesh panel in the left arm, and moving armor in the right arm. And I recently found that my right boot has a tiny tiny pinhole leak in the toe, which luckily is only active in very heavy rain.

I suppose I should expect this - I've already ridden nearly 2,000 miles this year and it's the beginning of March, and everything I wear is at least two years old with some items over four years old at this point. It's hard to say I haven't gotten my money out of my gear, however, although it is definitely time to replace some of it. I've been looking around intermittently for the past few months, but the need sharpened when the zipper on my riding pants broke last week and I spent time last Saturday at Ride West trying on new gear. I wanted some heavy-duty and high-quality gear this time, as while the Olympia gear I have now has held up admirably, there are some features that I'm less than fond of and I'm ready to invest in even better gear. I looked at BMW and Rev'It gear, and wound up selecting the Rev'It Ventura Ladies gear, with the plan to buy the pants now and get the matching jacket later this year. I'm pretty impressed with the gear, even though it's harder to put on due to lack of a full-leg zipper, but the benefits outweigh that little drawback. Unfortunately the one size that I needed was the one size that was not in the shipment, despite being on the manifest, so I am still wearing my staple-and-duct-tape pants until the new ones arrive later this week.

I hope it's soon. I don't trust the staples for much longer.