Sunday, February 8, 2015

Productive Sunday, Sort Of

I shouldn't have but I did, joined this little swap at the Fort Worth Fabric Studio's blog.  I say shouldn't have as I never seem to have much luck in getting a partner who's worth her weight in the sewing room.  But I am the eternal optimist and thought I'd give it another shot.

Here's what I made. My first quilt this small.  Amazing how quickly it all went together.  I think it took me longer to choose the binding fabric than to make the whole mini from start to finish.

The back, and yes, I did add a label later.

Also made a pincushion with some scraps and leftover crushed walnut shells.  Added some other goodies and it's on its way to my partner.

This poor top has been on my living room sofa waiting to be pin-basted since June.  That's embarrassing!  I thought I had some white batting but none the right size so a quick run to Joann's was necessary.  That's all basted and ready to be quilted.

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

A Good Read

You'd think a book titled Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking would be about, well, Soviet food and how to make it but you'd be mistaken.  The title is simply a play on Julia Childs' famous  cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking as the author Anya von Bremzen is an accomplished food writer.  The book is really a memoir of the author's early childhood in the Soviet Union and what it means to be Russian, but it's also a behind the scenes look at daily Soviet life as much of the book relies heavily on Bremzen's Mother's recollections. It's also a decade by decade look at the history of the USSR beginning in the 1910s and culminating in Putin's Russia.   All in all, there's a lot going on here and it intertwines quite seamlessly until the last few chapters when appropriately enough the Soviet Union collapses and the book meanders.  

With tongue-in-cheek humor the author chronicles sparse Soviet life where indeed existence did revolve around the daily quest for food via hours long food lines for a stale loaf of bread all the while being told by the State how perfect Soviet life was.  We learn of the propaganda cookbook, yes propaganda even extended to cookbooks, The Book of Tasty and Heathy Food,  chock full of sumptuous pictures of alleged Russian dinners, dinners that were only available to the nomenklatura, or privileged.  We learn of Bremzen's black marketeer penchant as a child selling her fellow classmates  millimeters of Juicy Fruit gum or a 'touch' of an authentic Coca Cola bottle.  There are myriad episodes, often hilarious, other times tragic where Bremzen blends the "historical, political, and personal"  of the Soviet citizen.  

I found the book a fascinating look inside the USSR.  As a child growing up during the Cold War era and as a young adult the USSR was the epitome of bad, something fearful and to be scorned.  This book shows how much worse things were on the inside.  Ration cards, communal apartments shared with strangers, and stunted childhoods.  Bremzen's Mother anxious to flee a dysfunctional country and marriage, takes advantage of exit visa policy and emigrates with her ten-year old daughter to Philadelphia in the mid 70's.  

Quite an intriguing, darkly comical, and delicious read.  A must read for anyone interested in Russia and the USSR.

 A few of the recipes mentioned are included at the end of the  book.

I received this book from Blogging For Books for this review.  

Talk to you later.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Been Busy

Hello, everyone!
     I had a gift card and decided to buy some backing for my Grand Illusion quilt top.  Needless to say I had a bunch of options in my stash but they'd all have to be pieced so I decided if I was going to piece I might have well have it all match. I was desperate to do anything to calm this quilt down.  So here's what I decided on,

Ordered online as there was zero locally. It's from a collection called The Painted Garden by Dena Fishbein.  I seem to like her designs as I kept choosing her fabric wherever I surfed.  I'm pleased with it, and the price of $5.99/yard was another selling point.  The colors are perfect, at least to me, now to get it sewn together.  I'm still undecided as to whether I want to wrestle with this on my DSM or not.  I washed/dried it even though the top fabrics were not pre-washed.  I like to do that with the backing because of the large size and shrinkage with one piece versus small two-inch pieces.

I joined the Block Lotto site the end of last year and have been having fun participating in that.

I was one of the winners last month for a collection of Double 9-Patch blocks.  More on those when I receive them in the mail.

The maximum number of blocks to make varies each month.  The block for February is an arrow block.  I made them over the weekend.  I'd love a whole quilt  with them!

I was going to stop at two but kept going for a full set,

 Thanks for stopping by, what have you been busy with?

Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Sum of Its Parts

It took awhile.  After much pondering and unease, I finished the GI Mystery Quilt.

  I liked the idea of just sashing the blocks I had with some polka dot fabric cause we all know polka dots improve everything, right?

But I was short a bunch. Drat.

And in a comical attempt to calm things down (as if), I wanted to use this medium blue in all the cornerstones,

Again, short a bunch.

 So I went with the dot idea again being I had enough of this Very Favorite All-Time Most Wonderful Fabric Ever Made Michael Miller polka dot,

I love this fabric!  I only managed to get the end-of-the-bolt at my LQS last year.  I put a bit of it into this quilt before I realized how it would turn out.  Killed me to use up more of it in the cornerstones.  In retrospect, I should have just went with a mix of the blues I used in the quilt per the designer's scheme.

And yes, that is sewn wrong.  I was tempted it to just leave it.  But I didn't.

Here it is,

before the final borders!  Dizzy yet?!  Again, so tempted to leave the borders off, but they were made and not wanting any extra parts to remind me of this fiasco,  on they went. 

All finished, 89 inches square,

A close-up of a corner,

I'm glad I stuck with it and it's now done.  I dislike it for a few reasons.  It violates "the rules" and not in an artistic way that works; the busyness of the sashing and incorrect use of value doesn't allow the spinning block to really show. There's just too much going on!  I haven't decided the backing or binding yet nor if I'm going to quilt it myself,  or send it out.  I do know I won't be doing any more mystery quilts.

Anyone else finished theirs?

Friday, January 9, 2015

A Grand Mess

Not a happy sewist here!  If you are/were doing the Grand Illusion Mystery Quilt sponsored by Bonnie Hunter and you like it, you might want to stop reading right now!

I had to play catch-up after Thanksgiving with the clues as I had about a 10 day late start.  Pushed myself rather hard to finish all the clues, I might add, but finish them I did.  You see I wanted to be all ready prior to the finale that way I'd be off and sewing when the big reveal came.  If you're sewing along, you know it came on New Year's Eve.  And...

OMG! I hate it!  

To me it is a jumbled mess, the fabric choices are all wrong, and the sashing, oy!  And I used the same fabrics that BH did so it's not as if I used a dark rather than a light.  The ironic thing is, I didn't really care for the color choices but figured I couldn't go wrong using what the 'designer' did.  Ha!  Did I mention this is the very first Quiltville MQ I have ever done?  

What to do.  What to do.

I finished sewing the 25 blocks today.  (::sigh:: I even committed to the full version, fool that I am!)   

Here's one of them.

And the rest.  It's not too bad without the intended sashing.  I know many people are leaving that off and doing solid sashing to calm things down a bit.  

Auditioning the busy green sashing. Whew!  I think the blocks just disappear when the sashing is added. And I somehow have missed the name, where's the illusion?  I've tried to like it but it just doesn't work.  And those black squares the way they don't line up with the black HST just keeps annoying me.  But I hate the thought of having these quilt parts leftover if I don't use the sashing. ::sigh:: 

I don't know what to do. Finish it and be done, or come up with another way that I can live with?

Any ideas?   You'll just have to excuse me now while I go have a good cry.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014


I finished, Clue 2 in the Grand Illusion Mystery Quilt is finally done! Yahoo!

All 100, all clues done at this point!  I'll have to wait to see what Friday's clue brings,- I am leaving tomorrow to drive the Daughter back up to Birmingham. I am not looking forward to that, I've gotten rather used to having her here again.

I'd like to wish all my readers a healthy, happy and prosperous New Year, and also an abundance of sewing time!