Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Thoughts on Sewing Out Loud Podcast

First, a disclaimer.  I may never have any readers of this blog here at all, and while that makes a lot of this less fun it will also permit me to feel less torn and worried about sharing my opinions here when they are not entirely positive.  I feel that most bloggers in the quilting and sewing communities present extremely positive views on all the many and varied contributions to the community by others.  I want to be a part of that positive and supportive community, but at the same time I long for the opportunity to share my honest opinions and feelings about things.  I hate feeling that any thoughts I have that aren't entirely positive should be smushed (that's a technical term, you know) down and forgotten or stored away.  So I'm choosing to share, while trying to do so in a respectful fashion.

And, when it comes to podcasts, I feel more comfortable sharing the less positive side of my opinions here than I do in reviews on iTunes as I definitely don't want to discourage others from finding a given podcast and giving it a try.  It seems the stars you give in an iTunes review ultimately add up with those from other reviewers to a result that will either help someone find and try a podcast or not.  I do not feel it is likely that much attention would be paid in that venue to the substance of my written review.  So negative points there, would do only harm and no good.

So, the second mini-disclaimer is that I really do appreciate all podcasters in the quilting arena.  I have been in an intense podcast-listening phase for the last couple years and don't see any signs of that slowing in the near future.  In particular, my favorites are the personal journal style podcasts where fellow quilters just share what they're working on and what's going on in their lives.  I appreciate the interview style podcasts and podcasts put out by industry pros, but those are definitely not my favorites.

So it is perhaps no surprise that I find after 20 or so episodes that I really don't care for the new-ish podcast by Zede and Mallory of Zede's Sewing Studio.  They are a mother-daughter team (we've had a few of those jump into the quilting podcast sphere recently) and clearly very experienced sewists.  Lately, though, I've found myself turned off several times by an egotism and superiority that has started to flavor the hosts' talk on the show.  They often clearly state that they have a better way of doing something than others do or than a method that is popular online, and spend a bit of time talking about how much more amazing their method or opinion is.  Then they will backtrack a bit and offer up that of course for anyone who wants to do it that way and is happy with that, good for them.  But those words always ring extremely hollow after their several minutes of self-congratulatory chatter about their own approach.

I'm sure Zede and Mallory are both very nice people and I absolutely believe they are experienced sewists, but the tone is definitely wearing on me and I just don't believe there is any one right or best way to sew something.  So I definitely find this particular podcast becoming less of a priority for me and could see that it may eventually drop off my list entirely.  That's how my taste works.

I hope we will get some more of my favorite type of quilting podcasts -- those personal journals like Hip to Be a Square, Katie's Quilting Corner, Lazy Daisy Quilts, Quilt Cabana and some of my lost favorites, like the Scientific Quilter, History Quilter and Pioneer Quilter.  I have thought about doing one and may eventually do so, but in the meantime I will keep listening and trying out every quilting podcast I can find!

Monday, May 9, 2016

My first Splendid Sampler blocks

This weekend I started on some blocks from The Splendid Sampler quilt along which is being put together by Pat Sloan and Jane Davidson.  I picked out a color scheme based on a solid blue I had from Connecting Threads (I love love love them) and a variety of prints in my stash in dark yellows, oranges, red-oranges and reds.  I did four blocks.  These are not in order of the blocks as they were released, just four blocks I picked out that I felt like working on.  There were 3 straightforward piecing blocks and 1 applique block.

I'm pretty happy with this first block:
This is Splendid Sampler Bock #5, "Simple Simon", by Celine Perkins.  I'm pretty happy with the way this one turned out.  

Then I did this one:
This is Block #8, "Friends Around the Square", by Julie Karasek.  Please don't let my results taint your opinion of the block pattern itself!  I really don't care for the way this one turned out and I know it is my fabric selections.  I realized as I was picking out the specific fabrics for these blocks, I was trying to pay attention to value, but wasn't focused on anything else.  So I ignored the "loudness" and scale of the patterns on the fabrics and how the different shades of color would work next to each other.  The large and bold pattern on the red background fabric really doesn't work at all for me and I also don't care for the gold fabric here--the gray flowers just stand out too starkly in what is already a pretty busy block design.  

I already have a tendency in patchwork to stick to solids and tone-on-tone fabrics and to be uncomfortable with how to use fabrics with distinct patterns inside of patchwork next to other colors and values and scale choices.  So I think this Splendid Sampler may be a great opportunity for me to work on that and learn about what works and what doesn't (at least for my tastes) and get batter at that.  So I will consider this block a learning block.  ;-)  

This next block is Block #10, "Iowa", by Sherri McConnell.  I like this block and I'm reasonably satisfied with how mine came out.  The fabric selections are a little odd, but not tooooo disturbing.  But I didn't take seriously enough how much attention needed to be paid to getting the center row to line up correctly where there are three different spots that have 4 points coming together.  So on my first run I just ran it through the machine and then noticed how far off my points were.  Check out the closeup:
YIKES!  So even though I don't rip seams out and redo them very often, this time I did and it turned out much better.

The last block I did this weekend was Block #14, "Flying High", by Janet Clare.  I love this block -- it makes me think of Jonathan Livingston Seagull.  Instead of using different fabrics for each bird, I chose to use a single fabric.  I'm not sure if that was a good or bad choice, as I think I would like the block either way, and it was fun to cut out these adorable little birds and stitch them onto my background.  I am now hearing Neil Diamond's Jonathan Livingston Seagull album in my head... (and that is not a bad thing if you ask me!)

An XL Shirt

So on Friday night I worked up an enlarged version of the Shirts block.  I did this by blowing up the pattern on my copier by 200%.  I think it's too big now (about a 10" block).  Or at least, it's too big for the really small scale print fabric I had selected.

So I will definitely remember now to take the scale of the print into account when I'm doing the different size Shirts.  I'm going to try 150% enlargement next.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Finally this is beginning!

Here's a little paper-pieced something I did last night:

It's from a pattern by Carolyn Friedlander called Shirts.  I coveted the pattern for a while and then bought it and it has been sitting around for the last 6 months or so waiting for some attention.  I fell in love with the idea of doing SOMETHING with this pattern because my husband is rather known for wearing Hawaiian shirts--the louder and crazier the better.  And I have so many fun vibrant fabrics in small amounts that I never seem to know how to quite make the best use of.  So this pattern seemed destined to be a terrific solution for something to quilt/sew that is related to or might be enjoyed by my husband (who generally has no interest in my hobby except to try to feign interest and show support from time to time) and will allow me to really showcase some gorgeous louder patterned fabrics that I often find hard to use in other projects.

So I finally got 'er started.  (Whatever "her" is--still have no idea what the ultimate finished project is here.)  The finished block size is rather small, I think it's just a 6" finished block.  So not only is the paper piecing a little finicky for me (I am just a beginner at paper piecing), but it would take an awful lot of these little shirts to make a quilt of any size.  So I think I'm going to enlarge the pattern and try making a few of different sizes and see if I'm still happy with it.  But other than the size (which is just personal preference of course), I love the way this turned out and the pattern was extremely clear.

So thanks to Carolyn Friedlander and I'll post more shirts as they are completed.