Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Red kittens

Angela recently announced that red would be the color for the month of July over at the Rainbow Scrappy Challenge.  Now that I have professional help, I have delegated the fabric selection.

And apparently, this requires a special committee. With all the committee meetings I now have to attend, it is small wonder that there is much less actual quilt making.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Scrap Vortex

I decided to start a Scrap Vortex quilt after seeing Mystic Quilt's post about making her version and following along at Crazy Mom Quilts.  I can see from this start that I need to work on some contrast. I tend not to use light fabrics and only a smattering of dark. So my scrap quilts can tend toward a medium bright mush.

And speaking of mush...the kittens on the design wall are piled on top of each other quivering in terror.
With good reason.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Teal Fish

Today is the last of the light blue and blue green blocks for the Rainbow Scrappy Challenge. The fish suggest you swim over there right away because there are kittens on the loose over here. And in an ironic twist, the foster kittens escaped into the sewing room where columns of kittens are hanging from the design wall. And two kittens decided that they would climb the kittens...because they were there.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Poo and goo

When Tommy was alive, he constantly worried about how I would survive without his constant guidance.
He left me a manual in 6 point font with all the important points capitalized, underlined and in red. Apparently 95 percent of the manual is important points. Thankfully, it is carefully indexed. This weekend I found myself quite overwhelmed, stressed and way out of my league. I looked up "IF EVERYTHING IS GOING WRONG" and it took me to a section that started out "I TOLD YOU IN NO UNCERTAIN TERMS NOT TO LET KITTENS IN THE HOUSE." This was crossed out and instead there is a single word: CHUMP.

I thought my fosters were calling me "A CHAMP," but apparently purring is designed to cover up all of the nasty things kittens are saying.

You can see the evil emanating from this kitten. This is not from Photoshop, but merely how a camera captures evil rays. Over the weekend, Lizzie the Queen Mother fell ill and I had to separate her from her kittens. At that point, the fosters went from taking ownership of a bathroom to taking over a bathroom, the upstairs hallway and a small bedroom.

Meanwhile Lizzie got so sick she had to go back to the local shelter for care and treatment. She had an abscess from a wound in her abdomen (of an unknown origin..except none of the kittens have an alibi). You may feel sorry for her except I am the one left with the monstrous trio and I am the one covered in poo and goo.

And just to complicate things, while Lizzie was at the shelter, she decided to foster a 3-day old kitten because she was apparently getting nostalgic for the good old days. This means that when she returns to my foster care, she will take over the downstairs where she will be tending to a new foster of her own.

So if any of you know what Tommy would have suggested for getting me out of this, I would love to know given that part of the manual has been heavily redacted by the kittens.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Face transplants

Smitty, over at Three Cat Ranch, is having his staff make set in circles.
 Here at No Cat Ranch, we call this technique a Facial Transplant. Smitty's staff inspired me to get back to work on the Lion quilt.
Because the lion's mane is basically a Dresden Plate, I cut the circle wider, but then I just unpick the stitches between the wedges. This gives me all the flaps I need to iron back over the template.
This is what the mane looks like on the other side...before the lion's face is fit into the circle.
 This technique can also be used for much smaller surgeries like eye transplants. The surgeon who developed this technique is Dale Fleming (Pieced Curves So Simple).

 Sometimes you have to take extra care choosing the right lens for the patient.
 And place the eye for adequate peripheral vision.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Blue green bunnies

Bunnies and kittens...its so sweet around here I'm going to have to get my blood sugar levels checked.
Right now the light blue and blue green bunnies are in a race to go see what's hoppening over at the Rainbow Scrappy Challenge.

And later today, Lizzie the Mother Cat and her kittens are going into town for a check-up. How I get everyone into one carrier may get interesting.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Kitten Progress

My days are divided between sewing and enabling mooching slackers (aka fostering kittens). The kittens divide their day into mooching, developing their weaponry skills, mooching and napping.

And of course, there is nothing more serious than a kitten.

Meanwhile, Lizzie, the queen mother, is working on her looks of disdain that she learned from Tommy's Basic Guide to Cat Poses. She is also working on her own book about the pitfalls of temporary staffing.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Mouse Tutorial Part 3

Mr. Mouse would like to interrupt this tutorial to report that I use my seam ripper as often as a mouse uses his whiskers. And while he feels its sad that he doesn't have whiskers, he thinks it is tragic that I gave instructions yesterday that would make a mutilated mouse. So if you followed along, better get out your seam ripper. Sorry about that!

I mistakenly put the left cheek on the right side and the right cheek on the left side. These means that there is a big hole where the shoulders should be. To correct this, you will have to disconnect the nose from the side sections, rearrange the parts, and then resew them. (I will be going back to yesterday's tutorial to take out the offending parts).

 Now let's resume the tutorial by making mouse feet. For these, you will need two 1.5 by 2.5 inch rectangles of the dark fabric, and three 1.5 inch squares of the background. Use two of the 1.5 inch squares to make flip triangles as shown above on the right hand side. Sew along the diagonal, iron the triangle over, and trim away the excess layers.

Now we are ready to assemble the body. Attach the arms to a 1.5 by 2.5 inch rectangle of the light fabric. While you're at the sewing machine, attach the right and left feet to the center 1.5 inch square of background fabric. And finally, sew the arms, tummy and feet together. If you have corrected the nose section, you can attach this on top to complete the center section.
 In this next series of steps, we are going to complete the right hand section that includes the tail and some toes. Let's make the toes first. This requires a 1.5 by 4.5 inch rectangle of background fabric and a 1.5 inch square of dark fabric. Sew the square onto the rectangle to make a flip triangle.

Now we're going to make a part of the tail, putting a flip triangle on top of a HST (half-square triangle). First, make an HST using your method of choice. I cut 3.5 inch triangles using the easy angle ruler, but you can use any method that will give you a 3 inch finished HST with one part background fabric and the other part dark fabric. You will also need a 2.5 inch square of background.

Lay the 2.5 inch square of background fabric face down on the corner of dark fabric. Sew along the diagonal and iron the flip triangle over. Trim. Now you have the diagonal piece of tail.

You will also want to cut a 3.5 by 4.5 rectangle of background as well as a 1.5 by 4.5 rectangle of dark fabric.

Now you have all the components to make the right hand section of the mouse. First sew together the 3.5 by 4.5 rectangle of background to the 1.5 by 4.5 rectangle, that is, sew A to B. Next sew a 1.5 by 2.5 inch rectangle of background to a 1.5 inch square of dark fabric. This is where the tail is attached to the mouse body. Sew C to D. Next sew the diagonal part of the mouse tail (E) to C+D. And finally sew A+B to C+D+E to F. Or more simply...sew the parts together as shown above.

The left section is the easiest. It's simply a single flip triangle. To make this, sew a 1.5 inch square of dark fabric to a 2.5 by 8.5 inch rectangle of background fabric.
And if you think back to the beginning of the tutorial, the mouse is constructed in four sections. At this point you should have all four sections finished. Now all you have to do is attach the side sections to the center sections. Iron these. The last step is to sew the top section to the bottom section.  For this part, I would suggest that you carefully check that section between the eyes lines up with the nose. I would even suggest the use of a pin to hold that alignment in place while you sew the top section to the bottom section. I only had to sew it three times before I got it right.

Last but not least, its time to call the exterminator. You have a mouse problem!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Mouse Tutorial Part 2

Yesterday, we made the mouse ears, nose and eyes. Today, we will finish up the top section including a bit of tail. We'll also finish up the head and arms.

Making the forehead section is very easy. Just attach the eyes to a 1.5 by 3.5 inch rectangle of the dark fabric and then attach that to a 1.5 by 3.5 inch rectangle of the background. (Of course, you can also sew the eyes to the 1.5 inch strip of dark and then trim...either way...)

Next we'll make the tip of the tail...and this requires us to make a double flip triangle. This is really fun and easy. You will need a 3.5 by 2.5 inch rectangle of the background, a 2.5 inch square of the dark fabric and a 1.5 inch square of the background.

Lay the dark fabric face down on the background fabric and sew along the diagonal. Remember to sew just slightly off of the diagonal toward the corner so you can iron it over and have the corners meet. Trim away the bottom two layers leaving a quarter inch seam.

Now for the double flip. Place the small square of background fabric in the corner of your flip triangle, sew along the diagonal, then iron it over, and trim. You have just done a double flip.

You now have all the pieces for the top section of the mouse. Sew them together as shown.

The mouse requires two pairs of half square triangles (HSTs): two using the background fabric and the light fabric and two using the dark fabric and the light fabric. You may make the HSTs using your favorite method...for me its using the Easy Angle ruler. I am using 2.5 inch fabric to make an HST that will be 2 inch square finished.

The picture above shows the triangles cuts using the easy angle ruler and also the finished HSTs.

And now we're going to use the HSTs with the background fabric to make the mouse cheeks. For this, we are going to put a flip triangle criss-cross on the HST.

Now that you have made a flip triangle over the two HSTs, your mouse has cheeks. Sew the cheeks to the nose, and then sew a 1.5 inch strip on top of the nose section.

Tomorrow we will finish the mouse tutorial...giving him the rest of his body, his feet and his tail.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Mouse Tutorial Part 1

Today Lizzie the Cat learned how to take a selfie. I named her Lizzie, a nickname for Elizabeth...because she is the queen mother. The shelter, for reasons I can't explain, gave her the name Sardine. In any case, due to her presence, the mice have gone into hiding and have taken their genomics breeding program with them.

This means that I will be the one explaining how to make the mouse...but I can only explain using old fashioned patchwork techniques. Sorry about that.

It all starts with a drawing on graph paper...and depending on the finished size I either choose a 1 inch square grid or a .75 inch square grid. For this mouse, I'm using a one inch grid and the final mouse will be 11 inches square.

Before I begin, I like to cut strips of fabric, choosing strip sizes that will make the process easier. I often have lots of scraps left over, but this just feeds into other scrap quilt projects.

For the mouse, I would cut 2 strips for background fabric: one 3.5 inch strip and one 1.5 inch strip.
I would also cut one 3.5 inch strip of a light fabric and one 3.5 inch strip and a 1.5 inch strip of a darker fabric. (One 3.5 inch strip would work as well.) You will also need three 1.5 inch squares of black or whatever you might want to use for the nose and eyes.

The diagram on the right shows the gross anatomy for the mouse. It is constructed in four large sections. Each of these sections are built from smaller units.

Today we will be building the mouse's main sensory organs: the ears, eyes and nose. The ears are simply snow ball blocks. Cut two 3.5 inch squares of the light fabric, six 1.5 inch squares of the background and 2 1.5 inch squares of the dark fabric. The 1.5 inch squares are placed face down in the corners of the 3.5 inch squares and sewn on the diagonal. For each ear, sew on three background squares and one dark square.

Then the flap of each corner square is ironed over to make what I call a flip triangle. The bottom two layers of the triangle can be cut away (leaving at least 1/4 inch from the seam line). Now watch your language, because your mouse can hear you now.

The eyes are very simple. Just sew two 1.5 inch squares of black fabric on either sides of a 1.5 inch square of the dark fabric. And the nose is simply a 1.5 inch square of black fabric sewn to a 1.5 inch square of the dark fabric.

But don't forget that there are other ways to make eyes. For example, you can fussy cut black on white polka dot fabric to get googly eyes. You can center them or have them look to one side or the other...mice tend to be shifty eyed.

And now your mouse can see, hear and smell.

And while you have been making mice, Lizzie the Cat is busy building killing machines.

The kittens are very active...a constant whir of activity that is quite difficult for me to catch with a camera.

Beginning tomorrow, I'm going to start reading Tommy's policies and procedures manuals to them so they can get a leg up on their competition.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Kitten project

It is taking me way too long to sew the longitudinal sashing for the kittens quilt top. So why don't I blame it on my visitors. And seriously, it is taking a lot of effort to confine their mess, noise and chaos to one room. And while I'm venting, I hope I don't offend anyone, but it is possible to use the "I'm a single mother of triplets" card a few too many times. That just doesn't excuse you to drone on and on about the benefits of massage therapy when your son has your daughter pinned to the ground in a head lock.

Tommy would say that my visitor has "lack of planning" and "care free" written all over her face, but then he was never a fan of abstract expressionism.

And cats should never be allowed to name their kittens.  While the names "Tuna" "Anchovy" and "Trout" are unique and creative, it sadly establishes a prey mindset within a ferocious predator.