Saturday, December 22, 2012

Happy Holidays

Hi Everyone,

Just a note to say that I will not be posting until after New Years. I'm baking and putting up trees and generally being Christmassy.

I'll have some new projects and house updates in January.  Promise!

Have wonderful holidays, crafting, and family time!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Organized Sewing Space - Finally

Hello again,

I finally decided my sewing space need to a) be organized enough that is doesn't make be curse and b) not take up my entire dining room table.  I have a sewing table in the bedroom, but since I like having music or movies on while I'm working, I always end up bringing the sewing machine out to the living room anyway.  Sadly, I did not take before pictures, but just imagine total chaos and not being able to see the table top.  Not conducive to sewing at all!

Now, the whole table looks pretty again!

And then when I want to sew, I just do this:

I bought those plastic drawers in the corner to go under my bathroom sink, but my house is strangely designed, so they don't fit.

They are, however, the perfect size for organizing my sewing stuff so it's not all over the table anymore.   All the many small things are in the bottom drawer, like the pin cushion, rotary cutter, extra blades, etc. 

The top drawer holds finished quilt squares for the old clothes quilt, cut squares for the Space Invaders quilt and old clothes quilt.  At the moment, it's also holding patterns.  I'm sure there is a great way to organize patterns - I just don't know what it is yet.

Those plastic packages on top are actually the packages sheets come in.  I bought a couple sets of sheets, because I had many guests coming in a row and two sets of sheets - I was about to throw out the packages and realized they would be perfect for fabric.

Recognize the colors?  That's the fabric from the Space Invaders quilt!  Once I've cut all the squares from it, I put it in there to use for whatever I do next.

This is the fabric I've been using for the old clothes quilt.  I have a ton of quilt squares cut from these already, so they get put to the side while I actually put the ones I have cut together.  There will be another post on that one soon - there has been progress!

There is another one that holds scraps and small pieces that's a smaller container. (I think it must have been one sheet or pillowcases or something else little.  I do not remember at this point.)  Overall, they stack nicely, keep things organized, and protect it from the waves of dog hair that float over my house every time I brush Casey.

And, just so no one thinks poor Casey gets ignored while I sew, the other benefit of moving my sewing space is that his living room bed is right next to me:

That gray thing on the left by the radiator is Casey's current bed covered with his favorite blanket and that pile in the corner is his toy box.  (Yes, there will someday be a project to make Casey an attractive bed - I should stuff it with the shredded pieces of toys he leaves all over the place! Hmmm...)  He has a tendency to come sit with his head in my lap while I sew, which is alternately adorable and really annoying, depending on whether I'm using the foot pedal.

It is so nice, though, to have my table back and organized again!  And my house looks about 10 times less chaotic now too.  Bonus!

Till next time (when there will be more sewing),

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Excel Quilt Planning

Hello Again, 

So several of my friends have asked me to give more explanation on my use of Microsoft Excel to plan my quilting and cross stitch patterns.  I'm not sure how much information I have to give you, but I'll be as useful as I can.  Feel free to ask for clarification in the comments too.

Basically, Excel is wonderful for anything that is based on squares - perfect for the kind of block designs of my video game quilts or the quotes I do in cross stitch.  I learned to design my own cross stitch patterns from my wonderful Mother when I realized at about 15 that most patterns are way, way too cute for my taste.  (And yes, Subversive Cross Stitch is one of my favorite things.)  Back then, however, I spent hours taping together pieces of graph paper and would get really frustrated really quickly.  I am not patient enough for that! 

So being the giant geek that I am, I was working on data in Excel one day and suddenly realized it would be perfect.  The first pattern I did was this one:

And yes, that border was evil to do and to put in Excel.  I actually copied it off a costume a friend had made that just sat on my desk while I painstakingly put it into the cell borders.  Obviously, each cell is a block on your fabric or an X if you're making a transfer pattern.

The first step for this is making all the cells a uniform size.  If you click that empty square in the top right corner of your sheet (or press CTR-A on the keyboard), you highlight the entire sheet.  Either drag your cells so they are the same size or right click and go to properties and set them to be the same size.

For cross stitch, I use two methods:
1) For full stitches, I just shade the entire square - the button that looks like a paint bucket. (Half and quarter stitches don't work nicely in Excel - I usually put in an X in the color the half stitch will be and try very hard to remember what I'm doing when I go to stitch the pattern.)

2) For back stitch, I use the "draw border" function and click on the edge of the cell where I want the line to be.  (Click on on the little arrow next to the "Borders" button -> "Draw Border")

3) For something like a motif or a border, once you have the initial horizontal or vertical iteration done, you can copy and paste it in to make life faster.  So much better than drawing it over and over!! 

Moving on to Quilts
Creating block quilt patterns is not much different, though I do a few different things to make life easier while I design the pattern.  Do the same first step, so the squares are the same size.  In my case, I make them 10 pixels wide, because it's easy - they can really be any size. 

1) Decide the size of your quilt and figure out how many inches that will be.  For this method, each cell on the spreadsheet will represent one inch.  

2) Leaving a few blank rows above and to the left, highlight the correct number of cells across and down. You can do this in landscape or portrait direction - it doesn't matter for the program - whichever is easier for you to work with.  (In recent versions of Excel, when you highlight many rows and columns, it will tell you next to the cursor how many you have highlighted.)

3) Click the little button next to the "Borders" button and select "Outside Borders".  I will sometimes also go to the "Line Style" option at the bottom of the menu and make the border really thick, so it's easy to see no matter what colors I'm working with.

4) This lets you mess with the size of your squares as well as your layout, so you can try your design in any size you like.  To insert the lines that represent the edge of your blocks, you can either use Draw Borders again or highlight 3 squares for 3" blocks and hit Outside Borders again.  Play around with it to see what method you like! 

You should have a grid that looks like this if you did 3" squares. (In may case, I put a 1" border around the edge just because - it eventually turned into a 3" border in the final design stages.)

5) Now, you can just highlight the cells inside those squares and use the fill button to make them any color you want.  If you need to undo your work, just select all and hit "No Fill" on that menu with the little paint bucket.  

The initial plan for the Space Invaders Quilt looked like this before I made it pretty:
There was really never any question that the background was going to be black for this one, so I eventually filled it in and made it pretty. 
Hope that is a better explanation.  If it's not clear, leave a comment and I will do another post or respond to your questions.

Using Excel for quilt planning and cross stitch design has been a huge help to me.  I hope it is as much fun for you!

Till next time, 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

My First Patterns!

Hello again,

I got an awesome package in the mail yesterday - my first ever dress patterns! :)  I ordered them from the simplicity website and I was a little unsure it all worked alright, but here they are.

I need to learn to make my own work clothes desperately.  Apparently I'm an odd shape - who knew?  And while buying very expensive clothes is awesome, I need to find a way to make things that are my kindof retro style, in colors I like, and that don't cost me crazy amounts of money.

I bought a whole bunch of patterns and it's not easy to see them in that picture, so here are the actual envelopes.

These two are just about my favorite dress patterns - that second one I can make in a million fabrics and where to work with little sweaters.  It will be so cute!  The first one is a perfect summer dress and with a cardigan, I can wear that one to work as well.

These two are a little more basic in style, but both will be super useful:

I mean, how can you go wrong with knit tops and pencil skirts?  I will have to get some fancier knit patterns, but for now these will  help a bit.  And pencil skirts are never, ever a bad thing.  I just need more and more and more of those.  Here's hoping I can pull off some of those.

And, of course, I had to buy a pattern for a sheath dress and see if I can make these.  I wear these almost every day - there is no way I can ever have enough basic, princess seamed, sheath dresses!

So I guess the next step is trying to find fabric I like that seems easy to work with for my first attempts at these.

I do have one random using on dress patterns - the sizing in these is strange.  The sizing runs miniature in comparison to even expensive dress sizing.  I'm usually an 8 or a 10 at Macy's, but I'm a 16 in these.  I find this odd.

Till next time,

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Quilt Progress

Hello again,

Sorry it's been so long!  Everything has been a little nuts and blogging was the thing that got cut to make life calmer.

I did finally find black fabric that will work for the space invaders quilt - hooray! So the color scheme will be:

See? That's going to be perfect! 
I also cut the squares of the blue fabric and then had way too much fun just playing with all the squares on the black background:

I have begun to think this is going to look amazing when it's done.  And given how frustrated I was getting trying to find really black quilting cotton, I think I get a few minutes of playing with it to make myself happy.

So - progress!!

Someday this might actually become a real quilt. :)

Till next time,

Monday, October 29, 2012

Project Planning & Goals

Hello again,

I realized the other day that I am working on projects as I remember I'm doing them and I think that means I need to do a little goal setting.  It may be that some of these don't happen, but these are my somewhat ambitious goals for this blog for the next few months.

#1) Finish E's Space Invaders quilt (and, of course, show you the whole process)

#2) Finish the clothes quilt for my bed (this one is the one that might get bumped)

#3) Buy my first pattern and make myself something I can actually wear.  I'm short on work clothes, so I think this will probably be something totally boring and practical. (Though super exciting for me if I succeed!)

#4) Find a pattern I like and make my first pencil skirt.  Then make a whole bunch more. (Remember that thing about needing work clothes?)

#5) Do something about the masses of too-big T-shirts in my life.  I have a whole drawer of these that I want to try to fix or alter or turn into something else.

#6) Make Casey a dog bed as pretty as he is.  It's going to be in my living room.  I would like it not to be ugly!  My puppy is so pretty - he should have a dog bed that does him justice.

I think those are pretty adequate goals for the next 3 months.  I suspect that quilting those two quilts will be the thing that breaks me. 

We'll see how that goes!  I have ideas and I'm scheming at least.  I'm always happy when I'm scheming! :)

Till next time,

Friday, October 26, 2012

Making a Bar: Part 2

Hello again,

When I left you last time, we had just stripped, sanded, and primed a dresser and gone off to procrastinate with beer and video games.

Painted white, the dresser was actually quite pretty and there was some discussion of really making it white.  White, however, would not go very well with the rest of my decor and in a house with two dogs, would probably only be white for about a week. 

We spent awhile going through the colors in my apartment, because I am horribly indecisive about color.  That might explain why my walls are still white even though I've lived in this apartment for two years....

As you can see, most of them were pretty dark and solid.  This piece is going in a corner all by itself and I want it to stand out as a strong piece. 

I was not a huge fan of the black and Q was not a huge fan of the blue for this piece.  We thought the grey would be incredibly hard to get right and so discarded it.  I might do a rubbed blue when I find something to put the TV on. (That's another story all together!)

That left us with a nice, rich red, which I loved the idea of.  We decided to go fairly dark and try for a somewhat shiny finish.

That was all well and good, but then I went to my local hardware store and made this mistake of telling the guy who was at the paint counter what I was going to do with the paint.  He decided that since it was going to be a bar, I should use deck paint, which he said would be the same consistency, but dry harder. 

That seemed totally fine until I got home and discovered that he had given me concrete floor paint instead, which is not the same consistency.  It's more like stain.  But, of course, we didn't quite realize that until we had already started and the hardware store was closed.  Sooo...we did what Q and I usually do and went for it anyway.

Now, one cool thing about the super-thin paint, Q was painting with a foam brush and it left lines in the paint that looked like wood grain. I think it took quite a bit of concentration, but she made it look like this piece was actually made of wood! All those spots where the laminate was damaged came out looking like knots in the wood.  Awesome accident!

I wish I had taken pictures of the colors as it evolved, but sadly I did not.  Coat one - coral pink.  That's right, really, really pink.  For those of you who know me, you will understand why this required a drink.  I do not do pink!  The second coat was a kindof magenta-like pale red color that I couldn't describe accurately.

The third coat, however, started to look red.  Like fire engine red. Or maybe cherry red. At this point, it was 2am and we decided it was time to go to bed and see what it looked like in the morning. Sadly, Q's flight was in the morning, so she didn't get to really see the finished product.

Once it dried, it looked awesome!

I had bought these fabulous knobs for the top drawer:

I love them. What? I'm Irish - the knot-like quality appealed to me.

I had planned to only put them on top drawers, but then I realized something important - the holes drilled for hardware on these were 96mm, which apparently doesn't give me lots of options. My local hardware stores had nothing and I am not a patient woman. I wanted it done now!

So I did something I thought was going to be a little odd. I put knobs down the front in both holes instead of wide handles. And, lo and behold, it looked fantastic!

I really thought that would look strange, but in the end, I absolutely love the double row.

And this is where just going for it benefits Q and me - I ended up loving the bright red too. I realized once I put it in place that it is exactly the same color as the roof I can see out my window and it is beautiful in that space. :)

Only problem - now it makes the rest of my furniture look shabby! Clearly, I need to step up my game in the rest of my house.

Once I really set it up and get glass shelves to go above it, I will post again about the first finished corner of my house. For the moment, I just keep stepping back to admire it. :D

So once again, before and after:


Hope you love it as much as I do!

Till next time,

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Making a Bar: Part 1

Hello again,

Apologies for the break in broadcasting.  My best friend Q was in town and we did a big project that took over the quilt making time.  So rather than the usual, here is the project we worked on in two parts.

I recently found out I didn't get an apartment I wanted that was much bigger than mine, so Q kindly decided to help me start fixing my house to make me feel better about this.  And now, I have plans! Lots and lots of plans. :)

Step 1: replace my weird kitchen cart in the corner of the living room with a functional bar that I can really use.  And Q had an awesome idea - take the icky dresser I got for free that is not really being used in the bedroom and turn it into a bar.  Brilliant!  And, because the universe smiled on me, it fit perfectly - like 1/32 of an inch perfectly.

Only problem?  It looked like this:

Yeah, the starfish and pale blue do not work in my living room.  Also, those handles slide back into the dresser really easily and that is frustrating. 

So Q had the awesome idea of stripping and painting this thing a color that I would love and making it a bar.  Brilliant, obviously!

While she was visiting, she decided to start stripping it.  Now, we didn't actually realize this thing was not going to be easy. It was made of laminate and had been painted with one of those special, unpleasant primers that makes paint stick to laminate.  Yeah, it looked simple to strip in the beginning:

So.... Apparently laminate with primer on it is made of evil. Pure, un-remediated evil.  Q started the stripping while I was at work around 2 in the afternoon.  She was still going when I got home at 6 and started to help. 

Now, Q knows what she's doing.  Since I had two dogs in the house, we were using the indoor-safe primer, but she's used it many times before.  Our supplies were:

Really - it didn't look like it was going to a combined 14 hours of labor to strip!  It really, really didn't.

Finally, we got it stripped after delivered pizza and a fair amount of beer...

Yeah, it looks awful, doesn't it? And there were places where we just couldn't scrape the paint off, so we had to do way more sanding than expected. Those little curves on the drawers? They make it really pretty, but they are also annoying as all get out to strip and sand.

However, with more beer and more pizza, we got it all ready to be primed and it started to look like a real piece of furniture finally!

Now isn't that prettier?

Once it was all primed and looking like a real piece of furniture again, we took a night off and played video games....

Hooray for high scores in all the version of Pac Man and Qix and Space Invaders and Galaga.  That's right... We are video game queens! :)  (If you live in DC, the bar that has all of these is the Board Room on Connecticut, by the way. It's awesome!)

Part Two coming up, where we have some problems with paint, color confusion, and a beautiful finished product!

Till next time,  

Monday, October 15, 2012

Space Invaders Quilt: Cutting Endlessly

Hello again,

Well, I have finally started cutting squares for the Space Invaders Quilt!  I was having some difficulty getting even strips to do mass cutting, so I took my mother's suggestion and stopped trying to be efficient.  "Accuracy over efficiency, dear." was the comment, I believe!

I pulled out my materials and started with purple, since it was on top.

As you can see, I finally cleaned my table to make this easier!

Once I started cutting, I'm pretty sure I cut for about 4 hours straight.  I needed a feeling of accomplishment.  And I most definitely got it!  I discovered that once I cut a straight line on the bottom, I could just line up the template and only cut two sides of it to have a square.  Sometimes I messed up and there was more cutting involved, but at least I'm confident my squares are all 3.5" and will not do anything odd when I go to piece them together.

A very nice commenter told me about strip piecing (Thank StephC!) and I think for the next quilt I will definitley use that.  I'm feeling a little uncertain about getting the strips right on this quilt.  I'm hoping I get the hang of cutting nice, straight strips soon, because that would be really useful for my next quilt!

I cut 40 squares in a few hours, which was way faster than I expected and then I had to stand back and admire my handiwork....

And.... Then I cleaned my house, because my arm hurt. :P

When I stopped avoiding finishing my task, I came back and cut another 40 squares.  Then, shockingly, I was done!  I'm still a little amazed that I cut 80 squares in a day!

I also realized that somehow, my math on how much fabric I would need was off by about a factor of 5.  I have 2 yards of this fabric and I used less than half a yard.  It's a pretty purple though, so I will just use it in something in future!

Hooray for having a fabric stash!

Till next time (when I get to cut 80 blue squares and about 100 black sqaures.),

Update: After looking at my pattern again, I realized that I am very silly and cut way more squares than was necessary.  Anyone have another child who should get one of these? I'm pretty sure I doubled all the numbers!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Space Indavers Quilt: Fabric

Hello again,

Since the plans for the quilt are now complete, it is time to talk fabric. I have no real idea what I'm doing, so I decided to go with all quilting cotton of the same type. I was worried that they would match up strangely or wear differently over time otherwise. I needed solid colors, which surprisingly hard to find in quilting cotton in the right colors. I also need black, which is turning out to be a trial - but more on that later!

I went online with a general idea of the colors I needed and found, which had Kona Quilting Cotton in a pretty wide range of colors. I ordered the three that I thought would work best and they finally came! (Who knew getting fabric in the mail would make me giddy!)

So I got these three:

Since, as always, these were taken at night with a flash, the colors are a tiny bit off.  That one on the end that looks black?  Yeah, it's not black - it's a very dark brown.  Now, it's a pretty color and all, but it is not going to work for this quilt.  Space Invaders absolutely must have a really dark, black background!  I like the color, so I'll keep it anyway and use it in something else someday - an excuse for more sewing. :)

I knew I had to pre-shrink fabric, but I had no idea what I was doing, so I found this awesome post on Gertie's Blog for Better Sewing. I just threw mine in the washer with some dark sheets and dried like I usually do. 

Only thing I forgot? Those instructions on serging or zigzagging the edge? Those are a good idea!  My edges look like this in the good spots:

Not a big deal, but it mean that I had a ton of clipping frayed threads to do!  Yes, yes I do now have a million purple and blue threads all over my house...  And a long-haired black dog. Who is (of course) now finding every loose thread and getting it tangled in his hair.  But hey, he loves being brushed, so it's his latest excuse to get groomed every night!

It took forever to iron all of these and I learned a couple of things:
1) My little tiny ironing board is not going to work for quilting.  I need to buy a full-sized one.

2) The fact that my iron has no auto-shutoff makes me nervous and is annoying cause I keep having to unplug it.

3) Steam. Steam is really important.  Why didn't I know this? Apparently, I'm just kind of a slob who never irons things. (Sorry Mom!) I had to iron everything twice, because this first time did not take without steam!

4) When I put my iron down, it hisses out a little cloud of steam. This should NOT be pointed at my own arm, my dog, my wall, or my table. Obvious?  Why yes, yes it kind of is. Now.
So, 4 hours later, I have fabric ready for cutting! And a sore arm from ironing for hours.
Next up: Finding truly black fabric and cutting quilt squares, both of which may take awhile. But I'm having so much fun, I really don't care.

Till next time,  

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Old Clothes Quilt #1

Hello Again,

Since my first quilt square, I have decided I need more practice at this before I take on the Space Invaders Quilt. Since that one is a gift, I need it to come out right!  Practice seemed like a good idea.  Since the dogs have been slowly destroying the pretty quilt on my bed, I thought I would make something for myself first.  At least then it doesn't matter if it's a little off.  Like with people, a few imperfections make quilts interesting, right?

Since I've lost a ton of weight, I have many, many clothes that no longer fit.  Some of them are good for donation, but others have stains or tears that would make me feel bad sending them to Good Will.  I decided to pull those out and see if any of them were fabric that would work for a quilt and, happily, some of them are!
I pulled apart a shirt and two pairs of pants that had tears at the hem and ended up with these:

That one in the middle is a dark blue, not black as it looks.  Again, this would work better if I ever took these pictures when the sun was up!

I cut several quilt squares of each and got my pinning, sewing, and seam pressing process on.  I wanted to do some experimenting before I went all-out making millions of squares! 

I ended up with some very pretty quilt squares, including the first one I made a few days ago:

From a distance, these look awesome. I think the quilt is going to end up being really pretty!  It's the right colors for my bedroom right now too - I have a thing for blue clearly.
While I love these and will use them in the quilt, there are to work out in my quilt square-making skills. 
I had some trouble getting the squares to line up right, which I think is mostly due to not perfectly cut squares.  I think? Having the seams not perfect on the first batch led to problems later on and some of the squares look like this if you look closely:
In some ways, I think it kinda looks cool, since all 4 corners were off by about the same amount on that one, but I need to figure out what I did wrong so I don't do it on the Space Invaders Quilt!
It looks fine overall:
OK, yes, that one seam is off still, but I honestly don't think I will notice it once it's in a big quilt.  Probably other people are not crazy perfectionists like me.  And I would be a little creeped out if someone spent enough time staring at my bed to notice a few off corners on the quilt, come to think of it.
In the end, I think I will end up doing a 60" x 80" quilt with these.  I think I can just do 5 across with 6" strips in between (makes each square a good) and it will look pretty.  It will need to be white or blue to go with the blue/grey/white theme I have going at the moment, but that shouldn't be hard to find.
I already have 4 squares, so it's almost a row!  I have begun cutting individual squares with my template instead of strips, since it seems to work better.  (There must be a trick to cutting perfect strips, but I haven't figured it out yet. Gotta work on that!)  So look for more quilt squares to come in future.  I think this is going to be awesome when it's done.
Till next time,

Monday, October 8, 2012

Space Invaders Quilt: Planning

Hello again!

It looks like I might actually be able to post often enough to make this blog a thing for me.  I'm not sure I'm terribly worried if anyone other than my Mom and Grandma read it, since really I started putting crafts up here so they could see them.  Perhaps someday it will entertain someone else too!

As I said in my last post, the real purpose of getting my sewing machine was to try to make a baby quilt for my friend E. We chatted about designs that she would love and things I thought I would be able to do with my limited machine sewing experience.  We are both complete geeks and love old video games, as does her husband.  I thought and thought and hunted around through the crafty blogs and I just wasn't seeing quite what I wanted.

Then I had a brain flash: Space Invaders!  Eight bit games are totally easy to make into quilts because they are already just blocks.  And Space Invaders is the ultimate original geek game.  I talked to E. and she loved the idea as much as I did.  She said her husband even did a little happy dance when she told what I wanted to do.

I should probably have been more intimidated by designing my own pattern, but it doesn't seem that different from designing cross stitch patterns, which I do all the time.  I spent a ton of time sketching out characters on graph paper and then remembered that I have the magic power of technology.

Excel is awesome for doing cross stitch patterns, so why not quilts too?  I can make that work!  I just select all and set each column and row to 20 pixels, so I have totally perfect, even squares to work with.  I redid the characters in there and it was all much easier to plan! It took quite awhile to choose which characters I wanted to use.  There are actually four characters, but I could not figure out how to fit all of them on a baby quilt without having to use 1" or 2" squares and that sounded like a lot of really small sewing!

It took awhile, but I decided these two were the cutest:

I spent days playing with different ideas and arrangements and sizes.  I thought about doing smaller characters and laying them out like the game itself, but I realized it would a) take for ever and b) be likely beyond my skill set.

After days of playing around, I decided on doing two large characters and making the quilt slightly larger than a normal crib quilt.  In the end, I ended up with this fantastic design that I am completely excited to make.

With the grid of where the squares will be:

I pulled out the grid, so I could see what it would look like and be sure I was really happy with it.  I have no idea how I'm going to quilt this so that it still looks like Space Invaders, but I will find a way! 

Now - to get the many, many squares cut and measured, so I can get moving before E's daughter makes it to 6 months!

Wish me luck.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Project Three: First Quilt Square

Hello again!

I realized that no matter how many amazing projects I want to try from the crafty blogs, I did actually buy this sewing machine for a purpose.  I promised a friend of mine who was having a baby that I would make her a baby quilt.  (I say was having because I am so behind that she has now had said baby!)  Since that's the plan, I needed to get on the learning to make quilts part!

I decided to use some of the fabric Mom so generously brought me on her visit and see if I could make a very basic quilt square.  The quilt I have planned for E. is all squares, so I have already bought a 3.5" square template.

I had some trouble getting 3.5" strips to be even, maybe because my cutting mat isn't that big?  I need to work on that!  There is a LOT of cutting in my near future.  Either way, I did manage to get a bunch of squares out of the fabric eventually.

I laid them out in a grid on the cutting mat, so I could see how it would look in fabric and not just in my head.

Once I decided I liked the layout, I started pinning everything together as instructed by my little sewing manual. And yes, today's lesson is that pins are sharp! Who knew? :P

It took a surprising amount of time to get everything pinned so nothing buckled and everything lined up right. (I forgot to take a picture of the first pinning set. I sewed the first batch of pairs together and then did this part.)

One I had everything pinned, I sewed the 1/4" seams and I am very proud that they are pretty much straight!  They're not perfect, but I have no illusions about my beginner status with getting really straight seams.

Then I had these three sets of squares and I pressed the seams so they would all lay flat.  Is there a direction you're supposed to press seams?  I pressed mine so the edge faced left for some reason, but then I realized I didn't know if there was a right way to do that part.

Once I won the fight with my iron and got all the seams pressed, I pinned one set together, sewed it and pinned the next.  I am getting better at the seams - these are closer to straight! (I am so proud of myself.)

And then, all of a sudden and much faster than I expected, I had a quilt square!  It's so pretty. :)

This only took me about an hour and half from beginning to end.  I honestly thought it would take me much, much longer.  Apparently, I'm cooler than I think?  Haha, or this is easier than I think!

I actually love the way this looks.  I think I might find a similar fabric and make a quilt for my bed that's just very simply squares alternated like this.  It's basic, but somehow I like the look more in person than I do when I lay it out as an idea.

Next up: Learning to cut straight strips, so I can start cutting for E's quilt!  It's going to be SO cool when I'm done.

Wish me luck,