Monday, July 20, 2009

Tomatoes to the Wind

{Handmade tomato hangers soaking up the sun}

Dirty has a pretty green thumb. See all the pretty green stuff in the yard. That's Dirty's deal. Me, I am more yellow-green to brownish-green. But I found a way to help, even if I can't plant, water, trim or harvest. I can make spiffy little tomato hanger baskets!
{Only one plant survived the transplant on this one}
Several weeks ago we transplanted the tomato seedlings we bought several months ago. Yeah. At first we made a big 24"x 24"x24" hanging box for 9 plants. We hung it on a rope from a tree. Then we had a classic summer thunderstorm and it started to swing. It had to weight 40 pounds. 40 pounds swinging in 35 mph winds near a screen door is not really a good combination. Not to mention 40 pounds turns into super heavy when saturated with rain. Not recommended.

{This baby is rockin'}
After the too huge tomato hanger debacle, we made five small ones instead. Dirty made the wire hangers out of a roll of fencing and wire. I made the basket liners out of cheap-o burlap and pre-made bias tape to finish the fold over edges and make the corner ties. (The ginormous one had Velcro instead of longer ties, it didn't work out.)

{Our wet dog bath towel is hanging in the back to kind of help the tomato plants show up better in the picture}
These baskets are about 6" x 8" x 12" and are perfect for 4-5 plants. I cut two strips of canvas: one strip 9" x 32" and one strip 7" x 34" (width+1" x depth+bottom+depth+2" for fold over). I laid them out to cross in the middle. Using a zigzag stitched, I stitched a rectangle and X where the strips overlapped. Then I stitched up the sides, stopping about 2" from the top.

{More wet dog bath towel, but this basket is growing like crazy}

While the bag is inside-out, put it in the basket to make sure it fits and that the tops fold over about an 1" or so. I used a Sharpie to mark where to mark the hole for the plants. (It can be seen better in the first and second picture.) I made these about 1/2" x 1/2". That makes them large enough for the stem to grow, but not large enough for a bunch of soil to spill out when it rains 4" in one day or when I over water them--see yellow-green thumb mentioned above.

I stitch around the marked opening three times with a zigzag stitch, then cut out the section. After all the sections where reinforced with the stitching and cut it out, I attached the bias tape around the raw edges leaving about 4-5 inches on each end to tie the corners together. I started by stitching the bias tape to the two short edges that make the corner seam, then adding the bias to the long straight edges with the extra to tie. All of this was done with a zigzag stitch, too.

Dirty filled the baskets with compost and soil to the lowest openings, threaded through the plants, filled to the next opening, repeat with the plants and filled up the rest of the basket. Some of the baskets have a plant in the top, too.

We hung these cute little tomato hangers from the fallen tree that also holds my clothesline. We can remove them if it rains too much or gets too windy. That's also why we didn't put any plants out the bottom. They don't have any blossoms yet, which is not a big surprise since they were planted so late. Luckily we have an extended growing season. They've tripled in size so far, so I think we'll be fine.

The idea is that tomato plants are pretty much vines. We spent the last two summers staking and re-staking our plants in the regular garden, just to watch them get drowned by a tropical storm. The hangers can easily be brought indoors if/when another tropical storm sits and spins over us for a week dropping 22" of rain and blowing her little heart out. Oh, it'll happen and we'll be ready. =]

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Snip.Sew.Send. ~ July

Since the first month of our Snip.Sew.Send. quilting bee was my month to send fabrics, July is the first month I am able to use someone else's fabrics and instructions. The fine maiden of Mushyhed's Sweatshop sent us all different pieces of Anna Maria Horner's Chocolate Lollipops collection and requested a 12.5" square blocks. The rest was up to each member and her (may I say quite astounding) creativity. Need proof? Just check out the blocks already posted.

{Chocolate Lollipops with a chewy strawberry nougat center}
At first I thought I would slightly alter a pattern I found in a quilting book, but once I received the fabrics I had to rethink things. I agree with much of my hive in that the patterns and colors really called for bigger swatches of fabric. With my first choice I would have cut fairly small pieces and I think it would have taken too much away from the fabric themselves. However, I will use that idea in the future mainly because I thought of two or three hilariously ridiculous names for the pattern. Forget about that now.
In the end I chose to steal a design I saw in another quilting bee. It is based off a classic quilt block, Kansas Dugouts. Going with the theme, I think they look like donuts or high class chocolates with chewy strawberry nougat centers.

{Measure twice, cut once is totally lost on me}

OK, I am a very "fly by the seat of my pants" girl and didn't really plan and check everything out the way my Girl Scout Leaders probably taught me a million years ago, but this lets the brain work and clean up the cobwebs that have collected in the nooks and crannies.

I had the other three print fabrics traced and cut when I tried the template on this last print. It didn't fit. I thought about cutting the strip in half, in using it as the little triangles, of searching for more of this fabric, but in the end I just made up the difference with what was available and I am glad to say that every last thread of this print was used to make this portion of the block. Hopefully the pieces blend in with the print. Is it bad etiquette to point out blunders? But is this really even a blunder? Honey, I hope you don't think so because I think its frugal and resourceful.


Sunday, July 5, 2009

Mod Sampler Quilt for Sue

{Mod Sampler Quilt}

Finally. And only 3 weeks late. But the Mod Sampler Quilt (pattern by Oh, Fransson!) I made for my friend Sue's 30th birthday is finally pieced, quilted, binded (or is it bound?), washed and folded up for mailing tomorrow. Her birthday was 3 weeks ago and I really should have finished it way before that, but, it wouldn't be truly a gift from my heart if it weren't fashionably late.

{The rear view}

I like it a lot. I could have gone a little darker on the sashing, but it's OK. Sue has two young boys and I hope that she makes this her grab and go quilt for ball games and trips to the beach and picnics in the park and forts in the living room and good movies on TV.

{The three-quarter shot always makes you look thinner}

Overall, the pattern is great. Very easy to follow, sectioned well for both quick sits at the machine and longer stays, too. Elizabeth (pattern author) recommend pressing all the seams open, which was fine for the first two blocks (side-by-side and side-by-side-by-side-by-side) but when it got to piecing the third block (4x4) I got way too impatient with that. I just started pressing the seams to the side. I figured I gave an alternative method a try, found out it's not for me and went about my merry way.

{Example of the 4x4 which most likely has seams pressed to the side}

{One of my favorite blocks, both style and fabric combo}

{Another fav block style, but you see how the solid brown is too close in color to the sashing?}

Elizabeth has fantastic tutorials on sandwiching, quilting and binding. My mitered corners are becoming more and more like actual corners rather than round-a-bouts.

{Nearly 90 degrees, nearly}

I am still working on free motion quilting. I've got areas that are really dense and other spots that could have held a few more stitches, but again, overall I am pleased.

{Free motion quilting on the back}

Somewhere on the Flickr group pool I saw someone stitched a fabric flap for the label. I completely copied them and probably will again. It is so much easier to baste the label on before sewing the binding to the back. I like hand sewing but it takes so long that I aways put off attaching the label. This way it'll already be done.
{Wishing us 30 more years of friendship... on the back side of the label flap}

Sue is a thrifty gal. She keeps all gift bags, ribbon and tissue paper from presents. I am so glad because I don't like adding all that mess. I know she'll appreciate the thriftiness and simplicity of a folded up the quilt with a bow made from a strip of fabric that got trimmed when squaring up the back.

{RTG = ready to go}

If I make this quilt again, which is a good possibility since Dirty liked this one so much, I will probably swap the 4x4 block for a 9 patch. I just do not have the patience for that 4x4 block.

Next up is the July block for Snip.Sew.Send., then I plan to start a Bento Box style quilt for the bed.