Thursday, February 02, 2017

Lots of Quilting Projects in the Works

I apologize for the poor quality of these pictures in this post, I considered not posting at all because of my unhappiness with them but I've come to see this space as a personal record more than anything.  It's better to just write the post and continue to work on achieving better pictures rather than avoid posting.  I honestly think part of why I don't blog as much lately is because I have such a hard time taking decent pictures of my projects.  In Massachusetts, I lived in an apartment that would just light up with natural light on the sunny days- I simply stuck whatever I was working on onto my design wall (in my kitchen!) and took the photo and it would look great.  In Colorado, a state much sunnier than Massachusetts, my house is a tri-level on a hill and taking advantage of natural sunlight is much more difficult.  I know it would help if I actually learned how to use my camera properly.....

But anyway, I wanted to share the many quilty projects I've been working on.  I really want to get back to quilt making- I've missed it.  The past few years have been more about bag and dress making and I miss quilts!

Quilt alongs on IG have sucked me in: I joined the Snail-Along hosted by +Angie Wilson (GnomeAngel) and already have a scrappy Swoon quilt for the current #Swoonalong hosted by Camille Rosskelley @thimbleblossoms.  

For the snails, I started out really scrappy but I wasn't in love with doing 42 of these blocks:

I've since changed my project fabrics to an assortment of solids and Lotus Pond fabrics:

Here's my Swoon top.  I know I want to add to it.  I'm thinking eight 18" swoon blocks to add as top and bottom borders.....  It will be a little while before I get back to it though:

I'm returning from an old WIP (2014) and "forcing" myself to make two blocks a day of these 9" church dash blocks.  Now that I have at least 28 of these completed, the project is looking much more appealing.

I attended a FRMQG  meeting with a lesson on curved piecing and was provided these sample block pieces to make a flowering snowball block.  I'm not sure what I will do with this orphan block but the process gave me confidence in making this quilt someday.

I just took my machine in for cleaning and wow (!) what a difference.  Apparently my use of adhesives (spray baste, washable tape) have really been doing a number on it and hair was jamming up my foot pedal!  Yuck!  It's working so well now and I'm loving it.  A guild retreat is coming up in less than two weeks and I really can't wait.  I need a break and I am really looking forward to just sewing for a few days without interruption.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Finish it up Friday: Hello Kitty Quilt

 I completed the Hello Kitty quilt!  It's been so long since I've done a Finish it up Friday post, especially to document the completion of a quilt.  My daughter is very thrilled: she even joined me at the place I rented the longarm for the last 1.5 hours of quilting.  She really was so excited and I was too!  I didn't love having this top laying around: all those tiny squares needed securing pronto and there's no better way to do that than quilt and bind it!

I quilted it last week on a Friday and had it bound by that Sunday.  It really dwarfs Charlotte's  toddler bed and she said she's ready for a "big girl bed."  (I wouldn't mind putting her in a twin sized bed, but we don't have one, so that will have to wait.)  I contemplated keeping this finish a secret until her birthday but bringing her to the longarm place proved to be a lot of fun: she was really beside herself with happiness.

I rented a Statler Stitcher and chose a daisy pattern stitched in white thread to finish the quilt.

Most of the quilt backing is made up of some very "old" stash fabric from Erin McMorris's first-ever  fabric line, a find from Marden's from at least 7 years ago.  I bound it in the only purple fabric I had more than a half yard of: Joel Dewberry True Colors woodgrain.  The quilt measures 78 x 88.

Since moving to Colorado, in order to rent a longarm, I've taken occasional trips to Ft. Collins and stayed the weekend with my sister, renting a longarm from an official Gammill dealer.  My experience there has been okay but it's definitely not been convenient and I've been a bit underwhelmed with the customer service there.  I decided to try out renting from a lady advertising on Craigslist to use her machine in Colorado Springs.  I visited her studio before making the rental appointment, I wasn't impressed with the amount of "stuff" in her storefront: it was truly packed from front to back with consignment items and her own things.  For completing the quilt, I chose a day my husband had off and arrived on time.  The store wasn't opened; I called her.  She said she was "on her way." If I'd known it would be another half hour before she arrived, I probably wouldn't have waited but she gave me the impression that she was simply running late.  It was a freezing, snowy morning.  When she finally arrived and I asked her what had happened, she confessed that she had completely forgotten our appointment and there was "no excuse."  I was really disappointed but we proceeded to get started.  I told her how I wanted the backing to be oriented on the quilt and she did it completely wrong.  She offered to re-do it but I declined, we were already way behind schedule!  Besides a very rocky beginning, I was happy with the quilt and how it turned out.  The rental price was also extremely reasonable: it cost me just $54.  But I am honestly not sure if I want to return.  I am so used to the professionalism I had at Laurena's studio in Burlington.  This experience furthered my determination to purchase my own Gammill- now is definitely not the time of life for that kind of purchase and commitment but I am so looking forward to someday having my own machine!

Thanks for reading.  Linking up with Finish it up Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts.  Hello Kitty QAL instuctions can be found on the Sukie blog here.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Scraptastic January: Unicorn Block

Close to Christmas, I decided I wanted to make this unicorn block for my daughter.  I have always been impressed with this amazing pattern but was intimidated by the complicated look of it... but one of my mantras is, "I can do hard things!"  So I went for it and I am so glad I did.

I used only scraps to make this beauty and it worked out so well.  I separate my scraps by color but also have a completely different storage system for solid scraps that are mixed all together (it's very sophisticated: two big giant zip lock bags stuffed under my cutting table).  As you can see, I used quite a bit of both solid and print scraps.  I dug into stash for the silver asterisk fabric for the horn.

Someone on IG mentioned they might frame a complicated paper pieced block rather than make it into a mini or a pillow- which is an awesome idea I wouldn't have thought up myself!  On Christmas Eve, I drove to my nearby Michael's and grabbed the perfect 18" square white frame with a 50% off coupon.  It was a great time saver and I already knew I didn't want this block suffering the abuse that a kids pillow gets around here.

Here's Charlotte after unwrapping her gift:

The whole theme of Charlotte's Christmas seemed to be unicorns.  Oh to be four years old!

Last month I won a giveaway on the Scraptastic Tuesday linkup from Fluffy Sheep quilting and it didn't take me long to zero on these beauties from Dashwood Studio.  These fabrics are so adorable and soft!

Thanks for reading!  Linking up to Scraptastic Tuesday.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Playtime Outfit with Birch Knits from MalinisQuiltCo Etsy shop

Shortly after I moved to Colorado from Massachusetts, one of my friends from the BMQG, Hema, opened a fabric supply Etsy shop.  I was excited for her but also a little bummed about the timing: wouldn't we all love to live near an awesome modern fabric store run by a friend?  When I visited New England this summer, I made sure to visit Hema to catch up and I also took the opportunity to enjoy seeing her shop inventory in person.  

When Hema and I were participating in the guild, Hema was all about practicing free motion quilting on her domestic machine.  She really became quite skilled.  Since that time, she's also been developing her skills at garment making - she's very prolific.  The theme of her shop does lean heavily towards apparel fabric selections: lots of knits and double gauze.  She has quilting cottons too and seems to have a unique selection; including Dashwood Studio (UK based fabric company) and lots of organic selections.

Periodically, I will be featuring a product made out of fabrics available from Hema's shop.  Today's post features Birch knits: Wildland and a red solid.  I decided to use the Playtime pattern by my favorite pattern designer, Liesl Gibson- of course.  

My fabrics arrived on Christmas Eve and I promptly threw them in the wash.  I always prewash knit fabrics.  I quickly got everything cut and ready to sew and put it all together this past Sunday evening.  Previously, when I made a quick shopping trip for buttons, I picked up a "twin needle" - something I only barely knew existed.  It wasn't too hard to use and I liked the way it helped me hem the tunic.  

I'll admit that I had some challenges making this outfit, all mistakes of my own doing: I only cut out one tunic/skirt panel and panicked when I wasn't sure if I could salvage another one from my leftovers (I did but it was close), I sewed too close to the edge of the skirt which resulted in some seam-ripping, and I experienced some stretching on the hems of the sleeves that made me feel pretty frustrated.... I expect that to improve with practice!  There is definitely a learning curve when it comes to sewing knits but there are some things that are easier than working with woven fabrics.  For example, I didn't have to do basting stitches and gathering to set in the sleeves.  Winning!

As you can see, Charlotte loves the outfit and I am very happy with how it looks on her:

The leggings were a breeze- I haven't blogged this but I have made at least six pairs for her and a friend from that pattern recently.

Here's a shot of another knit selection I selected from Hema's shop: Tall Tales knit paired with more of the red solid.  I am going to take a little garment sewing break but when I'm ready, I hope to transform these fabrics into a raglan tee ala Hey June.  I LOVE the Tall Tales collection - the jackalope slays me.

Thanks for reading... Next up is lots of cutting for a Patchwork Swoon... I can't wait to start working on a big quilt for me.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 Christmas Dress and Year Wrap Up

The end of the year project that I focused on was a Christmas dress for my daughter.  It's pretty obvious that I love dressing her up and the combination of the new Liesl Gibson pattern paired with Brambleberry Ridge fabric seemed like a great idea.

I bought the book at Fancy Tiger in November when I took a break from all of my frenzied craft fair sewing and drove up to Denver with my friend Annee to meet Liesl Gibson for the book signing.  It was a really fun night and Liesl is so gracious and easy to talk to.  I'll admit I was a little star struck:

The Building Block dress book gives a basic pattern for a sweet dress that appealed to me.

I've made a dress with a Peter Pan collar before and I didn't have too much trouble:

But it was tough!  My frustration with it made me want to avoid sewing all together.  The part that gave me so much trouble was the collar.  On the dress above, the pattern "taught" me how to install a lined bodice.  With the Building Block instructions, you install a bias strip to encase everything around the neckline.  It was not easy and I did my fair share of seam ripping:

The only alterations I made to the pattern was to add handmade bias piping around the collar and I added an inch of length to the skirt on the size 5T (I'm very glad I did!).

Charlotte has loved the dress and was able to wear it many times throughout December.  I don't plan to put it away for a while, despite Christmas being behind us now.  I'll admit that the frustrations with this dress made me think about how much easier (and even cheaper!) a time I've had with Christmas dresses when I've bought off-season fancy dresses off of the Dillard's clearance rack......

I made matching plaid bow ties out of the scraps of fabric I had leftover.  The boys looked darling.  Owen looks so sad in this picture: it was well past his nap time when we took this picture.

Here's a cute picture of Gregory wearing the bow tie, I think he felt glad to be included in my apparel sewing for once but honestly I don't feel bad that I don't sew clothes for him.  He's very picky about what he wears and prefers his t-shirt and basketball shorts hands down.

Another fun thing that came to fruition in December was a feature of my thread wreath in the Australian magazine, Homespun:

This year, I made Charlotte eight dresses.  I completed five quilts.  I participated in vending at two craft shows.  I made a quilt almost completely out of scraps (Hello Kitty). I conquered my fear of sewing with knits.  I made a king size quilt for my brother.  I made lots of lovely bags.

A few weeks ago, when I was laboring over Charlotte's dress at a guild sew-in, a person made a comment  amounting to something like this, "I would never work so hard on something that would just be grown out of."  I know what she was saying but I didn't really love or appreciate the sentiment.  It feels worth it when I look at these pictures and remember the excitement she shows when I make her a new dress.  She's probably the one and only daughter I'll have and I want to relish this time when making her a dress is usually affordable (1-2 yards is enough!) and her enthusiasm for my creations is contagious:

(she can fit into this one now, I'll have to post a picture!)

Edited to add: I forgot about this Hide and Seek dress I started the night before we left for NH.  I was so stressed about taking a long flight with three young children, this project helped my anxiety calm down a little:

She wore it to Lego Land:

My husband has had a ton of time off for the holidays and my mom is coming for a visit this next week- so I've definitely been in vacation mode lately.  I haven't wanted to hide away in my sewing room while everyone's home- which is probably a good thing- although I miss it and even feel a little guilty.  But I have been cleaning up and organizing my sewing room some and thinking about my 2017 sewing goals:

  • Finish the Hello Kitty quilt.
  • Make a quilt completely from scraps.
  • Open and maintain an Etsy shop.
  • Make a quilt using some of my favorite and long-hoarded Lizzy House Constellations fabrics
  • Make a skull/Halloween quilt for Gregory
  • Finish at least 3 WIPs.
  • Make more quilts- 10 will be the goal.
  • Attend the February guild retreat.
Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Sewing Gifts Given and Received 2016

  About two weeks before Christmas, I tried to talk myself out of making any handmade presents.  I conceded by making my in-laws some patchwork dish towels and hexagon coasters (but forgot to take a picture!).  A week later, I finally admitted to myself that I just had to make something for the kids.  The compromise that I made with myself was that I didn't have to make something for the baby because he's too young to remember it and I was running out of time.

I decided to make a skull pillow for my oldest son, Gregory.  As I've said before, he loves all things Halloween, all year round.  I spotted an amazing looking skull block on Instagram and found that the pattern was from the new book by Tula Pink and Angela Walters: Quilt with Tula and Angela: A Start-to-Finish Guide to Piecing and Quilting Using Color and Shape.  I made one block out of some glow-in-the-dark fabric and black Kona, I added some borders to the block to make it 18.5" square:

I used some of the Halloween stash (also fabrics that glows) for the back to make a zippered closure:

Gregory really loved it and especially loves that it glows.  We've been talking about me making a full Sugar Skull quilt soon- but let me tell you- making quilts for your kids increases in difficulty as your children start voicing their opinions- opinions that are strong and do not budge.  He's really intent on me using this darn panel I've had for ages and nixed my idea of doing a colorful bright solids version of the quilt..........  to be continued!

I can't wait to share what I made for Charlotte, but I will save that post for the next Scraptastic link-up (I won a prize this month and I'm motivated to continue my participation with that fun blog activity!).

I was spoiled by my husband in crafty goodness for Christmas gifts.  I've wanted Blueberry Park fabrics for ages and the warm palette bundle is simply perfection.  I've also wanted Mostly Manor and my husband snatched some up during a FQS flash sale when the bundles were 50% off.  I'm going to undo the pretty bundles and sort the pieces into color order into my stash tonight.  I also scored a yard each of Tiger Lily ballerinas on white and some older Christmas Anne Kelle.

Every Christmas, I tend to get lucky and receive some awesome crafty additions to my sewing related library.  I've checked out Handmade Style at least four times from my library and even made a quilt from a pattern therein, so I am very happy to finally have my own copy.  I heard Amy Gibson speak at our guild in the fall and was dying for her "Quilt Block Cookbook."  I was able to see many of her quilts from the book in person and they're simply gorgeous.  Finally, the "By the Bundle" book is one that I like every pattern within the book- I seriously want to make them all!

Thanks for reading.  I hope you are enjoying this holiday season and finding some time to be creative.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Scraptastic Tuesday: Thanksgiving Table Runner

 Here's the truth: I think sewing so much for those craft fairs this fall burnt me out a bit.  I haven't been sewing very much lately.  I'm tired.  When I have some spare time, I have preferred to go to bed earlier, read, and watch the occasional Netflix drama.  I'll admit that I feel a little guilty for not churning out lots of sewing projects.  I will say that I am still enjoying the fruits of my craft fair spoils: I bought myself winter boots that actually fit (I've been using a pair of thrifted ones a size too large for years!) with some of my proceeds and I've been using some of my craft fair inventory as gifts to family, friends, and teachers.  It's felt so good to just rifle through all that stuff and pull out something cute and handmade that is ready to go.

So I guess this post is a little overdue, but the night before Thanksgiving, I decided to start a table runner, in hopes of finishing it in time for the next day's meal.  Nick and I reached our ten year anniversary in June, yet we've never had to cook our own Thanksgiving turkey- but this year was the year to finally do it!  Nick took charge of it and my responsibility was potatoes (we had friends over who brought other dishes too).  I didn't feel too bad focusing on this spontaneous idea/project because the meal preparation was minimal for my part.

In early November, I spotted these "Grateful" Target placemats in the Dollar Spot (they were actually $3 each).  I decided to use them as the focal points of the runner:

We have a very long table, so this runner was almost two yards long (13" wide).

I had quite a bit of Insul-brite (that batting that is supposed to be great for making pot holders) and pieced together a long piece to use as the top layer as batting (I also added another layer of thin polyester batting as well).  The thickness made it all a little tricky to sew up neatly, but I think I did okay.

I raided my orange/yellow/brown scrap bins and bags to make a scrappy patchwork front.  I've heard a lot of people often say they "hate" the color brown for quilts but I think it's underrated.  Dark chocolate brown adds such a nice contrast, it truly helps other fabrics shine.  

I'll admit that I didn't finish the runner in a super-timely manner, it was all done about twenty minutes after all of the food was ready.  I did take sewing breaks to help with the meal but seriously- you guys- my husband is just a great guy who is so supportive and really showed patience with my crazy idea to make a table runner none too soon before the big day.

Linking up to Scraptastic Tuesday.