Friday, September 23, 2016

Blogger's Quilt Festival: Fancy Fox Edition

I finished this quilt over the summer but haven't blogged it yet because it's been really difficult to find the time and opportunity to photograph this quilt.  The Blogger's Quilter Festival, hosted by Amy's Creative Side (happening right now) gave me the push to finally get a few outdoor photographs.

It was super windy yesterday, but we made the best of it:

This, of course, is the infamous "Fancy Fox" quilt, pattern by Elizabeth Hartman.  I made it twin-sized with primarily my stash of Jennifer Paganelli's Crazy Love collection as well as other fabrics by Lizzy House, Anna Maria Horner, and Tula Pink.  I used a Cloud9 solid available at Joann's for the background.

I thought it was fun to choose bright, girly fabrics for this pattern because so many people make this quilt for boys and choose limited and more subdued palettes.  I wanted to do something a little different and knew the gray background would make it all pop.

This project was begun in earnest at the February FRMQG retreat and I let it sit for a while after that.  I finished it in time to bring to Laurena's Longarm Quilting business this summer and rented a Statler Stitcher to quilt the rose pattern all over the quilt.

I decided to use some voile from my stash from the backing.  Laurena told me she would be concerned about the longevity of an apparel fabric on the back, which sent me into a minor panic, but I went with it anyway.  Very few of our quilts get constant use, so I hope we will be okay in the long term.

I did hand binding with an AMH Honor Roll print and came home to Colorado with a completed quilt.  It felt so good!  I really haven't done a lot of quilting lately and it felt great to have a WIP off of my "list."

I am entering this quilt into the "Large Quilts" category since it's approximately 304" around.  It's a generous twin sized quilt that has been nice for couch time relaxing... I am sure it will make an appearance in my daughter's room one day too.  Thanks for visiting.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Strawberry Backpack for First Day of Preschool

One more completed bag to document and then I promise, I am really going to start working on more quilts!

Over the summer, I bought the book Lovely Little Patchwork of the IG destash.  Charlotte and I squealed over the cuteness of the pattern for the "Strawberry Backpack."  I told Charlotte I would make it for her first day of preschool....

And then September 11 came (Charlotte's first day of preschool was the 12th) and it was also my husband's birthday.... and Charlotte even told me, "I can just use my Hello Kitty backpack for school, it's okay."  But one thing I try to do as a parent, is honor my promises to my kids.  I want to be dependable.  So I stayed up late that night and finished the backpack at 11:59- just before midnight!

The front of the backpack is made completely out of scraps.  (I was grateful Charlotte eventually consented to a color combination of pink and red rather than her very favorite combination: pink and purple.)

This is the back:

I did a few modifications to the bag: I quilted the front with some batting and muslin backing, I added batting to the back exterior, I added woven interfacing to the leaf piece, and I used cording found in the home dec section of Joann's rather than going with double folded bias tape as recommended.

The leaf pattern had to be copied at some odd size like 136% or something and it didn't fit the piece of fabric it was meant to be traced on very well.  It may be due to an error in copying but I must add that I always find it annoying to visit a copy place before I can even begin to start my project.  Rant over.

So here's my little cutie on her first day.  I managed to convince her to wear her 2T Cattitude rollerskate dress as a tunic- so happy I don't have to retire it yet!

She's been using the backpack consistently at preschool, I kind of expected her to jump at the chance to use her store-bought Hello Kitty one... but I am not complaining.  The strawberry backpack is not super practical but so adorable!

Linking up with Scraptastic Tuesday.

Art Student Tote for Me

I made an Art Student Tote (pattern by Anna Maria Horner) for me.  I started this as a project to do with a friend on Labor Day.  I got around to finishing it this week.  

I made a few modifications of my own: lots of interfacing within the interior and exterior bag pieces, I wrapped the strap fabric around nylon webbing instead of using interfacing, I added an interior zipper pocket, and I added a gusset with a zipper just inside of the bag.  

I've made this bag before and I really remember feeling much happier with my first version.  I'm trying to figure out what the difference is.  One thing that might improve this bag is top-stitching around the top- I didn't have the right color of coordinating thread, but will be sure to pick some up soon.  The top edge is just looking so sloppy.

Here's a picture of the back of the bag.  How I love these pretty feathers!

The interior of the bag was made from some of my AMH stash fabrics- they coordinated quite well without looking too matchy-matchy.

Admittedly, this project is leaving me feeling a bit dejected.  Maybe I am just tired, I don't know.  I just don't love it like I loved the first Art Student tote I made.  I don't understand the big difference.  I am eager to return to some quilt WIP's now- something a little more "2D" is what I am craving.

Linking up to Crazy Mom Quilts Finish it up Friday.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

New Fabric Pull

I am kind of forcing myself to work on WIPs lately- the space they are taking up is driving me a little insane.   But I recently couldn't resist a new fabric pull centered around some of my favorite colors: red and pink.  I decided to add in the dark brown to add contrast and not make it too Valentine's Day.

Now I am on the hunt for more of the dark brown "Kitty Dreams" Lizzy House Catnap fabric.  Any ideas?  Do any of you readers know of a local or online source?  And hopefully a more difficult question to answer, why is it so easy to fall in love with fabrics that are out of print and hard to find?!

During my search for this fabric, I came across an online fabric store that specializes in only selling cat fabrics.  Check it out.  You're welcome.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Improvisational Patchwork with Denyse Schmidt

Over the summer, I learned that the FRMQG and Fancy Tiger were joining together to host Denyse Schmidt for a quick visit to Colorado.  Being a little spoiled, I have had a few opportunities to interact with and learn from Denyse during my days in the BMQG.  But I never made it to Connecticut to take her infamous improvisational patchwork class.  

I am kind of a frugal/cheap person when it comes to taking sewing classes.  A lot of times, visiting instructors present on the exact material that is easily available in their recently published book; and I figure if I own the book, I have the information and don't need to pay more to take the class on the exact same material.  I also like spending my money on fabric instead of classes.  But I really am trying to place more value on experiences rather than "stuff," and I decided attending the class would be worthwhile if only being able to have fun with my friends from the guild.

Well, I am happy to report that the class was excellent and I really enjoyed the time with my friends and I even made some new friends as well.  It's so refreshing to sew together with like-minded people, as sewing can be such a solitary activity.

(photo by Kari Vojtechovsky)  

Bags of cut-up, non-designer, vintage, upcycled, and thrifted fabrics were placed in paper bags and we sewed up blocks throughout the day with minimal prompts and instructions.  The whole exercise was centered around being able to sew freely without thinking too hard.  Choosing fabrics was a component of the process that was essentially eliminated.

I'll admit that I struggled with my perception of some of the fabrics, I found a lot of them to be quite ugly.  It's also quite a departure for me to use fabrics that I don't absolutely love and even to use solids is unusual for me.  So much of my sewing is connected to my love for fabric and the fabric designers.... it was good for me to look more at the composition of a patchwork design rather than just trying to allow the fabric to do all of the work.

The last exercise of the day was dedicated to continuing the process of sewing from the paper bags of pre-cut fabric while also adding pieces of one fabric we had brought from our stash.  After almost two hours of sewing, we were able to go around the room and share what we made.

This is what I made.  The green geometric fabric was my stash contribution.  I am actually pretty happy with what I created and hope to finish it into something like a big patchwork pillow.

Somehow I got to "present" first; it was very interesting to see what my other classmates made and what one stash fabric they chose to bring and how they incorporated it.  

 (photo by Kari Vojtechovsky) 
The whole day was a bit tiring, I came home pretty exhausted.  But it was also very renewing and these are my takeaways from the class:

  • Use my yard sale/thrifted fabrics more and don't be so afraid to mix them into all sorts of projects.
  • Don't be afraid of solids.
  • Improvisational piecing provides a lovely freedom I look forward to exploring more.  It gave me a different kind of energy and excitement than simply making the same block over and over does.
  • Try to use more unexpected and less "safe" fabrics in my projects, it adds more interest.
  • Make a quilt because I like the design, start there rather than trying to decide how I can showcase some of my favorite fabrics.
  • Strive for more unexpected and unconventional color combinations
I really enjoyed my day with Denyse and the guild.  I hope to take more classes in the future.  I need to be patient though.  I do think that in my current season of life, going to classes can be difficult, as my young family needs me and family budget concerns.  In the meantime, I am going to do the best I can and take advantage of more opportunities like this.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Under the Sea Swap Continued and WIP

In the IG hosted #undertheseaswap I received a lovely tote from Barbara with a cute whale theme.  (I love whales!)  She did a really nice job with the design and structure of the bag- it's very sturdy.  Apparently her secret to great structure was using two layers of interfacing, crinoline, and cotton batting.  

Here's the back:

She did send me some awesome and generous extras but it's been almost two months since the end of the swap and they've all kind of scattered within my house.  She included fabric leftovers, a zip pouch, thread, a pair of socks, sea shells, and some adorable mermaid zipper pulls.

And just to update you on the more current state of my sewing adventures... I am making myself an Art Student Tote:

This Anna Maria Horner Field Study linen feather print was my fabric "unicorn" for a long time, when about 6 months ago, I found 1.5 yards on Etsy for a normal price.  I was so happy!  It was time for me to put it to use, and I did so yesterday (Labor Day) with a few guild friends.  I only finished the exterior, hopefully I will update soon with the lining installed and the bag complete.

My friend Wyna surprised me with this adorable and impeccably made basket as a gift for coming to her house to sew.  Shouldn't I have brought a gift?!  She's so generous and sweet and definitely one of the most talented sew-ist's I know.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Under the Sea Swap: What I Made

 Somehow, I signed up to participate in a swap this summer: Under the Sea Swap on IG.  Signing up for it was very impulsive on my part, I had recently vowed to never participate in a swap, yet a few months later, I signed up for one.  I guess I was intrigued by the talent of the swap organizer - Carla and I liked the theme.

My partner had many interests on her information sheet but the detail that struck me was that she likes the sunset color scheme of navy, aqua, dark pink, bright orange, and yellow.  It took me a while to formulate a plan, but eventually I settled on creating a pillow depicting a sunset  over water, completed mostly with English paper pieced hexagons:

I did my usual zippered backing.  This pillow fits a 18" pillow form nicely.

For extras, I made a mini quilt with a tea towel I found at a TJ Maxx.  I had thought about using the towel for the main item, but I couldn't figure out what to make without making it too simple.  These are the extras I sent:

On the next post, I will showcase what I received in return.  Linking up with Sew Cute Tuesday at Young Texan Mama.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Finished Crazy Nine Patch Lattice

Not long after my youngest was born, one of my brother's, Will, asked me if I could make him a quilt.  I was already aware that the quilts I had made for him previously were really dying.  There was a period in my late high school and early adult years when I only bought Joann's/Wal Mart fabrics, used that horrible wavy/crinkly polyester batting, and tied all my quilts with embroidery floss.  Unsurprisingly, those quilts have worn out fast.

Normally, if someone asked me to make them a quilt, I might be hesitant to agree.  It's a commitment- in time and money.  But I felt like I should do this for my brother, who's never really asked anything of me.  I already knew he appreciated the previous quilts I had made for him, so I wasn't worried that my efforts would be taken for granted.

Before the summer, I really contemplated how I could use my ever-growing stash of Moda Lush fabrics.  (Paint by Number deer, birds, flowers, etc.).  I just could never figure it out- which makes me feel impatient and frustrated because I love those fabrics and I need to use them.  Before my NH trip, I texted Will and asked him for a little direction of what he likes.  He responded that he likes the color green.

(A sampling of Moda Lush fabrics by Erin Michael.)

The day before I left for NH, I was up late cramming fabrics into a suitcase and included a bunch of stash fabrics filled with green, blue, and some yellow.  I decided that my summer project in NH would be focusing on making him that quilt.  A big part of my motivation was that if I finished it in time, I would be able to give it to him in person and see his reaction.  Sending quilty gifts is fine (well, except for my fear of losing something handmade and irreplaceable in the mail!) but it's so much better to see loved one's in-person reactions!

So I don't have any progress photos, this post just has details of the finished quilt.  I pretty much only worked on this quilt late at night after my kids were in bed in July and August.  I'll admit that I kind of had to force myself, sometimes, to make progress on it, because the days were long and tiring and I often did not feel like sewing.  I was essentially a single parent and it was exhausting.

I decided to make a giant crazy nine patch lattice, a pattern that used to be on Elizabeth Hartman's blog (in lap size- I super-sized it for my tall brother):

It measured 98 x 110 approximately.  I trimmed down the patchwork blocks to 7" with this handy ruler my mom had in her stash of sewing supplies.  I used up lots of scraps and stash with this project.  The color combination of my prints is probably not my most favorite color scheme I have ever done and I ran into a real problem when I tried to pair my crazy nine-patches with this Lizzy House dark green starry print.  That print is SO dark green and did not go well with the 174 patchwork blocks I had already assembled- I nearly had a meltdown!  I finally decided to visit a LQS (Bits 'N Pieces) and bought some Kona Bluegrass to be the background fabric for my quilt.

I was able to rent some time at my favorite place: Laurena's Longarm Quilting and had a great day there.  I used the Statler Stitcher and chose a pattern called "Diagonal Plaid."  I chose a green variegated thread for the quilting.

For the backing, it was tempting to order this Notting Hill print from the clearance section of Hawthorne Threads.  But I would've needed at least 8.5 yards and had already blown my fabric budget for the summer.  I decided to use what I had on hand including some steals from Marden's and a LQS in North Conway, a chunk of fabric from my mom's stash, and scraps from making the quilt top:

My brother was surprised to receive the quilt and he was happy and obliging to help me take some photos.  I let his adorable girlfriend in on the secret before giving him the quilt and she was very excited for him and attested to how worn out his other quilts had become.

It was an interesting experience to have to put this quilt together at my mom's house with only the materials I had pre-packed.  There were many times when I wanted to give up and just work on it back in Colorado later or even just give him one of my queen sized quilts from my stash of finished quilts.  I think it was good for me to just keep working on it and have a tangible sewing goal for the summer,  Being back home among family and friends was definitely an emotional rollercoaster and I think it was healthy for me to have a sewing project that helped ground me and my crazy feelings.

I have to be honest, I am not extremely proud of the color/fabric choices of this quilt but I am glad I pressed on and focused on "finished is better than perfect."  I am not trying to say that I gave Will something I hated or wasn't completely proud of - I do wish I had picked a background color/fabric that harmonized better with the quilt blocks and just had a better vision for the end project from the beginning.  Instead, I just started sewing and figured it out as I went and didn't end up loving the end result.  It was also difficult to press on without access to my stash, books, and tools.  I think if I hadn't had the deadline of trying to give it to him this summer, the hope of finishing a quilt for him may very well have dragged on for another few years.  I know he's happy to have it and isn't as concerned about my artistic goals and aspirations.  He wanted a quilt and he likes green, there's no need to beat myself up about not creating some kind of amazing masterpiece.  Like for the backing, it would've been silly of me to spend $70 on a perfectly coordinated fabric- using what I had worked just as well and was just as appreciated.

Thanks for reading: sometimes I see this blog as a bit of an online journal and writing this all out helps me complete the experience of a project by processing all of the highs and lows as well as my feelings on the experience of making.

Linking up to Sew Cute Tuesday.