Monday, April 25, 2016

WIP Update

I finished the 80th and final fox block last week.  Happy day!  

Now I am sewing them all together in columns.  I think today I will be able to start inserting the sashing, I hope I will have a completed top to share by the end of the week.  I am enjoying seeing this come together.

My interest in sewing clothes for myself is increasing and I want to start by making a simple knit t-shirt.  I decided to work my way up to that somewhat scary goal by making a knit dress for Charlotte with knit purchased from Joanns:

I actually really like this print and the quality seems decent, it just seemed like a good idea to use materials that are locally available and affordable to try something new before I dig more into my *very* small designer knit stash that I purchased around the holidays.

So this dress really was an easy sew but I made it very hard on myself when I didn't carefully and correctly transfer the dots on the patterns that were meant to aid the placement of the interior pockets.  It was hours of seam ripping folks.  Besides that idiotic mistake, sewing this dress was a pleasant experience.  Unfortunately, the dress is way too big as a 5T on my daughter: a risk I knew I was taking but I didn't want to invest in the smaller size range of the pattern yet.  When Charlotte grows more, I will post a picture of her wearing this.  Right now it just looks like a too-long nightgown.

After the dress was made, there was exactly enough material to eke out a pair of leggings.  Charlotte loves this outfit, as you can probably tell from this picture.  She's also getting a kick out of seeing herself in the mirror.  She cracks me up.

So I am getting closer to bravely cutting up this Lizzy House Catnap knit to make myself a shirt. (I love this print so hard!  I hope I can score some on sale soon to make Charlotte at least a pair of leggings.) This is the pattern I have but I am not sure if I'm convinced it's the best pattern for how I want my shirt to look.  I am considering the Grainline Studio Lark Tee and the Liesl and Co Metro T patterns as well.  Do you have any suggestions?

On a personal note: this little guy just passed his 11 month mark, we're only a few weeks away from his first birthday.  He is a good sleeper and eater (thanks to 8 teeth!) and is getting into everything.  Our family is just one month away from our family vacation in New England.  My husband and I are going to celebrate our ten year anniversary and he'll have to return to Colorado (after two weeks) while we spend eight more weeks with my parents in New Hampshire.  I am excited and nervous all at the same time.  Right now, I feel like my to-do list is just growing and so I guess I need to end this blog post and get to work.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Finish: Heart Quilt

I have a quilt finish to share!  I made the top in January in anticipation of a baby shower and soon changed my mind about giving it away (making another quilt instead).  This top hung in my front living room for quite a while and then finally ended up alternating between the back of my chair or the ironing board in my sewing room: moving it out of my way constantly was definitely annoying!  So even though I had been considering making it bigger and adding to it (my running joke was that I would add the term "unconditional positive regard" to it and make it massive) I decided to quilt it up and finish it.

I used my walking foot and used the seam lines as a guide to do an approximate 1/4" grid with grey thread.

I used pretty, coordinating fabrics from my stash for the backing:

I knew that the Tula Pink Eden Mosaic in Magenta fabric would be perfect for binding.  I love this fabric so much!

I am thinking I will list this quilt in an Etsy shop like I've talked about opening (someday).  Alternatively, if I have a special friend have a baby girl, it will be ready.  This quilt was made from scraps and stash; I'm linking up with Scraptastic Tuesday at She Can Quilt and Finish it up Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts.

Le Challenge: Fine

 For as long as I have been sewing, I've used a magnetic pincushion.  It broke around Christmas time and I couldn't find a replacement (I'll admit I didn't look very hard).  I started using the one and only handmade pincushion I have: this apple pincushion (pattern by Sandi Henderson).

I'm late to the game but I finally realized that the magnetic pincushions aren't necessarily superior to handmade pincushions.  I thought it was great that I could just "throw" the pins onto the magnet and not worry about it.  But this often led to pins on the floor and other undesirable landing spots.  And it broke- which is definitely not something that would happen to something like this cute apple:

For this month's theme, "fine" at Le Challenge, I decided to make a pocket pincushion.  The pattern comes from Heidi Staple's Sew Organized for the Busy Girl.  Handmade pincushions are just as "fine," if not better than, the magnetic pincushion I have been so loyal to.

For this project, I dug into my Liberty Lifestyle scraps as well as a F8 of Mochi Linen Dot in Sand.  I never know what to do with F8's but this was a perfect project for them!

Yesterday we had a major spring snowstorm in Colorado and all of my fun weekend plans were cancelled.  It was a bummer but my husband and I took advantage of being forced to stay home and we did a major spring cleaning.  Our house has never looked so good.  I didn't realize how bad it had gotten until we made it look so good!  A side benefit of our day was that I found these cute scissors that fit perfectly into this pocket pincushion and even match my fabrics!

Thanks for reading.  I also finished a longstanding WIP last night and will share that next.

Le Challenge

Friday, April 15, 2016

Bubbles, Ice Cream, and Playtime

 I love Oliver and S patterns, I am sure that's obvious by now.  Within the past week I made clothing items from three of their patterns.

Here's the bubble dress in size 5T:

I used some pretty Joel Dewberry Atrium fabrics.  This was a very fun sew.  I do enjoy dress patterns with sleeves that aren't the traditional "set in sleeves" that sometimes are tedious to assemble.

Next up is the ice cream dress.  I've made this dress before but my daughter has since grown out of the ones I had made.

 Isn't this bear/forest print adorable!?  I would've preferred to pair it with a pink solid but I have so much Kona "Rich Red" in my stash for some reason, so I opted for using what I have.

I ommitted the front pockets that are supposed to go on the front of the dress, the print is just too busy and I didn't want to break it up.

I finally mustered up the courage to try sewing with knit and made Charlotte some Playtime leggings.  It was a fun experience and they came out really nice.  Charlotte said she wanted to "wear these pants everyday"- which is a great compliment from a four year-old.

The 5T sizing is a little big on her, I am considering investing in the smaller size range of the pattern.

Having a daughter to sew for is such a joy!  I am really enjoying it.  I have to admit that I feel a little guilty about making her so many clothes.  I think it's because making a quilt feels like I am making an heirloom that can be enjoyed for many years to come, by many people.  I am not sure what will become of these clothes that she will (all too fast) grow out of.  But I do get such a kick out of her excited reactions to the items I make her and I think it's fun to watch a favorite fabric print "walk around."  I also have to say that a lot of the clothes available in stores are not as cute and child-like as the ones I can make her.  Sewing for her is easy, compared to sewing for myself, because I don't have to worry about things like a bust adjustment and the patterns I like aren't super fitted, requiring scary things like invisible zippers.

I do think Gregory gets a little jealous that I make his sister so many things but I honestly have no interest in sewing clothes for him.  He's very picky about what he wears and is perfectly content with wearing super hero t-shirts and basketball shorts.  I try to give him attention and care in other ways.  I'll admit that when I had Owen almost a year ago, I wanted to have a girl simply because I love sewing for Charlotte so much.  It's all good though!  I love my family and this hobby of mine that is very versatile and rewarding.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Late Night Thoughts

I have something big on my mind: I am pondering the idea of opening an Etsy shop to sell handmade items.  Makers like me often get told by well-meaning people that we should sell the stuff we create.  I take it as a compliment but rarely consider it seriously.  There's just too much other stuff to do, the end goal of our making is not to earn money (the rewards are many and rarely financial), and it's overwhelming to think about finding the time to have a handmade business.  

Here's why I am considering selling handmade items:
  • I am interested in earning some money to help pay for the expenses of my pricey hobby.
    • I've really been trying to scale back my fabric purchases and work from stash but I still have to buy thread, batting, etc.   
    • I am a stay at home mom of three kids, ages six and under.  There are not a lot of money making opportunities in my world right now.  A lot of moms sell things like (e.g. Mary Kay) but I am not a saleswoman.  Another friend nannies another child full-time; my hands are full enough with my own children right now.  
    • I realize I'm definitely talking about a first world problem here- I don't mean to whine.  
  • I would love to be able to put some money aside to pay for my biggest dream: owning a computerized Gammill longarm (I've literally had two recent dreams where I owned one and I was sad to wake up to realize it wasn't true).  
  • I really like making small items right now: bags, zip pouches, kitchen items.  When I give them as gifts, they are usually appreciated- but all too often, some recipients just don't care.  
  • Participating in swaps is a good reason to make smaller items but I received absolutely nothing handmade in my last swap and it was such a negative experience.  I don't see myself participating in any swaps again any time soon.

(I recently made another 241 tote and donated it as a door prize for my an upcoming MOPS event).

I have to admit that opening up a handmade shop makes me feel a little fearful.  I am afraid no one will buy what I make.  I am timid to set prices that will make this a worthwhile endeavor.  I am worried that time given to a business would erase any hope of doing my own personal projects.  I don't want to turn my fun hobby/passion into drudgery by turning it into a business.  For the most part, I've been very content to be a simple hobbyist when it comes to sewing.  

(I've been having too much fun with the linens aisle at TJ Maxx.  These towels destined to be re-purposed!) 

A personal note about a past life decision based on fear and feeling inadequate: One of the biggest regrets I have about my young adult life is that I chose an undergraduate major based on my belief that I should choose the easiest path to achieve the highest grades.  I was worried about having the best resume for graduate school.  I wish that I had had more confidence in myself to work at something more challenging.

Am I really the kind of person that shrinks back from a difficult task?  I could talk about other instances in my past when I've accomplished challenging things.  I don't want to shy away from this handmade business idea just because it would be "hard."  

 (I am obsessed with this newer Riley Blake fabric line: Vintage Kitchen but the only store that carries the whole range is and I hate them!)

So what do you think?  Is it worth it to sell handmade items?  Do you know of other makers who've had success with this?  How do you afford the supplies for your sewing?

(Lately I've become obsessed with stationary.  A local Hallmark store just went out of business and I went a little crazy.)

I'm going to contemplate this handmade business idea for a little while longer.  I want to finish up some WIPs and do a project I've been gearing up for: organizing my patterns that are scattered throughout my sewing room.  There are lots of book resources on the subject of handmade businesses and maybe I will give some of them a try in the meantime.  I'll keep you updated!

Monday, March 21, 2016

Guild Lecture and Class on Bag Making

Over the past few months, I've become more involved in attending the Front Range Modern Quilt Guild (FRMQG) meetings.  I took a long break after having my baby last May but I am so glad I've come back to the guild and have made it more of a priority now.  

I offered to teach a little presentation on bag making to the guild this past Saturday.  I gathered all of my bags to use as visuals for my little talk.  Everyone really thought I had a lot of bags and I guess I do.  I don't think it's excessive if you consider I've been making bags for a long time and I use them frequently.  I also give a lot of bags away as gifts.  

In my presentation, the bulk of my talk was focused on the different types of interfacing available.  I even brought samples to pass around and they were parceled out as a giveaway at the end.  I talked about my favorite bag pattern designers, recommended fabrics, and lots of "tips and tricks."  I received a lot of positive feedback at the end of the meeting, which made me feel good.

After the lecture, I taught a bag making class to eight ladies (not all pictured).  The pattern we worked on was the 241 tote.  It was a really fun afternoon.  Everyone either finished or made a lot of progress.  They all had different skill levels with sewing and bag making, so everyone went at a different pace.  This seemed to work out okay, it might have been more difficult if the group were a lot larger.

One class member, Leslie, nearly finished this beauty.  She quilted the tiger fabric, made her own piping, and she had extra hardware.  She definitely could have taught the class!  Isn't it gorgeous?!

I spent a lot of time preparing for the lecture and the class.  Right now I feel a little relieved to have it all done and I am excited to re-focus on my own projects cluttering my sewing room.

(Sorry for the crummy iphone pictures, I didn't remember my "real" camera in all the rush of bringing so many other extra things to the meeting!).

Friday, March 18, 2016

Finish it up Friday: Vintage Kitchen Projects

 Sometimes I "save money" by making gifts instead of buying them at the store.  It's often rewarding and fun to make something special for someone special.  That being said, I don't really save a lot of money if you consider what I've already spent on fabric and other supplies and I definitely don't save time.  For my sister's recent birthday, I really was willing to buy something off of her list and call it done.  But that plan was foiled when I learned that my mom had already gotten her everything from her birthday list.  (We are definitely "list people" when it comes to giving gifts in my family).

In the past, I've made her a quilt, a tote bag, and a few zip bags.  I knew it was time to do something different.  I have a precious little bundle of Vintage Kitchen fabric that I adore.  (This collection is adorable and it felt refreshing to have something in my stash besides the typical AMH, Tula Pink, Lizzy House, etc.)  I started with a large hot pad made with VF and lots of scraps.  We have one of these (made by a friend in a long ago BMQG swap) and use it pretty much every evening.  This measures 16":

With the large one being so busy, I decided to do one-fabric hot pads, measuring 8":

 I bought an inexpensive pack of dish towels at TJ Maxx and sewed some patchwork square strips along the ends.  It's a great scrappy project, tutorial found at Crazy Mom Quilts.

Here's a picture of it all together, along with some fun items from the housewares section at TJ Maxx.  Ok, so I guess I still went shopping!  

Linking to Finish it up Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts.

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Scraptastic Wednesday: Purple Projects

I just can't stay away from "quick" projects.  I really want to work on my ongoing quilt projects, but somehow I can't stop myself from making a pillow, a zip pouch, or a dress when the opportunity arises.  

A friend of mine has been in the academic trenches of PhD "comps."  She has been studying for months and had three full days of written testing ahead of her.  This all finally ended on Tuesday and I arranged for this little handmade surprise to reward her at the end of it all.  Her favorite color is "radiant orchid" and I got to work with some scraps, some stash, and a bit of Essex Linen in Putty.  The pattern is from Pillow Pop.

A zippered back with one of my favorite purple-ish fabrics:

Speaking of purple and scraps, I finally made my first Hello Kitty block for the pixelated quilt pattern.  I sewed very carefully and worked to get all the points to match.  It really feels so gratifying to sew with scraps: the little pieces remind me of previous projects and it feels good to be putting them to use:

Linking up to Scraptastic Tuesday:

Scraptastic Tuesday