Thursday, September 17, 2015

Tula Pink at Fancy Tiger

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of activity for me.  I am trying to catching up on things, including blogging!  So please excuse my tardiness, but I must talk about Tula Pink's visit to Fancy Tiger Crafts on September 4.  I drove a carpool of friends to Denver and had an amazing time!  I even made the effort to bring my real camera, but totally spaced it and only took two poor iphone photos.  I was so distracted by the gorgeous fabrics in the store as well as many friends in attendance, taking pictures wasn't my first priority.  

Tula's presentation was just awesome.  There are so many talented fabric designers I've had the pleasure of hearing from, but not all of them are decent public speakers.  Tula is talented in both areas!  She was hilarious and so fun to listen to.  She spent a lot of time explaining her design process for the Elizabeth collection and it really helped me understand how detailed and thoughtful her fabric design process is.  Everything she does is thoughtful and has purpose.  

I met up with one of my most "favorite people in Colorado," Cassie, who lives in Ft. Collins (too far!).  Here's a goofy selfie of us in front of the Eden butterfly quilt:

I really love the new collection, Eden, the pixelated tigers are to die for!

If I had an unlimited budget, I could easily drop $500 at Fancy Tiger.  They always have the newest fabrics and I want everything!  My souvenir fabrics from that night were these bargain one yard cuts of Tula Pink fabrics for $5 each shown below.  I bought two yards of the horses (far right) and hope to see if my daughter will consent to a dress made out of them (she can be very picky).  

The morning after Tula, I got up very early with my family to see the annual balloon launch downtown.  This is one of my favorite events in the city.  There were much cooler balloons than the stupid Pepsi one, but oh well.  We got there just as the Darth Vader and Yoda ones were ascending.

We finally had Owen's baby blessing when my parents were in town and it was so nice.  I am really, really enjoying Owen because he's sleeping through the night without any major hassle on my part.  It's been amazing.  He's such a good baby and I don't know if I can take any credit for it but I am receiving it with a grateful heart, especially when my childbirth recovery had been so miserable!

Well, blogging and looking at my pretty new fabric really makes me want to go sew!  Too bad I have a morning meeting today but I will get to it asap.  Finishing the nearly year long Weekender WIP has really lit a fire under me to keep completing things and finding time to sew now and then, even though things are so busy with taking care of my three young kids.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Le Challenge: Wilderness Weekender

Phew!  I am ridiculously proud of myself for completing this bag.  Actually, instead of calling it a bag, it really should be called "luggage."  With an Amy Butler pattern, there should be no surprise that this thing is HUGE.  I've seen them in person before, but when I finally made my own, it finally became clear how big the Weekender pattern really is.

I chose fabrics for this project 44 weeks ago and let it sit for a long time.  Later, post-baby, I goofed on some fabric/color choices and my project took a whole different direction.  The fabrics I did end up using include: Echino Decoro prints (some stash favorites long overdue to be used!), Moda Mochi Linen Dot, and Canvas Duck Cloth from Joanns.  

Unfortunately, the deer got totally covered by the straps on this side of the bag:

I made a point to get the deer wearing red glasses on both side pockets:

This bag was a popular project in a few years ago.  By being late to the party, I had the advantage of being able to review several blogger's "tips and tricks" posts.  I'd like to contribute my thoughts on how to make this bag an easier sewing experience:

  • The instructions ask you to attach peltex to nearly every piece of the bag to provide stability.  For many sewers, this has resulted in a thinner wallet, broken needles, and many unfinished weekenders.  Stability and structure can be achieved without the peltex.  
  • Make the bag pieces with a layer of canvas, batting scraps, and your chosen exterior fabric, ala this method.  Make your pieces a little bigger than the finished pattern piece size because distortion will happen with the quilting. 
  • Don't skip the piping.  I've seen a few weekenders without it and you just don't get that handmade/polished look.
  • Yes, installing and dealing with the piping is a pain in the butt.  Make it easier on yourself by buying the piping if possible.  
  • Sew the piping onto the exterior pieces with a thread that matches the piping but contrasts with the canvas interior layer (thus, choose your canvas or duck cloth color with care).  By doing this, you will have any easy guide to follow when you are assembling the bag all together, as you'd like to sew very close to the piping to make it pop along the seams of the bag and you can just parallel, very closely, the thread line that attached the piping to the exterior.
  • It's one extra step, but next time, I am going to sew the raw edge of the piping to the exterior pieces, after the piping has been attached the traditional way.  When I assembled the bag, the piping would get bunched up and pop through seams many times.  This was NOT fun to seam rip and fix multiple times, this could have been avoided if all parts of the piping were firmly attached to the bag.
  •  The directions instruct you to pin the zipper to the bag gusset and sew it from the exterior on top.  Instead, I used 1/4" washable tape to attach my zipper to the gusset and sewed directly on the zipper (wrong side up) and it came out really nice.  I felt like it was too much guesswork to rely on pins and sewing on the top of the panels, hoping to precisely catch the zipper without seeing it.  
  • I increased the strap dimensions significantly.  I worked with a scrap piece of fabric to see what I thought would work for me before I cut into the duck cloth.  I also put a thick scrap piece of batting in each scrap to help with cushioning.  I love this pattern but I think the skinny straps are silly for such a big bag that is meant to carry a lot. 

A big thanks to Le Challenge, whose theme this month is "wilderness."  This was just the motivation I needed to finish up this nearly year-long project.  Can you get more wild than non-domestic animals posing in picture frames and wearing glasses?  I think not.

Le Challenge

Total stash fabric used in this post: 3.5 yard
Total stash fabric used since 1/1/15: 77 yards
Total stash fabric used to date: 80.5 yards

Also linking up to Finish it up Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

WIP Wednesday: New and Old WIPS

Lately, my main sewing focus has been the Weekender bag.  I came to peace with my color mistakes and am pursuing this fabric/color scheme shown below.  I've been a bit bored with all of the straight line quilting but glad I am not going the route of peltex, as the pattern calls for.  Just need to make the straps and add piping before I assemble.  

I am also forcing myself to put together my DYO Sampler.  It's been on my design wall since at least January- I told myself it couldn't come down until it was put together and I've stuck to that!  I started it in May 2014.  This is my highly sophisticated diagram of how I plan to put things together.  I am also waiting (in vain?) for a chunk of time to receive help from my husband in figuring out all of the math to make this work.  Nick has had forced overtime for weeks now and our time together, especially without kids, is quite limited.

I finished cutting the squares for a king sized color dive quilt:

I've also added to my modest pile of City Weekend churn dash blocks:

Even though I am trying to focus on current projects, I couldn't help but invest in some fabric for a future project that I am really excited about: a "Swoon Sixteen Twenty" using my most favorite range of all time: Bloomsbury Gardens for Liberty Lifestyle.  My LQS issued a 31% off one item and I bought 8.5 yards of "Modern Background Paper White on Fog Pindot" by Moda.  My summer birthday money was really burning a hole in my pocket since I received it, but I think my choice was wise.  It's so easy to grab a bundle here and there that equate to completing new project after new project.  Sometimes I have to force myself to buy supplies that will work with what I already have and help me use up some of my favorites.

Linking up to WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Scrap Happy Sewing: Craft Tote Pattern

 This week my son started kindergarten and my husband began his first (of many) work weeks of forced overtime.  I've needed sewing as therapy desperately!

I turned to Scrap Happy Sewing (by Kim Kurzich) again and made this "Craft Tote."  I don't work with scraps as often as I'd like and I was curious what kind of "look" I could create with pinks, greens, yellows, and blues from my scrap bins.  I altered the pattern slightly in making the straps and bottom linen rectangles a bit wider than what the pattern called for.  This is my favorite side:

Somehow, this side (picture below) ended up with a lot more yellows and it's not as balanced.  Good to remember to watch that for next time.

Before I sewed up the lining, I took this picture to show this fun combination of prints inside the bag.  That bird/floral print was one of the first "modern" fabric prints I bought several years ago.  The house print isn't from the same fabric line but they go together so perfectly.  I love it when that happens.  Aren't bag linings a good way to use fun multi-colored fabrics that might be hard to use otherwise?

I love making bags so much and have decided to stash such projects for future birthday or Christmas gifts since I already have so many for myself.  It feels good to be ahead of schedule with gift giving!

Linking up with Finish it up Friday and Super Online Sewing Community Match at Sew Mama Sew.

Total stash fabric used in this post: 1 yard
Total stash fabric used since 1/1/15: 76 yards
Total stash fabric used to date: 77 yards

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

WIP Wednesday: Ongoing Projects

I have three pre-baby WIPS haunting me, one of them is the Weekender bag.  I recently completed this paper pieced section for one of the large outside pockets:

to be placed on the outside of this quilted main panel:

But when I put the two together, I didn't like how they looked at all.  The problem is that the deer fabric is printed on a very brown linen, and I chose bright white prints for the patchwork piece.  Normally I try not to fret too much about white and off-white going together, but this bugs me too much!

This whole Weekender debacle has made me feel like I am making a lot of creative mistakes and not catching a lot of simple problems that could be avoided with more care.  I have also been thinking that I am definitely motivated to sew, but I am having a hard time coming up with projects and fabric combinations that I am really excited about.  I think my mental block is definitely related to sleep deprivation/interruption and having so little time to sew lately.

I came across a blog post, from Gnome Angel, recently with this quote, "Life is too short to make things that make you unhappy. I would rather not deliver on something then take the time away from my family to make something that’s sub par. Life’s too short for bad quilts!"  

I completely agree with Angie.  I don't need to put so much pressure on myself.  I don't have to create a masterpiece with everything I make.  So I am going to give myself a break and just work on some simple projects.  Projects with patterns.  If I follow a designer's fabric print/color suggestions, it's okay, I don't always have to reinvent the wheel every time.  I almost always try to throw in my own twist on projects, but if I want to make an exact duplicate of something from a book or tutorial, so be it.

Over the weekend, I had a bunch of sewing friends over to work on projects together.  I only had the baby to look after, so it felt like a vacation!  I spent my time visiting and cutting up squares for the Color Dive quilt.  This is exactly the kind of "easy" "no brainer" project I need: charm squares and half square triangles made out of Anna Maria Horner fabrics.  It's simple and I know I will still be happy with it because I love her fabrics and the pattern.

I also finally cracked open my City Weekend bundle I've hoarded for years.  I usually don't love pastel fabrics but this collection has been one of my long time favorites.  I am pairing it with blenders from my stash to make 9" churn dash blocks.  It's another simple project that will hopefully result in a pleasing vintage style quilt.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Scraptastic Tuesday: A Few Projects in the Works

Like a lot of quilters, I have a lot of scraps.  I enjoy working with them but don't do so often enough.  Here's a few recent projects I've been working on:

Apple potholders, a pattern from the book Scrap Happy Sewing.  I love how they came out.  The insulated batting shifted a lot within the project, but that was the only trouble I had in making these:

I had the perfect backing fabric:

This is the last project I completed recently in completing the decorating of my sewing room.  The mat and frame came from a yard sale and I spray painted the mat bright pink.  The mat was originally a dark, dusty blue.  Sorry about the poor picture- it was difficult to photograph.

To fill in the letters, I simply glued scraps of my favorite sewing themed collection, Sew Yummy, to the back of the mat.

Over the weekend I started working on another scrappy project, more details (and hopefully a finish) coming later this week:

 Linking up to Scraptastic Tuesday at She Can Quilt:

Scraptastic Tuesday

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Pajama Softie Bears: Scrap Happy Sewing

I have been eyeing the "Pajama Softie Bear" pattern for months and finally got my hands on a copy of Kim Kruzich's Scrap Happy Sewing for my birthday.  There are lots of cute patterns in the book (today I will finish up a second project from its pages) but I would've bought the book if only for the cute bears!  My regular readers all know I love peg bears and this is right up my alley.

So I made three bears, one for each of my kids.  I really just wanted one for the baby, but of course, I ended up making one for each of my older children.  They appreciate them, which is good, because I don't really love "assembly line sewing," aka, making several of the same thing over and over.  (If I had a dollar for every time someone encouraged me to do a "craft show" or "open an Etsy shop."  I know they mean well, but no, thank you).  But I'm getting off topic.....

This pattern is cute because it has several sweet details.  My oldest son insisted I didn't add a collar, buttons, or the adorable "butt flap."  But the other two bears got the full works:

Here's my crew with their softies.  Pretty sweet shot that was made in haste, as the baby was nearly overdue for his morning nap.  Got to love my daughter and her mismatched outfit and shoes.

Linking up to Finish it up Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts.