Monday, April 20, 2015

Once Upon a Time Cross Stitch Completed

This cross stitch is something I have been working on for nearly a year!  Completing that last stitch was so exciting.  It really is such a great design and I can't wait to frame it and enjoy it.  The pattern can be found here.  

Pursuing cross stitch as a hobby makes me feel a little guilty because it's so time consuming, but I just pick it up in the evenings when I am too tired to do much more than watch a little Netflix with the hubby.  It's amazing what you can eventually accomplish when you are wasting time watching TV.  I am dying to start a totally new needlework project but I don't have any linen on hand for the patterns I have acquired.  For now, I plan to revisit the Dala Horse I started quite a while ago.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Aragon Bag Finished

After writing this post about my productivity things really slowed down with my sewing.  My third trimester fatigue and complications (nothing serious) increased and my kids' ability to independently play without me decreased.  Then I made the mistake of verbally marveling that we've been so healthy this past winter, so of course, a few of us are now struggling with colds.  But it's just life and I am happy to share one of my most "urgent" must-do-before-baby projects is now completed!

Allow me to introduce the Aragon bag, a pattern by Sara Lawson at SewSweetness.  I think that this is the most challenging bag I have ever made, it's making me wonder if I can now handle the famous Weekender.....

Cutting out all of the pieces took me almost three evenings.  There are over 43 pieces to cut out, all mostly hand cut (a few could be rotary cut).  I dove into my stash choosing some bargain Echino I originally bought to make Charlotte a dress, some Lucky Penny fuscia Bike Path originally intended for quilt sashing, and a Summersault raindrop print.

This bag has nine pockets! Three of the pockets have zippers.

 Here's a picture of the lining.  Binding seams within the interior was a new technique and I have to say it was NOT easy or enjoyable.  Each side took me about two hours!  I hope not to revisit that finishing method again and will confess it is not neat looking at all.  But I am okay with it because it's all inside the bag anyway.

This is my project for this month's Le Challenge, the theme word is "tradition."  Making a new diaper bag for myself with each new baby has become a tradition for me.  It's a little treat to myself.

Here's the one I made in advance of Gregory's arrival (when my photography skills were sorely lacking, sorry!):

Here's the one I made for Charlotte's arrival:

Le Challenge

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

Total stash fabric used in this post: 2.5 yards
Total stash fabric used since 1/1/15: 31.5 yards
Total stash fabric used to date: 34 yards

Friday, April 03, 2015

Finish it up Friday: Jacob's Ladder

It's finished!  My Jacob's Ladder quilt is done.  All 2,728 pieces!!!  It's easily one of my most favorite quilts I've made.  It's from a Blue Elephant Stitches tutorial found here.  I started it after finishing my Penny Sampler, actually craving a project that would challenge me more (but I still really love that quilt too!)  It's been nearly a year since I began this project and it feels so good to wrap it up before the baby and summer comes (no one wants to be hand quilting on a hot day!).

 I spent many evenings hand quilting it, a process I will admit I did get a little bored of.  I used perle cotton, four different variegated colors available from Joann's.  I don't think I am particularly good at hand quilting, even after so much practice.  I never learned to "rock the needle" and let's just say the back of the quilt is definitely not as pretty as the front.  But I am still glad I hand quilted it, I don't know how I would've machine quilted it, and the pattern seemed to call for a very traditional quilting approach.

The backing is a pretty choice from Anna Maria Horner's Innocent Crush line.  I bought a bunch of it on sale for $5 a yard at a LQS just before I finished this quilt top.  I came very close to buying fabric for the binding but finally used some Lizzy House Constellations asteric print from my stash- it was perfect and I actually had a full yard!

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

Total stash fabric used in this post: 1 yard (most of this quilt was completed in 2014, so I am just counting the binding towards the total of stash fabric used)
Total stash fabric used since 1/1/15: 30.5 yards
Total stash fabric used to date: 31.5 yards

Thursday, April 02, 2015

WIP Thursday

 In the evenings, when my husband and I take a bit of time to indulge our Netflix addiction, I have been doing lots of hand sewing.  I took a long break from this routine because I was getting lots of headaches in the evening and couldn't bear to pick up a needle and thread, even if only from the comfort of the couch.  Most of that is alleviated now that I finally updated my eyeglass prescription (not wise to put it off for 5+ years).

I did some English paper piecing and made some Hexie flowers out of leftovers from making this pillow.  These will be a fun addition to my do-your-own sample project that I am anxious to put together.

I have also been making tulips for the dyo sampler quilt, using a free pattern found here.  I made the leaves quickly with that software I blogged about here.

This week, I have also been chipping away at a new diaper bag.  It's become a tradition for me to make a new one for each baby- a little treat to myself.  I am using Sarah Lawson's Aragon bag pattern and several stash fabrics.  There were 43 pieces to cut out- including pieces from 3 different fabrics, interfacing, and the alternative to Soft and Stable- automotive headliner fabric.  Bag making almost always requires a cutting marathon.

Thanks for reading!  I will be back tomorrow with a big finish that I am very proud of!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

How do you get so much done?

Last weekend I presented a "trunk show" to the Front Range Modern Quilt Guild.  Recently, a guild friend had "outed" me to the leadership when she came over and I showed her the 40+ quilts I had in my home.  It's unusual for someone to have so many quilts in their possession, especially within a "modern" guild which is generally made up of members who are still in stages of mothering young children as well as full time work.  I really didn't mind sharing my work with the guild, it was kind of them to recognize my talents/passion.  

One thing I addressed in the presentation was the question, "How do I get so much done?"  I honestly didn't think my level of productivity was unusual until a guild member asked me a few years ago, "Do you ever sleep?"  I have just been pursuing a hobby I really enjoy and wasn't comparing my number of finishes with anyone else's.  Just this week, on instagram, a person commented on one of my projects, "I am jealous of all your time [sad face emoticon.]"  I will admit this comment got under my skin a little but I know I shouldn't take it personally.  I don't feel like I have more time than anyone else, but I know my life circumstances and priorities are very different from everyone else too.

So, how do I get so much done?

  • I have a very supportive husband who watches the children a lot when he's not working.  He really enjoys being a dad.  Once, when we lived in Massachusetts, he brought the kids to the Museum of Science on his day off and I made a very challenging bag all in one day.  I have been on three retreats within the past year, thanks to his willingness to shoulder single parenting for a few weekends.  On a regular basis, he gladly gives me a break from their demands when I need or want to attend to a sewing project.

  • I am a stay at home mom and I can fit in sewing time fairly frequently during the day.  When I just had my son, he was a champion napper and didn't give up taking two naps until he was about eighteen months.  He didn't stop napping altogether until he was way past the age of three.  Once my daughter was born, my sewing slowed down considerably but eventually I got them to take naps at the same time.  

  • Yes, sometimes I sew when my children are awake.  GASP!  Go ahead and call children's services on me if you'd like.  I think it's funny when people insist they only do anything for themselves when their kids are asleep, as if taking a few minutes for you, throughout the day is just not acceptable.  But I will admit that sometimes I have been selfish and maybe my obsession with a project has taken priority when my kids needed me more- that's something I try to pay attention to and avoid.  I really do feel strongly that kids don't need to feel like they are their parents whole universe, it's healthy for them to see you doing something for you and to know that they don't reign over the parents lives 100% of the time 24/7.  

  • I can sew when my kids are awake sometimes because my sewing areas have been in close proximity to their activities.  I sewed in my kitchen for seven years.  This picture shows that area in our MA apartment.  (The sink and countertop are to the left, the "living room area" are to the right- it was cramped, but we made it work!).  Right now, I am blessed to have a sewing room that is adjacent to the toy/tv/family room, where they play quite a lot.  I also allow my kids to come in my sewing room (second picture) when I am in there.  

  • I usually gravitate towards projects that are comfortable within my skill level.  It's true that I like an achievable challenge but there are many techniques I know I don't have the patience or time for.  I don't make queen sized quilts out of tiny paper pieced blocks.  Intricate needle turn applique holds no interest for me.  It's true that I make super sized quilts but big doesn't always equal hard.
  • I sew a lot because I LOVE it!  It's my favorite and only hobby.  I used to read tons of books and had a passion for journaling.  Now I am lucky if I read a dozen books a year and the journaling has slowed down considerably.  Perhaps my priorities are sometimes a little out of balance: we eat leftovers frequently, my house is not as clean as it should be, and I often favor sewing over exercise.  I have had a few successes with being published but I am really not in this game to make money or make a name for myself.  I love how diverse sewing and quilting are: there's always new patterns and fabrics to try and use and new skills to be acquired.  I love giving my creations to friends and family and I feel good that I have also created heirlooms for my children.  Lots of people lose their motivation (aka "sew-jo") and give up on it all for a while, that never happens to me, although frustrations do occur.  I wouldn't do it so much if it weren't so fulfilling and satisfying.  It's a cliche, but unlike housework (for example), sewn items "stays done"- completion is achievable!
Thanks for reading if you've gotten this far.  I hope it's okay to write down my thoughts now and then instead of just posting project after project.  I have been thinking about ways to make this blog more personal and personable instead of just being a record of my WIP's and finishes.  To end, here's a quote I love from a beloved Mormon leader within my church.  It sums up exactly how I feel about my hobby.

"As you take the normal opportunities of your daily live and create something of beauty and helpfulness, you improve not only the world around you but also the world within you." Dieter Uchtdorf.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Easter Dress: Addison Pattern for Modkid by Patty Young

My mom came for a visit and every time she comes, I try to do a sewing project that she can assist with.  She's not an extremely avid sewist, but she definitely has had experience and is good for helping me wrap my brain around patterns and sewing challenges.  We made my master bedroom curtains together and she helped me eke out enough of the black fabric for the maternity shirt I made.  For this visit, I got out the Addison dress pattern I've had for forever and some stash fabrics: Modern Whimsy bunnies and some Kona Pomegranate.

I prewashed the fabrics and traced out the pattern for a size 3T.  I tackled buttonholes for the first time ever (not super scary after all!).  The most difficulty I had was with the tiny sleeve cuffs- those were a killer.  

This picture shows the bow/sash in the back:

I can't wait for her to wear it to church for many Sundays.  Even though this garment was probably the most challenging garment I've ever attempted, it really wasn't too bad and I could definitely see myself making another.  She really likes it too, it definitely helps that there is a "critter" motif for the main fabric.

On a completely different note, I wanted to share a new quilting tool I invested in: software to print out my own Thangle-like HST's templates.  I really do not like making half square triangle units the traditional way: cut two squares extra big, draw a line diagonally down one square, sew two 1/4" lines on either side of that line, iron, and worst of all: lots of trimming.  I have bought Thangles numerous time (for about $7-9 per pack) and that adds up.  It's also inconvenient to wait for them in the mail or find my LQS is out of the stock of the specific size I need. I finally learned about this software that allows you to print your own templates in every conceivable size: Triangulations.  I am not sponsored by this company at all, but I thought it would be helpful to share here.  It cost about $32 with shipping but I know it's going to be worth it.  I rarely spend my sewing money on anything but fabric, but I think this was worth the investment.  Here's a link on amazon where I found mine.

Thanks for reading.  I have a BIG finish to share next week.  Have a great weekend.

Total stash fabric used in this post: 3 yards
Total stash fabric used since 1/1/15: 27.5 yards
Total stash fabric used to date: 30.5 yards

Monday, March 23, 2015

Baby Boy Quilt Finish

I finished the baby boy quilt and I am pretty pleased with it.  It's not as much of a "show stopper" as the girl quilt but I like the graphic appeal of this design and the prints I used.  Sewing together equilateral triangles was quite easy for me after having had experience with patterns like Krackle and New Wave.  As long as you line the pieces up correctly, it's no more difficult than simple patchwork squares.

Since my first two children have been "texture snobs," I have learned by experience to make baby quilts with soft backing fabrics.  My choice for this quilt is called "Gnome Pants" from Cotton and Steel.  I did straight line quilting and bound this quilt with some Happy Go Lucky dots from my stash.

Total stash fabric used in this post: 2.5 yards
Total stash fabric used since 1/1/15: 25 yards
Total stash fabric used to date: 27.5 yards

Thanks for reading!