Friday, February 12, 2016

241 Tote for Me

The most recent theme for Le-Challenge is the word "round."  It was an easy decision to make myself a 241 tote after having had so much fun making a few for gifts at Christmas.

I had fun pulling fabrics from my stash: an Echino remnant from making this bag ages ago, a scrap from making this quilt, brown bees on pink, and a Japanese Cinderella print.  

For this bag, I used a rectangle ring on just one side of the bag and I like the look much better than having a ring on both sides.

Here's a better picture of that adorable Cinderella fabric. My three year old daughter LOVES the character and it was fun to use this fabric.

Sewing the curved seams of this bag is not difficult at all.  You've just got to take it slowly and remember to clip the seam after you've sewn it.  I have been sewing curves in bags for several years now and I have found that doing so has prepared me for sewing curves in garments.  It's great when skills learned become part of one's "toolbox."

Linking up to Le Challenge, Finish it up Friday, and Scraptastic Tuesday.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

WIP Wednesday: Kitchen Window Quilt Top

This top came together fast!  I've had these Ann Kelle princess fabrics for a while and I wasn't sure how to showcase them.  I was very close to making a "giant star" quilt but grabbed some of my quilting books to look for other ideas before I started to cut.  I soon came upon the "Kitchen Window" pattern from Elizabeth Hartman's The Practical Guide to Patchwork: New Basics for the Modern Quilt Maker.  

This pattern was so easy and so effectively showcases large scale prints without having to resort to simple (boring) patchwork.

All of these fabrics came from my stash except for the black sprinkle print from Cotton and Steel.  I bought that at a LQS and it goes great with the black on white pin-dot I used for sashing.

I definitely feel comfortable quilting this on my domestic machine but I hope I can have the energy to tackle it at night, after my daughter is in bed.  I've managed to keep this project a secret from her so far.....

Linking up to WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

WIP Thursday: New Projects in Progress

Amidst all the little-girl dress sewing, I have been dabbling in several quilt projects.  This week, I cut almost all of the pieces for a "Windowpane quilt."  My daughter's fourth birthday is coming up and I've had these princess fabrics since July (I even spent my own birthday money on them!) and its time they finally became something.  

The Liberty Lifestyle fabrics from the Bloomsbury range are my all-time favorite fabric collection.  I made an X-Plus quilt with them a few years ago but I want to revisit these fabrics again and have quite a bit left.  I am endeavoring to make another quilt in the Swoon pattern- this time with 16" blocks instead of 24".  I am having trouble committing to either a 2 or 3 fabric pattern.... I made the block on the left and now I can't decide if I should continue with three colors or start fresh with just a LL fabric and one other stash fabric.... (as shown in the second picture in this project).

I realize the red version of the block is more striking and vibrant but the green one is beautiful in its simplicity and I'm a little worried about figuring out 14 more fabric combinations (with a three fabric scheme) that will work well with this pattern and these fabrics.........  Any thoughts or advice would be appreciated.

A while ago I cut everything to make a girls version of my Circle Circus quilt.  I am proud of myself for having it all cut, so the next step is appliqueing all of the circles onto the squares.  I may save this project for the summer when I go to New England for several weeks since it's ready to go and would be easy to take with me.

I've made a start on the pattern in the book "The New Hexagon."  Three of the fifty hexagons completed.  I've tried glue basting for this and the jury is still out for me regarding that technique.....

This last project is not for a quilt, but for another Weekender bag.  I love my first version but really wanted to make one that was more scrappy/patchwork-ish.  I am in love with warm colors these days and I am pretty excited about this!  I have set aside the other hexagons to work quickly at making a big scrappy hexagon panel for one side of the bag in a gold/pink/plum color scheme.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Apple Picking Dress

 As a little treat to myself, I made another dress quickly after finishing the Betty Lou Dress.  Oliver and S patterns are so personally valuable to me: they've taught me how to sew little girl's dresses.  If I had started out with other patterns that weren't so well written, I don't think I'd have this obsession.  I love the process of learning one of their new patterns and moving along through every step.  When I work on a new-to-me pattern, the process has the excitement of putting together a fun puzzle.

I received the Apple Picking Dress pattern for Christmas and quickly made a size 5 of "View A" out of a Cotton + Steel Lucky Strike fabric.

I wasn't sure if I'd love the style of this dress but now I am smitten.  It's so classic and sweet.  My fabric choice made it seem especially retro, in a good way.

This dress has the potential to have a totally different look with different buttons.  I am wondering if I should have chosen something that would've contrasted with the fabric more but I am okay with my choice too.  Sometimes making the decision is easy when I think about having to make yet another trip to Joanns.

Total stash fabric used in this post: 2 yards
Total stash fabric used since Januar 1, 2016: 5.5 yards
Total stash used to date: 7.5 yards

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Betty Lou Dress

Here's another dress I made for my daughter this week.  Shocker.  I know.  All of my blog readers that are strictly quilters may be gone by now.  Of course, interests, time demands, and needs change.

I bought this pattern, the Betty Lou dress, during a great Black Friday sale. For less than $5, I got a bargain!  I was a little nervous to try a PDF pattern that was just under 50 pages, but as you can see, it worked out:


I did find this to be a challenging sew but not enough for me to never return to the pattern again.  Gathering the ruffles was very tedious and the bodice ruffle took me at least a full hour.  I also struggled with the instructions - it wasn't the clear, concise format I've been used to.

I purchased the fabric from an after Christmas sale at $5 a yard.  That kind of price was perfect for a project like this, especially when I thought I needed 1.5 yards of each fabric.  (It turned out I needed a bit less of each, as I have some leftover fabric besides scraps).

Stash used in this post: 2.5 yards
Stash used since January 1, 2016: 3 yards
Stash used to date: 5.5 yards

Thanks for reading!  I am going to sew another dress this week but I've also started a brand new quilt.  I'll check back in soon.

Linking to Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it up Friday.

Saturday, January 09, 2016

Baby Girl Quilts x2

I had all week to make a baby quilt for a shower that was scheduled for this morning.  I was excited to finally try making a pixelated heart quilt.  I used a Valori Wells butterfly print from my stash to inspire a warm pull of stash fabrics in deep and vibrant shades of plum, orange, and red.  I considered surrounding the heart in low volume prints with white and pink but soon discovered gray was a better way to go.  

The funny thing that happened was, on Thursday night, when it was all put together, I decided I simply couldn't part with it.  I want to do more with this piece and I wasn't willing to quilt it up, bind it, and give it away so soon.  

So I decided I'd better make something else and began this second quilt yesterday around lunch time, finishing around 1 am (with lots of interruptions, of course, including the monthly book club I attend).  

I am really pleased with how this came out too. Here's my personal feedback on the quilt:

The bad: I will admit I am embarrassed with how wonky the whole thing looks.  I really don't think I trimmed it crookedly after quilting.  I don't think I ever had this problem when I pin-basted and I am wondering this has anything to do with spray baste?  The edges are definitely kind of wavy.  The picture, which was done in haste, as I was running late for the shower this morning- makes it look pretty crazy but I promise it looks pretty cute in person.  If anyone has any insight into this, please let me know.  Edited to add: I don't think it's the spray baste- what has changed is that I have been machine binding my quilts.  Am I wrapping it too tightly?

The good: I LOVE the bear print and this pattern showcases it beautifully without wasting a lot of fabric by way of fussy cutting.  Matching prints from my stash was a little difficult but I think I did decently and I am giggling at all the coincidental "b" words in this print: bear, balloon, bike, bird, and butterfly.

If you ever want to do this pattern yourself, it's so easy.  The measurements I used are: two 10.5 x 40 panels of the bears and the strips measure 2.5 x 7 and I used 60 strips from 11 fabrics.

This week was personally difficult for me because my baby has had a terrible cold which I also caught from him.  We've both been miserable.  Yet somehow I persevered with these two projects.  The deadline of the baby shower was a BIG motivator to work on these but I also think my enthusiasm was linked to starting something new and fresh with fabrics that I was excited about.

This has helped me understand myself better: maybe I am sewing so many dresses for Charlotte and avoiding my WIPs because I am tired of my old projects and I enjoy the almost instant gratification of finishing up a dress in a day or two.  When I am not excited about a project, I do everything to avoid it!  So I decided I am going to give myself a break and allow myself to start some new quilts, which also relates to my goal this year of tackling some stacks of fabric that have been waiting for my attention.  There will come a time when I will feel motivated to deal with my currently uninspiring WIPs- and there aren't even that many: I think there are only four.

Stash fabric used in this post: 3 yards (not including the heart quilt top)

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

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

106 Yards in 2015

Here's a picture of (approximately) 106 yards of fabric to represent my accomplishment of 2016: I used up 106 yards from my stash!  My goal had been to use up 50 yards- I tried to be conservative, considering when I made the goal in January, I knew I would be having a baby in May.  

It was an interesting process to see how much fabric different projects really used up.  And it felt gratifying to see that my use of fabric is substantial, even with the significant life event of adding a third child to our family.  I plan to keep track of my stash used in 2016 but I am not going to aim for an arbitrary number of yards to be used up.  I could easily use up lots of fabric if I only made simple items like pillowcases and whole cloth quilts.  What I am really interested in accomplishing in 2016 is to work on some projects that have been waiting for far too long: I bought the fabric, I mixed in stash favorites, and these piles have sat and waited for years.  I am particularly concerned about any kid-themed quilts.  I want those done for my children to enjoy- it will be too late when they're teenagers and older.

My favorite project of 2015 was my Swoon quilt.  I can't believe how fast it came together and I love everything about it.  I wish more projects would feel so effortless.

And I certainly embraced my love of making dresses for my daughter:

I am still mulling over specific goal ideas for 2016.  Right now I just feel overwhelmed because my baby is fighting a never-ending cold, my sewing room is a mess, and I am so sad Christmas vacation is over and I feel the need to establish a real routine- which just feels overwhelming!  I will get my sew-jo back soon, I am sure!  I have to get a baby quilt done for this Saturday- so I will be sharing that soon.  Thanks for reading!