Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Finish- A-Long Fourth Quarter Finishes

Today I have my final finish of 2013 to share.  I wasn't sure if I would get it done by the end of the "fourth quarter," but my Woodland Sampler is complete.  I had intended to have it framed too but I am going to wait until after I move - it seems silly to risk glass breaking within the frame as our stuff travels across the country.

I enjoyed stitching this pattern on tired nights in front of the TV.  I made a few mistakes but hopefully they are difficult to notice.

This is the fifth finish of the six projects I listed in my fourth quarter Finish-A-Long list found here.  

#1.  The Christmas Countdown Calendar was completed in time to use for the month of December and resulted in many early mornings because my son was so excited to see what was in the next pocket.

#2.  This hexagon quilt was finally quilted and bound and donated to a Senior Care project.

#3.  Woodland Sampler- DONE.

#4.  I completed this simple baby girl quilt with the rogue hexagon flower I had sticking to my design wall for half the year.

5.  The City Sampler quilt is not yet finished.  

6.  The Harry Potter quilt is quilted, bound, and was given to my sister for Christmas.

I think I was pretty successful with meeting my finish-a-long goals mainly because I felt strongly that I didn't want to drag a bunch of WIP's and UFO's across the country for when we move.  Making a list of goals is also effective for me and helped motivate me to not start a bunch of new things.  Thanks to Leanne for this fun blog activity.  

Monday, December 30, 2013

New Projects for the New Year

Yep, I started a new quilt.  And it's big, as usual.  I have wanted to make a large New Wave quilt for years and use prints instead of a neutral for sashing.  I know I am a bit behind - the New Wave pattern is so 2011 so I guess you can probably expect a Swoon or Scrappy Trip quilt from me in 2016......

I dug into my Amy Butler Lark collection and added a little Cameo and Notting Hill for the wedges.  For sashing, I am using stash basics and blenders- working hard to show contrast between the busy fabrics.  Everything is cut and now I am really enjoying having an excuse to spend lots of time at the sewing machine.

I have also decided to participate in the Allison Glass Feathers QAL.  It is a paper piecing pattern and I am going to use this Sunrise bundle I received for Christmas.  I have a Groupon to a local store that carries every Kona color - so I have a lot of options for sashing color.  Do you have any opinions?  I am leaning towards Pepper (almost black) or a really dark blue (Nightfall?) - I know I want something dark so that all of the colors really stand out.

Feathers QAL – Paper Piecing Tutorial

Saturday, December 28, 2013

2013 Review

The above mosaic represents some of my favorite projects from this past year.  They include (in no particular order): winning a major contest, completing my oldest UFO, making a quilt without a pattern, using some of my most favorite fabrics, being published twice in Quilty, working with Ann Kelle, selling my first commissioned quilt, participating in charitable sewing, making an item of clothing for my daughter, and participating in online activities/linkups and QAL's.

I finished 23 quilts this year and did a whole lot of other types of sewing, including overcoming my fear of zippers, I rekindled my love for cross-stitch, and I finished almost all of my UFO's.

To review this past year, I thought it would be fun to answer most of the Sew Mama Sew Reflections and Projections Series Questions:

  • Looking back on 2013, what trends stand out?

Quilters have been using background fabrics besides the "safe" choices like white, snow, and grey. Examples include BadSkirt's ABC quilt, and Stitched in Color's Red Stars quilt.  Fabric companies are churning out basics in a major way with multiple hues of Pearl Bracelets, Allison Glass' Sunprint lines, Art Gallery Square Elements, and the most recent Free Spirit True Colors collections.

Informal QAL's were all the rage in 2013 - from the X Plus, Scrappy Trip, Missouri 16-Patch, and Marcelle Medallion- everyone was sewing along together without fixed schedules or prize incentives.  The hunt for out of print fabrics seems to have died down, perhaps people are more content with the constant and diverse offerings that wasn't as omnipresent 5 years ago? 

  • Was there a personal or an industry high point?
My personal high points: my daughter loves, and is clearly attached to her quilted blanket.  Now if only I hadn't used so much white!  It gets dirty fast.  It's been nice to have ended my term in BMQG leadership and participate as a regular member.  Finally, I am loving my new sewing machine- I am using a lot of the "fancy" features my old machined didn't have and it's sewing like a dream.  

  • What did you make that you’re most proud of?
I am pretty proud of the Harry Potter quilt I made for my sister.  I found a tasteful way to use a panel with materials I had on hand.  The thrifted star blocks were perfect for this project.  Good or bad, it's helped my justification for hanging onto things because you just never know when such random things will be useful.  It's definitely not the most challenging or "beautiful" thing I made this year, but I am happy with the way I used a very challenging fabric (the panel).  

  • Whose work inspired or awed you?
Jolene at Blue Elephant Stitches makes my jaw hit the floor every time she posts. Two of my favorites from this year are here and here.  I also cannot stop thinking about the creation of my real life friend, Natalie, who just won the modern category for the Double Wedding Ring Challenge.  

  • What was your favorite fabric collection or print?
I thought I was over Lizzy House fabrics after making the rainbow quilt with her fabrics, but Constellations won me over once I saw its saturated, deep and dark colors that are so different from the average floral fare we are inundated with.  That being said, I still love a good floral and have to give a shout-out to Joel Dewberry's Bungalow collection.  I don't have any of it myself, but Rashida Coleman Hale's Koi collection is gorgeous and unique too.

Joel Dewberry Bungalow
Here's a picture of some of my favorite individual prints released this year:

Roses in Graphite from Birds of a Feather, Strawberry in Green from Briar Rose, Flight in Black from Waterfront Park, Go Go London in Lustrous from Carnaby Street.

  • Do you have a book, pattern or class from the past year to recommend?
SO many good books came out this year and I love looking through them.  Here's a picture of my favorites:

Hand Quilted with Love by Sarah Fielke, Making Quilts with Kathy Doughty, and Liberty Love by Alexia Abegg.
  • What are your thoughts about social media? How is it going for you? What do you love or hate?
I am sad that so many bloggers are using instagram more than blogging.  I can't say a whole lot about instagram because I am not a user but I know I prefer the narrative that is included in blog posts.  I know I need to give instagram a try, perhaps I will sign up in 2014.  I guess I am hesitant to add another time-eating aspect to my personal computer time.

I am continuing to enjoy using flickr and blogs - despite their decline in popularity.  I have tried to get more involved in link-ups, QAL's, and be better about responding to comments on my own blog.  

  • Who do you think will be a rising star of 2014?
Lu Summers.  Her book is gaining lots of excitement and I am hoping for an awesome new Moda release in 2014.
Mary Fons.  Okay she is already very prominent in the quilting industry but Quilty is coming into it's sophomore year and will continue to grow readership.  She totally rocked it with her talk at QuiltCon (easily the best lecture I listened to from the Craftsy offerings).  And she has a book coming out in June- cannot. wait.
  • Can you tell us anything about what to expect from you in 2014? Any projects or life-changing goals you can share?
would like to challenge myself to make a quilt that is complicated and contains at least one element that I have not done extensively, e.g. curves, applique, paper piecing.  I also would like to make 1-2 quilts out of my Ugandan fabric stash, make a quilt completely out of my scraps, and make a quilt with my own pattern idea.  I finally need to make a Halloween quilt - hopefully in time for the fall.

Like a lot of people, I want to whittle away at my stash and stop falling for fabric sales and focus on what I already have.  Our family's move across country and subsequent budget crunch may be the kick in the butt that I need.

  • Is there anything else about the sewing industry or community that you’d like to talk about?
I would love to see more quilting books be released that cater to those who are beyond beginning.  I love all the new books being churned out by the industry but sometimes they fall a bit flat when so many of them have pages upon pages explaining the basics of supplies, binding, and fabric.  It is especially underwhelming when these books are filled with yet another pattern for an e-reader, a sleep mask, or the dreaded accessory no one would ever wear.  I love books that focus on quilts, bags, and pillows- those are a bit more versatile and useful.

I would also like to see better blues and purples released by the fabric industry.  I am so done with aqua and would love to see more saturated colors.  I am also tired of pastels, although I guess "low volume" isn't going away anytime soon.  

Thanks for reading!  If you decide to answer the Reflections and Predictions questions, please let me know- I would love to read your thoughts.

Friday, December 27, 2013

The Last of the Christmas Gifts

It is 1:13 am on Friday morning.  I cannot sleep - so I decided to blog.  The worry surrounding a cross-country move has set in (the highs and lows have been hitting me constantly!).  

These little guys were the most stressful aspect of my handmade Christmas gift giving.  They were impossible to work on in front of my children: gone are the days when Gregory is oblivious to what I am making.  Finding the energy to work on them after the kids had gone to bed was not easy!  I was also stressed about the eyes: I get worried that if I mess up softie faces, the whole project will be horrible.  Long story short, I was saved by using plastic "safety" eyes - although I do think the original eyes called for in the pattern are cuter (the pattern is from a real-life friend, Shannon Orr, and is found here.)

Anyway, I persevered with my goal to provide a matchy-handmade gift for each of my children.  I know these days when they are young and like things like this are fleeting.  A few years down the road, they will be begging me for gadgets and other teenager-y things and I know I will yearn for the days when they appreciated my handmade gifts.

I loved that the pattern has you put a layer of fusible fleece to line the main body pieces- at first, I thought this could be skipped, but I soon realized that you definitely want that extra firmness when sewing so many things to the owl.

I changed a few things from the pattern besides the eyes: I added 9 feathers (25 instead of 16) and I added flat wings and feet instead of stuffing them with filling.  The feathers are my favorite aspect of this project - it's too cute!

The kids love them so far, the favorite activity has been making them fly by throwing them around.

The final gift I sewed together was a Take Along Tote for my mom.  I used a Vintage Modern charm pack and other stash fabrics to put it all together:

I will be back with a 2013 year-end wrap up post.  Thanks for reading!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Sew Sweetness Bag Contest and other things

I hope you don't mind, but I'd be lying if I said this blog wasn't partly about a little self promotion.  They posted the 15 finalists of the Sew Sweetness Bag Contest at Sew Mama Sew.  My Frou Frou bag was chosen among the 59 entries, so I am psyched.  If you have a second, please feel free to vote for me here.  The 3rd place prizes seem just as awesome as 1st place (although, this is the purse that witnessed the untimely death of my iron, and an iron is one of the 1st place prizes....).  The voting is open until December 31at midnight.  They chose some lovely bags- the talent is amazing.

Time to catch up on some City Sampler blocks:




In personal news, my husband's transfer to Colorado Springs has finally come through!  We had a goal to be there by spring 2013- so we feel this is long overdue.  Throughout the process of making the decision to move and pursue a transfer, I grieved over moving so far from close friends and family.  At this point, I know I need to move on and focus on the positive things this means for my family and I.  My husband and I are going house hunting out there in early January and I am especially psyched that we will be at least tripling our square footage of our living space for the same cost of a mortgage that we are paying in Massachusetts rent.  I am so excited for my kids to have a fenced-in yard as well!

I have already contacted the Front Range Modern Quilt Guild and I am excited to join their group.  It's comforting to know that I will meet like-minded people out there as well as the church "family" I have found every time I have moved.   One of my sisters, who I am very close to, lives in CO and we just learned that my husband's brother (who is married with a child - my children's only cousin!) was accepted to dental school in Denver.  So despite moving away from many cherished people in New England, I am thrilled to live closer to other important people in my life.

I wish I could show you the last of my handmade Christmas gifts but it's overcast and dreary today and I have to admit that I rely on sunshine to achieve the best pictures.  I will share my last few finishes at the end of the week.  In the meantime, I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season and thanks again for all of your support.

Friday, December 20, 2013

More Christmas Gifting

I have been sewing like crazy with Elizabeth Hartman's Perfect Zip Bags pattern.  I have the directions and most measurements for "Bag C" memorized at this point.

I made a small and large version here:  The cat (from E.H.'s catvent QAL, of course!) one is for my sister who's favorite color is "Facebook blue."  I couldn't resist using a scrap of bird fabric.

Two sewing themed pouches for some sewing-loving friends, using some of the selvage blocks I had previously made:

And finally, two plain ones with some pretty fabric.  I have truly enjoyed making these because they are for good friends who have done a lot for me and my family.  I will say, however, that this assembly line sewing that constitutes making the same thing over and over drove home my feeling that I do not think I would enjoy cranking out things to sell......


I finally made a Batman mask for my nephew to go with his super cape.  This was insanely easy and as you can see, my son wants one now too.  

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Handmade Gifting

Last year I don't think I made any handmade gifts because Charlotte was still so young - only 10 months or so and Gregory was barely three.  I had my hands full.  This year, I have a whole new motivation to crank out the handmade gifts- there's a little bit of pressure (i.e. looming deadline....) but I am enjoying it.

A few weeks ago, I had a Saturday with two holiday parties that included a gift exchange.  On the Friday night before, I made these two bow pillows.  I was inspired by my friend Annee's blog post here.  I did my pillows a bit differently than hers and will be sharing a tutorial soon.  The pillows were well received and it was a fun day visiting with friends from BMQG and my church.

I came home with these goodies from the parties: an adorable zip pouch and some pretty  fabric.

Later, I made another bow pillow for a friend who's moving, using some of my Jingle leftovers:

 Now I am on to doing lots of zip pouches, using this pattern by Elizabeth Hartman.  By using some double sided washable tape and this ingenious pattern, these are coming out awesome every time.  I had been so intimidated to do these and now I am laughing at myself for being so scared to try it out.

 It's also been a great way to use up some of those Moda 2.5" charm packs that I still have after attending quilt market in 2011.

My daughter is loving all the bags I have been making and deserves to have one of her own.  My sister did the Elmo cross stitch and I made it into a bag.  I regret that I didn't make the handles thinner but I don't think my baby will care.

Even though I have been quite ambitious with gift sewing, I decided to give myself a break and not go crazy for my son's love of pirates.  I considered making this doll, but abandoned the idea when I saw I could buy a cute pirate doll for about $2 more than the cost of the pattern alone.  I also considered making a pirate themed quilt but quickly realized that he would love a pillowcase just as much, if not more.

I still have lots I want to sew up in time for Christmas but the end is in sight.  Linking up with WIP Wednesday:

Monday, December 16, 2013

City Sampler Blocks 85-90

Time to catch up on my City Sampler blocks.  After this, only 10 more to go!

Number 85 might be my most favorite yet:







Thanks for reading.  Linking up with Sew Sweetness.