Wednesday, November 26, 2014

WIP Wednesday: DYO Sampler

You guys- I haven't touched any holiday sewing.  I claimed that would be my focus, but it's just not been happening.  This DYO Sampler project- something I started on because of a whim- has been an obsession.  It's so much fun.  I get to try things out without committing to numerous identical blocks.  
Here are a set of three feathers.  I have made a baby quilt out of this pattern but I cut half of the feathers wrong- so it was nice to visit this again with more correct piecing:

I also dug out my copy of Word Play Quilts and did some improvisational piecing to create this:

There are several reasons why I chose this phrase:

  • It was a practical choice.  There are many quotes that I love but I didn't want to choose something that was quite long.  I want the stag to be the focus.
  • It reveals my connection to New Hampshire, where I grew up.  It's the predominant phrase on NH license plates that makes me laugh: while so many states go with something light-hearted like: "the peach state," "vacationland," and "birthplace of aviation" - NH is all about making a bold political statement.  I am sure there is some interesting history behind this.  
  • I identify with "Live Free or Die" - I feel pride for my country, I have lived in other countries and I am grateful for my freedom. Without getting into a long political discussion, lets just say that I lean towards the "Ron Swanson" type of feelings about government. (The irony of my husband working for the government is not lost on me!)
I encourage you to pick up a copy of Word Play Quilts.  I did this entire phrase in one evening- I'd say it took me about three hours.  It was easy and fun.  I found that "v" was the most difficult but it only took me one try.  Care had to be taken to have similar sizes for each word and I was also very attentive to my fabric choices- striving for high contrast so that it would be easy to read.

Linking up with WIP Wednesday.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Finish it up (Saturday): A New Baby Quilt and a Citrus Zip Pouch

I can finally share a project I've had to keep secret over the last month or so.  A good friend from Massachusetts is having a sweet boy after three girls.  Definitely a good reason to make a baby quilt!  She told me she likes bright colors - so I decided to go with a bunch from my stash with a bike print that I love and have had since my five year old son was a baby.  The pattern is from an older issue of Quilty: Nov/Dec 2013.

I followed the quilting suggestion from the magazine: wonky zig-zags, using my walking foot, all over the quilt.  It was pretty easy and was a welcome break from stippling or simple straight line quilting.

I used a transportation themed fabric for the back as well as leftover binding pieces from other quilts to bind the quilt.  The quilt measures 40 x 40.

I enjoyed making this quilt so much that I am going to do another one for my daughter, hopefully in time for Christmas.  Every time she sees me making something in my sewing room, she asks me, "Are you making a quilt for me?"  Of course she has about ten quilts already but I can't resist her enthusiasm.  I am going to use these adorable Ann Kelle Girlfriends prints as the focal points for the blocks:

Finally, here is another simple finish: a Citrus Zip Pouch from a tutorial on the Liberty London blog.  It's such an adorable idea but I was most intimidated by the curved piecing- which turned out to be really easy.  The part I struggled with was putting it all together and making the intersections near the ends of the zipper become somewhat neat: I did and re-did it three times before it was somewhat acceptable!

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

Friday, November 14, 2014

Purse Palooza 2014: My Own Design

The tedious task of paper piecing sixty 1"x2" flying geese has paid off:

I have always had a goal to create my own purse design, I have sewn so many and I thought it would be fun to incorporate the many bag making techniques I have learned over the years.  I also used knowledge from quilt and clothing making too.  It was quite the learning process to figure out appropriate measurements and the best methods and order to proceed with every aspect of the bag.  This experience has definitely given me a new appreciation for all of the many talented pattern writers out there.

The bag measurements are approximately 13" x 15."  It features an interior zippered pocket, a recessed zipper closure, leather handles, and some fun fabrics from Cotton and Steel, Anna Maria Horner, and Juliana Horner.  It has some of the strongest interfacing attached to the exterior pieces but it's not a super sturdy bag that is really rigid- I think I hit that balance just right.

It was tough to get a good picture of the interior, I will try again tomorrow during daylight hours:

As part of sharing this process, I must confess that two days ago, the bag was a bit of a disaster for me.  What I had begun to create was a boxy tote bag (see picture below).  This was not my original intention and I felt that it didn't match the style I was aiming for.  I spent a good hour seam ripping it apart- I honestly didn't abandon it altogether only because those dang flying geese represented too many hours of precious sewing time!  I didn't want to let them to go to waste.

I am happy I persisted and created something much more to my liking:

Linking up to Finish it up Friday and Sew Sweetness for Purse Palozza 2014:


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

WIP Wednesday: Bags

I've been busy, I will have a baby boy quilt to show you in about a week (after the recipient receives it in the mail).  I made a super cape as a birthday party gift.  If anyone has suggestions for other handmade gifts for preschoolers- please let me know.  I know I've been predictable in this department:

I've decided to take the plunge and make the Weekender.  I've been braving endless lines at Joann's to get the supplies.  I've dug into my stash and am thrilled to finally be using this awesome Echino buck print.  I've also been dabbling in a some paper pieced equilateral triangles but I am not sure exactly what direction I'm going yet:

But before I am allowing myself to dive into the Weekender, I wanted to try designing my own bag in time for the wrap up of Purse Palooza over at Sew Sweetness.  The hardest part is over (hopefully!)- I assembled four pairs of fifteen tiny flying geese.  I've made so many bags- I am excited to use techniques I've learned to create my own design but it's not been easy.  I've heard lots of people say, "I hate following patterns," but I am definitely in the opposite camp: it's so much easier when someone tells you exactly what to do!

I know I really should be working on more holiday sewing- I need more bags like I need a hole in my head- but I just can't help it.  Sometimes I just need to be creative in specific ways and then I can get back to "to do's" and deadlines.  Linking up at Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Book Club Door Prizes: Hedgehogs!

Since moving across the country, I have had to make a lot of effort to try and get to know people.  I've joined two guilds and two mom's groups.  One of the mom's groups is trying to put together a book club and I eagerly signed up.  I love the idea of a well functioning book club and I even volunteered to host the first meeting.  One of the advantages of our move is that I can finally have more than two people over at a time!  I've been dying to have a little party, so I decided to go "all out" for this event.

We all voted unanimously to first read The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery.  I wanted to force myself to read fiction (I almost always read nonfiction for pleasure reading) and we'd all "heard it was good."  Well, I have to admit that the first half of the book was agony.  I procrastinated and read two other books.  I put in a library request to reserve a copy of the movie based on the Hedgehog book.  Luckily I talked to a fellow book club member and she encouraged me to press on and it did get better.   But as far as the ending goes, let's just suffice it to say that I threw the book after I'd finally finished it.  

So while I didn't enjoy the book very much, I had a lot of fun making these door prizes:

I had to order the green hedgehog fabric because although I do have a lot of fabric- I only had one fat quarter with a few hedgehogs on it in my stash.  Making this library tote happened in just one evening- mostly thanks to Nick taking over with the kids after work yesterday.  I didn't use a pattern.  I used wool felt to make the "read" on the front of the bag and I couldn't believe I had some apple-colored webbing on hand for accenting the handles.

I lined the exterior pieces with some thrifted pre-quilted fabric instead of interfacing.  This Stof red/white fabric is so pretty and added some grown-up charm to the project:

Finally, I made two pouches.  The first patchwork pouch was made using this tutorial.  I like how it turned out but I wish I had finished the zipper ends differently- there is no way to make the two top corners not look kind of lumpy.  The other pouch is the famous "Open Wide Zippered Pouch" by Anna - I am very late to that party but I love how it came out and can't wait to make more!

Book club is on Friday and I plan to finally break out my crepe makers for the refreshments.  Can't wait!

Linking up to WIP Wednesday and Purse Palooza 2014.