Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 in review

I started not to do a year in review post because it didn't feel like I'd done as much sewing as in other years, but I started flipping through the pictures & decided to put them together anyway:

It ended up being more than I thought!

The upcoming year holds some changes and I once again find myself wanting to be more thoughtful and purposeful about my time. Purely a coincidence that it's the New Year - I'm not a New Year's resolution kind of person. But the New Year does remind me that another year has passed without me accomplishing the things I said were important to me the year before. As this relates to sewing, I have two main goals for the upcoming year:

1. A new quilt for my bed. I made a brown quilt in guitar fabric for my husband when I first started quilting, but my dislike for it has only grown over time. It's nothing but silly to not have a quilt I love on my very own bed!

2. Capistrano.

I bought the book, Stellar Stars, by Judy Martin over 2 years ago because this quilt right here knocked my socks off. It stays on my mind, and almost every fabric shopping venture, in LQSs or online, brings this project to mind.

I don't think goal one & goal 2 can or should be combined. She has a version of the pattern large enough, but maybe too large as it would be about 110" long, and the piecing of this is going to be tedious and slow going. I think it would be better to make Capistrano in a wall hanging size and something more functional for my bed. Something that wouldn't cause my head to explode if a child spills grape juice, or a dog snags a toenail. I recently scored some Miss Kate during Fat Quarter Shop's year end sales and I think it fits the bill perfectly - bright & cheerful.

I hope you have a very Happy New Year and I look forward to seeing what we all create in 2015!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

A memory quilt

Someone contacted me a few weeks ago wanting a memory quilt for her husband made out of his recently deceased grandmother's pajamas. This quilt stumped me for a little while. One pair was pink, one purple, one with blue roses, and two with leopard prints. There were only 2 prints that struck me as something he would enjoy in a quilt, one white with red cardinals and one blue with white deer. I wasn't completely sure how I was going to make this work. But I visited a couple of fabric stores, looked around, rummaged through my stash and scraps and finally felt like I could put something masculine and cohesive together. And I did end up adding one blue floral from the pajamas, but it didn't seem overly girly to me. I tried to stick to outdoorsy prints, the colors blue, gray, red & green, and organic rather than graphic prints.  In all, there are about 25 prints, plus the gray which is Kona coal.

I didn't include the leopard prints on the front. I never see a man walking around with leopard print anything, but the colors were not feminine, and the fabrics were so very soft that I thought they'd make a perfect backing. I used the rest of the pajama prints from the front and ended up with a back that was completely made out of the memory fabrics.

Except for that one block towards the bottom that you probably already noticed. That one is a 9-patch of my favorite prints from the front, just for the fun of it.

The back was fun, and super soft, but not only were most of the fabrics heavier than quilting cotton to start with, they had to be stabilized, which added more weight. I didn't want to add the weight of cotton batting to the quilt, and polyester is out of the question for me, so I chose wool batting instead. As a bonus, wool batting doesn't shrink as much as cotton batting.

I quilted it in an overall stipple and bound it with more of the coal. Both the front and the back were busy enough that they didn't need another design element on the edge. The size is 50" x 70" - she just wanted a lap quilt that he could use while watching TV or something. For all my hesitations, I'm really happy with how it turned out.

I'll be linking this up to Crazy Mom Quilts for her Finish it Friday link up.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Nothin' but crickets

Despite the quiet on the blog, I've been on quite the sewing binge lately.

The largest is this chevron quilt out of Waterfront Park by Michael Miller and Kona Petunia: 

There are a few different ways to make chevrons, but I chose to cut diamonds. Given my superb organizational skills (eye roll), keeping track of which diamond goes where is the biggest challenge in this quilt. It goes together pretty quickly and there's nothing fussy about getting the seams to meet. 

I'm really sure there will be more quilts out of this pattern in my future. 

I also got a wild hair and went on a pillow making binge: 

Mainly because my scrap bins are overflowing, but also because I wanted to use the scraps from some lines together in a single project. I haven't made the backs yet because I bought invisible zippers and I don't even have the right foot for that. My mad organizational skills at work again. 

If you've been around a while, you might recognize this one as being similar to the front of my purse

I still love the Ghastlies! 

But my crowning achievement during this sewing splurge is this beauty: 

This is my first, but not my last, lattice quilt. I used a jelly roll of Petal by Tanya Whelan and some Kona snow. The quilt is not very large, maybe 48" x 64" and was destined for my ETSY shop. I'm not sure it will make it past the foot of my bed. I just can't stop looking at it! 

My favorite quilts this year have been made out of fabric I bought on a whim, just because it was on sale, and out of patterns I didn't put much thought into - they just seemed easy enough. It's the ones I agonized over and thought would be the most perfect quilt ever that I'm kinda "meh" about. Maybe I should think less...

I'm linking up to Freshly Pieced for her WIP Wednesday.

Edited to add: Linking up to Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it Friday.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Someone, somewhere is having triplets

Can you imagine? If you've read any blog post of mine where I even mention my daughter, you're sure to already understand that I'm just not on top of this mommy thing. One child has completely turned my life upside down. I'm sure the problem is with us - either me, or her, or the combination of us because if parenting was this hard for every person, the human race would have just died out by now. I spend some portion of every day wondering why it's so hard - I don't think it should be as hard as it is, but I just can't seem to get it figured out. Maybe someone out there is an expert on parenting an ADHD child with indicators of Aspergers. If so, maybe you could send some advice this way. Or prayers. Or earplugs. Whatever you got.

But back to those triplets. One of my clients requested three baby quilt tops that she will quilt herself for triplets on their way. We pretty quickly decided on using the same fabric line for each, but different patterns and as soon as I hard their names, Abigail, Sophia & Amelia, I wanted them on the quilts too. She mentioned the room colors were pink and teal. I had been eyeing the Emmy Grace line by Art Gallery since before it was available and knew that not only were the colors perfect, but the style would be perfect for such elegant and classic names as well:

The client selected an hourglass, pinwheels and chevron for the patterns and I got to work.

I particularly enjoyed the chevrons. It was my first time making them and I was surprised at how easy it was and how well they came together. I really enjoyed that process.

For the names, I went with gray fabric and white letters. I think the gray and whites in this line are what makes it. But not only was I struggling to make blanket stitching look good, either by hand or by machine, I wasn't quite happy with just gray & white. Lucky for me, I never put anything away because just then I spied some pink hand quilting thread I had recently used on another project. It turned out to be an adorable finish to the names:

Just the right touch of pink. I heat bonded the letters with Wonder Under first, of course.

I hope Amelia, Sophia and Abigail like their quilts. And I hope they and their mother get at least some sleep in the upcoming year!

Linking up to Crazy Mom Quilts for her Finish it Friday series.

Monday, August 4, 2014

I have the strangest little injury

I was driving down the road yesterday when I noticed the ring finger of my right hand had what looked like a blister. I was so confused as to how I could have gotten a blister on that spot.

It wasn't until I pulled out my hand quilting last night that I figured it out:

Hmmm. Maybe it's time to take a break?

Let me show you what I've been working on.

If you're thinking that looks old, you're right. I won't go into the long story of these blocks, but I have 16 of them, each a different color, that were embroidered by someone else and then given to me to quilt. 25 years ago. Her handiwork was really good, so good that I'm pretty sure my quilting is not doing it justice.

I was full of excitement when I got them, but I had no idea how to quilt and no one to show me and the internet had not yet been invented. I suppose I could have bought a book or something, but frankly, the thought didn't occur to me. They've been in the back of my mind since I started quilting 3 years ago, but I haven't been that interested in hand quilting before. Out of nowhere a few weeks ago, I had the compelling urge to hand quilt something, NOW. So I pulled these out & started. I've done 4 so far:

And I'm looking for your thoughts as to what I should do with them. The fabric is very thin, so thin that the embroidery threads on the back show through way too clearly, and so thin that I fear it might not hold up well as a quilt. It has small stains on it, although I'm not sure how. I've had them in storage for 25 years, only taking them out once or twice to look at. And I'm also wondering if 16 of them together might be too busy. I can picture one as a pillow cover, or a few made into a table runner, but all 16 together seems overwhelming. But something in me wants to stick to the original plan for them. What would you do?

Linking up to Freshly Pieced for her WIP Wednesday series.

Friday, July 18, 2014

This quilt has some serious problems

But I love it too much to focus on that. The fabrics in the top are Kensington by Riley Blake. I bought a jelly roll on a whim because it was on sale and fell pretty hard for it during construction. I love every fabric in this line and every color in every fabric.  

I did two rows of hand quilting in each white strip, and one row of machine quilting on the outside of each hexagon shape. It's not heavily quilted, but not too sparse either. 

The thread I used for the handquilting is a size 20 crochet thread that is actually darker than the green in the binding, but you almost don't see it against the white, unless you look closely. 

The backing is a fun dot I found at Joann's, and the binding is Kona Celery. Not one of my favorite colors, actually, but I had it on hand and it went very well with the yellow & green in the quilt. I'm happy with my choice. You can also see here the great disparity between the tops of my hand quilted stitches and the bottoms of my hand quilted stitches:) 

I will give some advice based on this quilt: 

1. If you're working with triangles, ALWAYS spray starch. Even if your fabric is a jelly roll and it seems like a pain to do. 

2. If you're cutting triangles, go ahead & get a ruler especially made for that triangle - don't just use the degree line on your straight ruler & figure it will work out. 

3. Don't get excited over the spray basting Walmart has for just $7. It works fine for some fabrics, but others just won't stick at all. 

4. If your basting fails, re-baste. Don't just stick a few pins in & call it good. 

5. If your quilt is basically not basted (see numbers 3 & 4 above), don't do the hand quilting first. Things will end up in weird places. 

6. And if you ignore all of the above, just throw it on the bed & love your new, very imperfect quilt. 

Linking up to Crazy Mom Quilts for her Finish it Friday series. 

Friday, July 11, 2014

My hero inspires me

To everything except finishing quilts apparently.

"Strawberry Patch", started over 2 years ago 

My hero, aka sister-in-law Kim, is an amazing person. When I first started dating her brother in '96, she was in her last year of nursing school. She went on to work close to 15 years in the medical ICU unit of our hospital, where she saw a huge variety of severe cases, many close to death.

 made in the Patchwork Wheel pattern by Don't call me Betsy
fabrics are Strawberry Fields by Fig Tree & Co.

But that's not why she inspires me, because I've never felt any urge or calling to work in the medical field.

Binding is a California Girl print, also by Fig Tree

She inspires me with her commitment to Jesus and the way she lives out her Christian faith. I'm sure being a nurse is a natural extension of that for her.

Backing is from the Butterscotch & Roses line, also by Fig Tree

If there's anyone I could be more like, it would be her.

That's a stick, only a stick, in the bottom of the photo...

I'm not sure my husband fully realizes how blessed he is to have the women in his life that he does. I count his sister, mother & daughter among the best women in the world.

Linking up to Crazy Mom Quilts for her Finish it Friday.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

I'm ready for the new school year - I don't know about her

The main project I just had to get completed over the summer was my daughter's messenger bag. Bags intimidate me, and while I did spend some time procrastinating it, I also spent time finishing it:

Can you tell she's a Monster High fan?

I used the Molly Messenger Bag pattern from Pretty By Hand and overall I'm very happy with it. If you follow Pretty By Hand, you'll understand I got more than one giggle out of making her pattern with skulls and crossbones. To say that it's not her style is an understatement.

It's a very roomy bag - I think 12" x 16" with a 5" depth. If I'd been more confident about it, I would have trimmed those measurements down a little. This bag is for a 7-year-old entering 2nd grade, so it's a little overkill. But I just knew I'd mess that up somewhere, so I just left it big, only shortening the shoulder strap. She loves the bag and if it turns out too big for school, we'll just use it as an overnight bag for when she goes to her granny's.

I'm prouder than I should be at how the shoulder pad turned out, with that image centered so well. If memory serves, it was more of a happy accident than my piecing skills anyway.

If Mandy had her way, the entire bag would have been made out of that fabric, so I did use as much of it as I could. The inside of the flap and the back and gusset parts of the lining were made out of it. Then I was done with that yard of fabric.

I did change the way the zipper tabs were made. She had you sew them together, turn them right side out, add a piece of the fleece and then turn the open ends under and sew. I ended up with a hot mess when I tried that. So I took some pellon decor weight interfacing and used the starch method of turning the edges under.

I know what you're thinking - that isn't exactly perfect, but trust me when I say it's much better.

I made a few additions to the pattern - some inside pockets on the front, a sewn-in key fob, and a name tag that includes our phone number. If this thing gets lost, I want to make sure it can find it's way home!

The only thing I'm not crazy about is the way the bottom sags. I'm tempted to see if I can find a way to get a piece of plastic in there. Not only does it bug me, but the main thing my daughter didn't like about her old backpack was how soft and collapsible it was - I wanted to make sure this bag was sturdier.

I also want to give a shout out to Sewpplies for providing the great iron-on patch that brought the whole design together. It makes the whole project, and as you can see, the image is very crisp and perfectly sewn.

The solids used are Moda Bella Platinum, which is my new favorite gray - very light & very cool, and Moda Bella Berry. As you can see, there's also a snippet of Kona black.

Linking up to Freshly Pieced for her WIP Wednesday, and Crazy Mom Quilts for her Finish it Friday, assuming she does it this week.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

It's my own fault

In my last post, I spoke briefly about my huge number of WIP's and how I was on a mission to work on them rather than starting something new.

Do you know where I'm going with this?

In my defense, I left my walking foot in Mandy's driveway. The two projects I have on my sewing table right now are the Strawberry Fields quilt, that I'm straight line quilting, and my daughter's messenger bag, that also requires straight line quilting of the pieces. I can't continue with either of those projects until I get my foot back, so I really had no choice. Really.

As a side note, you should go check out her new quilt! Very cute.

I scored a huge bundle of Paris Flea Market very cheaply at an estate sale last year and, other than taking it out to pet it every now & then, I haven't done anything with it. I was in the mood to finally cut into that, and I was in the mood for a quick and easy project:

You're only seeing half the quilt here because I don't have any tall quilt holders handy. The total quilt is 66" x 84".

I absolutely love it!!

The solid is Kona Putty, which was a happy accident. I bought 5 yards of it to go with my Rock 'N Romance bundle for my bed. I wanted the darkest "white" I thought I could get by with because ... life. Pets & kids. But I wasn't happy when I got it. I went just a bit too dark. Thankfully, it goes with these fabrics really well.

One of the very first quilts I made was also out of this pattern. One of the biggest joys in making this current one was seeing the difference in the process for me. When I made it the first time, it took FOREVER. And so many problems. I basted that stupid thing three times because it kept puckering as I tried to quilt it. I'm actually surprised I persevered and finished it. By contrast, I made this quilt top in one week. With no issues at all. So satisfying to see my own progress with this project.

I haven't yet decided how I will quilt it. Mainly because I keep wanting to hand quilt it, but hesitate to make that choice knowing the time commitment involved. But don't the vintage inspired prints and even the solid seem to scream for it? I'm thinking pink thread in a Baptist fan pattern.

And, if that rather large quilt top wasn't bad enough for someone "dedicated" to knocking out her WIP's, I'm also playing with the idea of the flowering snowball quilt along that Molly Flanders is hosting. And by "playing with", I mean my fabrics are starched and my templates made.

Linking up to Freshly Pieced for her WIP Wednesday.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Working down the list

A couple of months ago, I made a list of my WIP's and a list of projects I want to do in order to try to stay on track. A "to-do" list of sewing projects. Because my ADD brain just wasn't keeping up otherwise. I'd get focused on one thing & then - ohhhh, squirrel - I was off on something else.

It was a rather embarrassing list. Some projects that were very old, and some projects that were soooo close to being finished. Just do them already!

So here's two. The first is a baby quilt for a boy, because my husband seemed offended that I only made girl quilts for my shop. 

I really wish I was a better photographer. Some of the blame can be laid on my less than expensive equipment, but really, most of it is me. When I see the pictures of most of my quilts, I'm so disappointed. In person, this quilt is so pretty. In pictures, it doesn't quite make sense. It looks like "why did she put orange & yellow squares around a blue center?" 

The close-up is slightly better: 

And I was so happy to have this older Riley Blake print for the back: 

I'm really happy with this quilt. If I had a boy, I'd keep it for sure! 

This next one is for a girl, obviously: 

I've shown these blocks on the blog several times, so I won't go into them too much. I was particularly pleased with the back of this one: 

I think the yellow in the center is Kona banana. The blue stripes on the bottom, also Pam Kitty, is what I had left from binding my daughter's quilt and my table runner, and the yellow gingham on the top is from Riley Blake. 

I so love those kitty panels:

I still have one left.

Those are my finishes this week. They're both listed in the shop.

My plan is to buckle down and focus on housework and party planning next week as it will be my daughter's birthday. We're going to have about 12 kids at the house, and I'm going to make small cakes, with a cake bar to let them each decorate their own. It's times like this I wish I had an industrial kitchen and could just hose it off, letting all the water drain out of a hole in the middle of the floor. At least I'll be sending the kids outside after to play in slip & slides & other water-related things, essentially hosing them off:)

I'll be linking up to Crazy Mom Quilts for her Finish it Friday, assuming she does it this week.