Monday, April 23, 2018

Red Cross Baby Quilt

I have a good friend from college who is expecting her first daughter. I'm so thrilled for her! Having four daughters myself, I'm so happy for her. When she told me it was a girl, I started brainstorming quilts for her, and she said she didn't really have a preference on color except for gray and pink, and extra colors were okay.

Then, she told me she'd be in town for a conference and would be having a baby shower, so my deadline, which was originally based on her July due date, got moved up a couple months. Yikes! I got to work quickly and got a quilt top off to Marion for quilting about a week later. Marion was willing to work with my quick deadline, and got it back to me just in time to bind.

I used a pattern from Vintage Quilt Revival, one of my favorite quilt books, and I modified it only so slightly. They used nine Red Cross blocks to create a center and then set it on point for a lap sized quilt, but the center was about 43" square, which I thought was a perfect size for a baby quilt and I liked it better not set on point, so it worked out great! 

The prints all came from my stash, and all I needed to purchase was the background. And the backing. I opted to go with minky because I'd need to piece a back for quilting for a plain backing, but minky is 60" wide so I wouldn't need to piece it. Lazy? Yes. But also, you can't beat minky! I got so lucky and a local shop had their flat fold minky for $7/yd, so I got a slightly bigger piece than I needed (the piece I found was 1-3/4 yards) but paid only about $13 after tax, which is less than a yard would have cost, and cheaper than a backing from Kona. Huzzah! 

I decided to bind it with a solid pink I had in my stash, and I think it worked well.

I'm really so excited for her and I hope she loves this quilt!

This quilt was my One Monthly Goal for April and I'm happy to say I finished it. I'll be linking up at Elm Street's One Monthly Goal link up party.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Scrap Management

Let's talk scraps, shall we? We love them, we hate them, we love to hate them...sometimes we feel all that at the same I right?

That's how I feel. Sometimes, scraps can induce guilt. After all, we paid the same price for those scraps as we did for our yardage. And I love fabric so much so I should be itching to use up all the lovelies, right? Sometimes I am. I love sewing from scraps almost as much as from my stash. But, I've been using scraps a lot this past year and thought I'd share my methods as they seem to be working well for me. Hopefully, something I share might help you in your scrap management. Or at least, you can enjoy the scrappy pictures! I don't do anything truly groundbreaking, I assure you.

First, let's address fabric storage. I keep my stash in drawers, folded to (approximately) the same size, and organized mostly by color. I have my holiday prints and my solids separate. I keep mostly fat quarters and larger in my stash, but sometimes smaller pieces depending on whether or not I feel like they might be enough to use in a pattern. I keep my scraps organized in clear plastic bins from Ikea.

I have one box of precuts (and fabrics I have "pre cut") though I should filter this bin's contents out into the other scrap bins because I just don't use precuts. The others are sorted by color: neutrals, reds/oranges, yellows/greens, blues/teals, and purples/pinks. I also keep one box that is a flex box: I use it to store scraps in the color scheme for my current scrap project. This is my one special thing I do in my scrap management, though I'm sure I'm not the only one who does this. And it stems from my habit of keeping fabrics for quilt projects together until a quilt is complete. That way I don't have to go hunting for the fabric if I miscut something or if I didn't cut enough.

I've read a lot of people that sort by size, and that recommend pressing and neatly folding scraps, and that's all very well and good. But I have young children, which means my sewing time is limited, and they sometimes play in my scrap bins. I don't have time to press scraps before storing, especially since they'll be messed up again. I'd prefer to press as needed.

Years ago, I read Bonnie Hunter's method for scrap storage and decided to try it out, and spent hours cutting my scraps to size. I started making a wonky star scrap quilt that would use some of those sized squares. But guess how much I've done with those squares, really? I still need to finish up that wonky star quilt, but it's not interesting to me right now, so it's on the back burner. Heck, it's not even on the stove, lol! The thing is, her method sounds really great. I'm sure it's very useful for a lot of people. But it wasn't useful to me because that's not how I sew. I actually let my 5-year-old take the 3-1/2" squares and start a simple quilt herself. She's having a great time and I'm glad some of them are getting used. I let my 8-year-old raid the bin sometimes too. Her tooth pillow used charm square I had cut.

I like my scrap quilts to have a coherent color scheme so sorting by color rather than size works for me. When I need a new leaders and enders project (which is what I use scraps for), I pick a pattern. The last one came from Scraps, Inc. Volume 2, and the current one came from Scraps, Inc. Volume 1. Then, I decide on a color scheme. Once I've got an idea, I start pulling scraps from my bins that look large enough and that are the colors I want. I try to not be too rigid in colors, after all, that's the beauty of scrap quilts, right? I keep all the scraps in my flex bin, and start cutting. After I've cut everything, I keep the flex bin filled, just in case I need more or decide to make it larger. I'll probably do that with my current quilt, because I have so many scraps left in the bin and I don't think it would be too hard to make it larger. It is set on point, so it won't be super easy, but that's okay. I'm sure I can figure it out.

I keep smaller pieces than I should because I don't tend to use super small pieces. If I can get a 1" square out of it, I'll probably keep it. It feels wasteful to throw them away. I also keep a tissue box full of tiny scraps for my girls. I keep thinking that they can use them to glue on to collages. They don't. Sometimes they play with them. And every once in a while, I toss the box and start again.

I think the most important thing about scraps is to keep them in a way that is functional for you and will help you use them. I learned that after trying Bonnie Hunter's method. I'm much more inclined to get excited about a quilt with a coherent color scheme and a fun pattern, and I don't tend to use precuts at all (even ones I've purchased...) so I needed something that worked well for me. So for me, organizing by color helps me get the right fabrics. It's also helpful if I only need a small piece of something like for the sampler I'm working on from Patchwork City. In that case, I'm usually looking for a specific color rather than a specific size. If you make samplers, color sorting can be helpful.

Anyway, that's my scrap management. It's worked pretty well for the past couple years, and I'm excited to share my first really big scrap project with you soon! I've just gotten the quilt back from the quilter and I need to bind it. I'm thinking it's a great time to practice using binding ends that I save so diligently (actually, lately I've been throwing them back in my scrap bins, ha!). Anyway, we'll see. So you can watch for that soon!

Now the real trick I'm finding, is what to do with garment scraps? I've been sewing more and more garments lately and knits obviously can't go in my quilting scrap bins! Hmm.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

April One Monthly Goal

March flew by for me, did it for you as well?

I'm hoping to be more deliberate (and therefore more productive!) in April. However, I've already been thrown off-kilter and the month's only just begun! I was hoping to make good headway on my Venice quilt, and I still hope to, of course, but things come up. As is usual when you don't live under a rock, haha.

I have a dear friend I roomed with in college who is expecting her first baby in July! I'm so excited for her, and immediately began to think about making her a quilt. She currently lives in Seattle, and I expected to mail it to her in June or July. But! She texted just last week to tell me she is making a last minute trip to Utah in mid-April and her mother-in-law is throwing her a shower. I'd much prefer to give it to her in person, so my deadline got moved up by a few months and all the sudden the pressure was on! 

I rushed out to get background fabric--I had all the prints I needed--and set to work on the pattern I selected: a modified Red Cross quilt from Vintage Quilt Revival (my favorite book!). But, preparing is one thing.

Her shower is on April 21st and so my goal (with a very firm deadline!) is to finish the baby quilt for my friend. 

I've already spent an hour piecing it, so I shouldn't have too much trouble.

My other goals I hope to get to include the following.
  • Make progress on my Venice quilt, specifically finish four of the sixteen blocks.
  • Trace the pattern for Lisette 6411 and prepare the fabric. This is my least favorite part of garment sewing, and I think I could get a lot more done if I didn't procrastinate this odious task so much.
  • Bind my triangle quilt. This one is actually pretty important too, because I plan to submit it to an art competition. I don't have it back just yet, but the quilter has finished it, and I'm anxious to see it. First, I must pick a binding fabric...
  • Take my girls on a fun outing for spring break.
  • Exercise three times a week. Odious but necessary. I am very unfit right now. 
  • Plan a summer weekend away. I have a feeling we'll need it. I'm hoping to talk my mom into taking my girls for a few days, but I think she's worn out and that might not happen, so a family camping trip would also suffice.
I'm linking up to One Monthly Goal link up. :-)

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Venice Quilt Underway!

So, my March goal for One Monthly Goal was to get my fabric completely cut out for my Venice quilt (using the Wallflower pattern). I was overwhelmed by being back from vacation and getting back into a routine, and I wasn't sure how much sewing I would get done or even what I needed to get done. So, I set myself a very reachable goal. And, as you can imagine, I blew it out of the water. Yes! So much better than falling short, though, so I'm glad I set a really simple goal.

I not only got everything cut out, I got all the block components sewn and pressed. Now I need to piece the blocks together and then just sash them together. This quilt has been faster than I expected, but just as enjoyable as the Shimmer quilt, which has a very, very similar block. I love Allison Harris's quilt patterns so very much! I'm also very excited for this quilt to come together.

This month, I also managed to get two shirts sewn for my girls. I made the Hopscotch shirt from Oliver and S, and the girls LOVE them. Hooray! I added two extra inches to my eight-year-old's, and I should have added another, and I should have added some length to my five-year-old's. Oh well, next time. And there will for sure be a next time, because this pattern is great. Not difficult, and a great, basic look.

I'm linking up to One Monthly Goal at Elm Street Quilts.

Friday, March 2, 2018

March One Monthly Goal

I've had a hard time coming up with a goal for this month. We just returned from Hawaii, so I'm still in vacation mode, coupled with jet lag, and a requirement to resume regular mom-duties. But, one of the first things I did was start cutting out my Venice quilt (I'm using Cluck Cluck Sew's Wallflowers quilt). This has been a long time in coming: I've had the fabrics picked out for over a year and just couldn't settle on a pattern. I finally decided right before we left, so I was anxious to get home and get started.

So, I guess my very obvious one monthly goal is to finish cutting out that quilt, even though I'd rather have a goal for actual stitching. I don't really like the cutting out part of quilting, so, while I haven't minded cutting out what I've started, I'm still not looking forward to finishing and making time to do that. I'd rather do the sewing! :-)

Unfortunately, cutting out all the background fabric is rather dull. I got through the colorful fabrics today, but now I've got hundreds of background pieces to cut. Hopefully, I'll get it all done. It is so satisfying to have a whole quilt project cut out!

I'm linking up to Elm Street's One Monthly Goal.

Reversible Bucket Hats

I made my twins matching reversible bucket hats for the beach! We went to Hawaii the last week in February, and I was worried they would really need sunhats, because they still don't have a ton of hair, and instead of beating my head against the wall trying to order some, I just made them instead.

I used Oliver and S's free pattern, and I think they are so cute! I took a risk and sewed them together, instead of sewing one first to make sure it worked, but luckily it totally did. They don't have straps, so I was a little nervous about how useful they'd even be. As it turned out, we had mostly overcast days, so they didn't need to keep them on (which they didn't...haha). Still cute, though!

Friday, February 23, 2018

February Bernina Block Party

Hooray, I finished the final big block for Bernina's Block Party! It's actually a great accomplishment: the instructions have been horrendous. Really bad. My biggest issue with them was that every single pattern had cutting instructions to cut triangles. To make half-square triangles. Seriously. And, not only that, but every block that needed HSTs needed at least 4-8 of any given pair, so why not use some quicker methods? Same for flying geese. Instead of using the square-on-the-rectangle method, or even better, the four-at-a-time method, she included instructions to cut triangles for every piece. Yuck.

Anyway, I redrafted most blocks to include making HSTs or Flying Geese the easier way. But I tire of doing my own math so I'm glad this project is almost done. I'm also excited to see my quilt put together! The pattern is really pretty.

This is the biggest block, at 24 inches, and it went together in a couple of hours, even with my need to redo the math. That's been one good thing about these blocks: none of them have been very time-consuming.

Oh, and I did get the backing for my Summer Sampler finished, too! I'm feeling a pinch on our budget right now, though, so it's not going out to a long-armer just yet. :-)

I'm linking up to Elm Street's One Monthly Goal.