Monday, February 13, 2017

Time for a Change Diaper Bag

I finished sewing my new diaper bag a few nights ago, hooray! So, I guess that means I can start taking my babies out, now, right?

Right... *sigh*


But still...I finished my bag! Yippee!


When I found out I was expecting twins, I knew I'd need a better bag solution. I had used a shoulder bag from my university days for my other girls and loved the size, the material (strong, black canvas), and the strap, which had a shoulder pad and swivel clips. But I didn't think it would be big enough for two kids. I started looking into Petunia Pickle Bottom bags because it seems like everyone in my neighborhood has one. Even my friend who couldn't stomach buying one with her first baby bought one somewhere along the way to her second. However, I just don't get the hype. And they're pretty expensive...and I don't think they're that attractive: I think the shape is a little strange. I looked at other styles of the Petunia Pickle Bottom, but didn't see any I loved, and again...the price...I just couldn't see myself spending that much money on something I didn't love. 


So I started looking for patterns and got SO lucky. Erin of Dog Under My Desk released a diaper bag pattern just this year! Perfect! I was not thrilled that she put her store on sale a mere 10 days after I purchased the pattern at full price, but I had sewn a bag from a pattern of hers before and knew they were worth the $10, so I tried to not feel too upset. 

It sort of worked.

I decided to use a lightweight denim (or chambray, maybe?) from my stash for the main fabric and I ordered a piece of Handcrafted 2 by Alison Glass for the lining. I love it! I had the yellow zips already so I didn't have to order any, and I ordered the killer hardware from Bag Maker Supplies on Etsy. I think the hardware is just beautiful, I really love it and I'll definitely order it again.


Even though I complained mightily about the price of commercial diaper bags, this isn't a cheap sew, especially if you want to use AG Handcrafted fabric. I bought the main fabric too long ago to remember how much I paid, and I had most of the interfacings in my stash, but if I had to guess, I'd bet this bag cost about $75-$85 to make, including the pattern purchase. I think it's worth it.


I thought adding a pieced strip of Handcrafted scraps would look really cool as a focal point on the bag and I'm so glad I went to the trouble of doing it, I love how it turned out!


I also added a pocket on the inside with elastic. This was an add-on on her blog and I went ahead and added one because you can never have too many pockets, am I right? 

I'm really excited to start using it. I love how it turned out! I did run into a couple problems while sewing it, but really, her patterns are amazingly written and make it pretty easy to be successful. And now, if I make the pattern again (my daughter has already requested one...we'll see), I'll know where to be careful (hint: the zipper on the top isn't lined up straight, but since it still works and hangs well, I left it).


I really recommend Dog Under My Desk patterns, especially if you're new to bag making but want to start. They're amazing!

Friday, February 3, 2017

Fabric Friday: February 3

It's interesting to see the announcements of the "colors of the year." I know these announcements were made a while ago. And I've been mulling over them. In the past years, I haven't been very excited about the colors. I didn't hate them, but I wasn't excited. This year, though, I'm excited about both Pantone's color and Kona's color. Flamingo. Really? Yes. I have four girls--sign me up! 

But, I am also excited about Pantone's greenery. Now, as you know, unlike Kona's COTY, you can't just order Greenery. But, I actually do have a bunch of the colors in the same color family as Greenery. Love! 


The other day, I was picking out some fabrics to add to my English paper piecing project, and decided to add stars in navy and green. Greenery green. :-) (The white will be the hexagon centers in the green stars, and the aqua will be the centers on the blue stars). I looked at the stack, and just fell in love. The fabrics I pulled just looked great together, and I fell in love with the group. Isn't it great? I love navy, and think it pairs so well with so many things. Including Greenery. Go Pantone!

Saturday, January 28, 2017

January...

So...January, huh? I haven't posted since December and don't even have morning sickness to blame. I guess twins are a good excuse...but really, I have been sewing, and I've actually sewed a lot, but haven't had a lot of finishes to post.

Still, since it's been SO long, I figured I'd post a few work in progress shots I took today.

Here's a quick shot of my design wall. I have a mini quilt top I started for the Disney Quilt Swap, but I had to drop out because my pregnancy was killer. My partner was a librarian who (among other things) liked Beauty and the Beast. I had to make a book-inspired mini. Lucky for me, I dig books and Beauty and the Beast, too. I swore I'd finish it up at some point, and now I'm trying to decide how to quilt it. I'm leaning towards just simple straight line quilting. Not quite matchstick, but lots of close lines.


I also have my first seven blocks in the Patchwork City Sampler book. I'm using it to feature travel-related prints. Of course, they aren't all destination specific--I've got some food prints and the camera prints. I decided to also include prints that include things that are important to me in traveling. :-)

I also have two quilt tops and backs ready to deliver to my favorite long arm quilter...but I'm waiting until my big roll of batting arrives. I ordered a roll of Pellon batting off Overstock.com after reading about it from Allison Harris, and since I paid $4 a yard for it (YEP.) I thought I'd take some with my quilts since she charges more. Hopefully the batting is nice!!


I also have been working on this English Paper Piecing project. I started it while I was on bed rest. I didn't work on it a ton, but I did a bunch. And I've worked on it periodically while I pump breastmilk. Because pumping is officially one of the most boring ways of spending time ever.



And, I'm working on a new bag. It's a diaper bag pattern from Dog Under My Desk, and while I get nervous sewing three dimensionally, her patterns are extremely thorough. I'm pretty excited about it, and hope it doesn't take too long. The one change I am making is adding this strip of fabric to the front zipper panel.



I've got lots of things going on...and lots to get started on, too. :-)

Friday, December 23, 2016

Fabric Friday: December 23

I've been dreaming and scheming about a sampler project as a tribute to my love of travel for a while. I got Elizabeth Hartman's Patchwork City book last year and thought it would be the perfect thing to use, and have hesitated to start for just a couple reasons. I was pretty intimidated by template piecing--I've used rotary piecing almost exclusively since I began quilting. Everything else that stood in my way was mostly related to laziness--I didn't have the templates prepped, I didn't have a block picked to start, I didn't have fabrics picked for a block, I had plenty of other projects, etc, etc...it was all stalling because I was intimidated. But! I have decided to go for it.


I've been acquiring cute travel prints for a while, and I couldn't resist the canal print from Kate Spain's Grand Canal line. But--I ordered it from Fabric.com with some other things, and so of course I ended up with a full yard due to their terrible pricing model on quilting cotton. I cut some off to make a notebook cover for my travel-loving sister, and decided that the scraps left from that cut would be perfect for a first block. But what prints to use with it?


I struggled at first with pulling coordinating prints for her notebook cover and ended up using solids. So when I decided to use the scraps for a block, I again had to consider coordinating prints. And I ended up with two separate stacks that both work equally well. I thought I'd showcase both of them here for Fabric Friday just to show how different two stacks that coordinate with the same focal print can be. Honestly, I can't even decide which one I like better, so I'll probably use both in the quilt.


I used a metallic print in both stacks and I think that complements the idea of Venice really well. Venice is so rich, and steeped with a history of wealth, that I think it works on a theoretical level. I did find that I had to be really careful with the blues and aquas because of how much of them there are in the background of the print. That was what I really struggled with when I was sewing the notebook cover. It needs good contrast so that the piecing is distinct.


So, as I was taking pictures of these stacks, I put them together, and realized that they make a really nice single stack, too! *sigh* I feel another quilt coming on!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Moda Sampler Shuffle

Several months ago, I got a hankering to start a sampler project, and settled on the Moda Sampler Shuffle. The quilt along was long over, and I had saved the block patterns during the quilt along, but Fat Quarter Shop has maintained the patterns on their blog, so I used their site as I sewed. I finished all the blocks just a few days ago, and while I'm not finished with this quilt project (I plan to add more blocks to make it a more sizeable quilt), it's always fulfilling to reach milestones!


You may notice a few blocks missing from my lineup. That's completely intentional, but I still finished with 30 blocks. Two of the blocks were applique and that wasn't what I wanted for my project for a couple reasons. First, and maybe most importantly, I hate applique. I'll do raw edge with fusible in certain instances, and I'll do wool hand applique, but I just don't enjoy needle turn or other hand-sewing methods. So, I avoid it. And second, the blocks really weren't the style I was going for. I wanted my quilt to look more contemporary, and the applique designed blocks are very traditional. No thanks. So, I skipped those and don't feel one bit guilty.

I did end up with 30 because I messed up on one, but liked the finished block, so I have two from that pattern (the chevron block), and I chose to remake one because it didn't turn out like I wanted and I wanted to try it again in a different color layout. I'm really pleased with how the second turned out. But, since there isn't anything really terribly wrong with the first, I'll include it too. So, 30. From 28 patterns.

I think I'll add blocks from the Splendid Sampler that's going on now (and from which I'm dutifully downloading patterns), but I'll surely skip any applique there, too. And I might just remake a few from the Sampler Shuffle in different color layouts. We'll see. I have a whole box full of scraps I pulled for this project that didn't seem to get any smaller. For now, I might take a bit of break and prep a new leaders and enders project because I'm out of my current one. There are always plenty of projects, aren't there?

Friday, December 9, 2016

Fabric Friday: December 9

We're here at another Friday...another week gone, another week closer to Christmas...and no progress made on my Christmas sewing for my girls...it's really tough now that they're older. My oldest, who is almost seven, stays up until 9:30, and by then, it's too late for me to pull out a sewing project and start. But--we have a neighborhood sewing night coming up on Tuesday, and I'm hoping that if I can get everything cut out, then it'll be easier to pull out when I have a few minutes here and there. We'll see.


I pulled this bundle out last week when I pulled my Tuscan bundle. I'm so drawn to navy and aqua right now, I just love them. I wanted to add a pop of something, and I tried orange, but I like these pinks better.


I'm knee deep in my Shimmer quilt, and I'm still working on my sampler project, so I don't really need a new project just yet, but pulling fabric is sure fun!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Cutting Up My Kona Color Card {Tutorial}

Over the summer, I bought Amy Ellis' pattern for her Majestic Mountain mini quilt. I HAD to make it, and I'm so pleased with how mine turned out! But picking the colors was no easy task. I had a Kona color card, but it was so difficult to pick colors that would work together from the tiny swatches that were so far apart from each other on the card! If you have a color card, I'm sure you know exactly what I'm talking about. You do your best, but in the end, it's just impossible. This was the first time I was needing to use it to pick solids to go together instead of picking solids to match fabric I already had, and it proved too much.

So, I cut it up.

I know a lot of people have done this, but I was nervous and I wasn't sure how I wanted to store it exactly. I was worried about losing swatches, and I was worried about finding the easiest way to use them. I know lots of people punched holes in them and strung them on a chain, but the swatches are so small already that I didn't want to punch a quarter inch hole through the color. And then I saw a post on the Anything Pretty blog. She cut hers, mounted them on velcro and stuck them on a canvas. I thought it was brilliant! I didn't have to punch a hole in them, and it seemed like a great way to store them: as decor. It would be one less thing I need to find a place for me in my cluttered sewing room.


So, first things, first. I didn't find a whole lot of great tips for how to do this, so I thought I'd really spell it out. After all, "cut it up" seems like directions, but what's the best way to do that, really?

I don't know if the way I did it is the absolute best way, but it worked well for me.

I started with a dull rotary blade and used my rotary cutter and quilting rulers to cut it. It was hard, I'm not going to lie, and I did it over several days because it put a lot of strain on my hands. But, doing it this way meant that I got really straight cuts, and I imagine it was easier on my hands than scissors! Note that because the swatches aren't all the exact same size, you need to do rows individually. No short cut here--every piece has to be cut out. I cut rows the width they would end up (a fraction below the name) and then cut the strips into pieces.

Next, I bought rolls of velcro with adhesive backs so I wouldn't have to glue. I bought 3/4" wide velcro and I found it at Lowe's. Again, I think "stick velcro on the backs" isn't very helpful, so here's exactly what I did. I tried peeling the velcro and then cutting it, but this gummed up my scissors a lot faster than when I cut the velcro in pieces with the plastic still on. So, do that. I found that it was easier to keep the velcro from tangling up by separating the two sides of velcro, which come next to each other on the same piece of plastic. Cutting it apart was pretty quick, and then you can set aside the half you're not working with. And, I elected, like Anything Pretty, to put the loop side on the back of the color card pieces so that if I put them on fabric I won't risk the hook side snagging my fabric.


Last was the trickiest part for me: applying the velcro strips to the canvas. I cut a tiny bit off and stuck it to the back to test the adhesive, which seemed pretty strong to me while I was putting it on the color swatches, but the next morning, it pulled right off. This very likely might have been due to the face that I used a tiny piece, but I wasn't wiling to risk it after all the work I went to since I reasoned it could be due to the uneven and flexible surface of the canvas. So, even though the velcro had adhesive on it, I used glue, too. I didn't want the strips to peel off when I pulled color chips off.

I bought a 24x36 canvas from Joann's when canvases were 50% off. It still ended up being $25--this is not a cheap project! I used blue painter's tape to create a 1" border around the canvas to keep my strips even, and then I marked my strips with pencil and my 6"x24" quilting ruler to make sure they were evenly spaced and level. Make sure you use a light pencil line--after I glued down a few strips, I went back and erased the lines so they were fainter because you can see the pencil through the velcro. I spaced the lines apart by 2", so the strips are closer than that since the swatches are over an inch tall.

I started by finding the middle line and then measuring out from there--you'll need 13 lines total. And for the glue, I used E600. So far, it's holding well! I found a package of single use tubes at Target of all places, and bought that even though I had a large tube at home. My large tube was several years old and I knew it would be difficult to squeeze it out evenly.


After glueing the velcro down, I spent a bunch of time sorting the color swatches, but that part was fun, as I'm sure you can imagine!


I'm really happy with how this project turned out! I love that it's a prominent piece in my room and that I can see it all the time. I love playing with the color chips and picking out new color combinations. It worked out really well, and if you're looking for a way to cut up your card, I'd definitely recommend it!