Friday, August 9, 2019

Northern Lights Quilt

This has been quite a summer. A year and a half, really. But that's not really why you're here, is it? The last weekend of June, we moved into a brand-new house. We spent the previous year looking for lots or homes, and planning a floorplan, and watching our builder build our dream home. Finally it was finished and we moved in! And two weeks later, we left for a trip to France. I have a French friend, and she was recently married and invited us to her wedding! She said to bring our girls, but I made the executive decision to take only the two older girls, ages 9 and 6, and we left our twins, who are almost 3, home. I couldn't imagine a 10 hour flight with them, let alone the jet lag and physical demand of European travel with two toddlers. One might have been doable. But not two.

Of course, a wedding calls for a quilt! I thought long and hard about a quilt pattern. I'm a little self-conscious about giving quilts as gifts to non-sewists because I'm not sure a patchwork look would be well-appreciated by everyone. So, I looked for modern patterns and modern fabrics that she would more likely be thrilled to actually use in her apartment. I settled on Jaybird's Northern Lights quilt pattern and a selection of solids selected from my Moda color swatch deck. The only problem I had was getting the pattern and the necessary ruler; I wish that Julie sold her patterns and rulers at her website. I bought the fabric through Fat Quarter Shop, but they didn't sell the pattern AND the ruler, only one, so I still had to buy the other elsewhere. I get it: I wouldn't want to manage an online shop. But still, with the patterns requiring a specialty ruler, it would be nice if I could have purchased both at the same source.

Onto the quilt, though! The instructions were great and the ruler made the cutting go pretty quickly. I opted to add an additional color and a couple of rows to make the quilt larger than the throw size she listed.

I knew my friend liked green and yellow, so I opted to start the spectrum with an orangey yellow and go to purple. I really love how it turned out and I hope she does, too! I made sure to back it with pinky so it's nice and snuggly.

The trip was great. I'd never met her now-husband, and he seems so amazing. I am so happy for her! And the girls did great on the trip. We started in Annecy so we could relax by the lake for a couple days while we recovered from the long flight and jet lag, and then we went to Lyon. She got married at city hall in Grenoble on a Friday and the next day she had a reception at her mother's home in the Beaujolais valley. The reception, as you can imagine, was stunning, despite a torrential rainstorm. On Sunday, we took a train to Paris before flying home on Thursday. It was just long enough, and we did some really fun things. The girls want to go back, so that's a win as far as I'm concerned!

And the bonus is that I have *just* enough fabric left to sew up a mini version of the quilt. I think. Julie has a mini version pattern, but with the ruler, I think I can wing it. So we'll see. Hopefully, you'll see a post of a mini Northern Lights quilt before too long.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Hopscotch Outfits

My One Monthly Goal for May was to complete the Hopscotch outfits for my girls and I did it! This pattern was designed by Oliver and S and I love it. I've made the shirts three times now (well, six since I have two big girls I've sewn for), but this was the first time I sewed the skirt. The shirt goes together so quickly and my girls just love it. It's comfy for them, and I added several inches to the length so it's nice and long for my tall girls.

The skirt was a little trickier than the shirt, but I got it figured out. The trickiest part was the pockets. Liesl called them origami pockets and they were for sure like origami! I eventually got them and my five year old LOVES them. She loads them up with all sorts of things, and walks around with her hands in her pockets. I didn't do well with the button hole placement. I wish I had bumped over the top button hole, but I followed the button placement pattern that was included. I might add a hidden hook and eye to keep it closed a little tighter.

I do think the fabrics are so cute. I love how these outfits turned out and I really love so much how much my daughters love them. Especially my five year old. I was worried since it's not pink...and the yellow is not a color my kids would just pick, but it matches perfectly and I'm glad they're down with it. It's an Art Gallery Fabric knit and it's a really great blend and weight with a great drape. It's smooth and just stretchy enough, and I want a shirt made from it, too. Luckily, I have plenty left. I bought enough corduroy and knit to make Hopscotch outfits for my big girls and jumpers and shirts for my twins, but I'm thinking I'd rather skip the twins' outfits and make myself a pencil skirt and a shirt. We'll see.

As far as my other goals, here's how I did.
  • Sew a shirt for myself: this didn't happen. I was sick the first week in May, and the second week I sewed these outfits, and then my daughter got the flu right in the middle of end of year festivities, and then a week later, I got sick again, this time with pneumonia (along with my 5-year-old), and that took me through the end of the month. It was a really rough month in our house.
  • Black and White Quilt: I did get this started. I got all my fabric cut out, and I started sewing the pieces, yay!
  • Camping Trip Progress: We've gotten some progress made, but haven't purchased everything we need.
  • Summer Break: I've gotten these planned out, but we'll see how well they go! 
  • Exercise 3 times a week: I tried. But, all the sickness. *sigh*

Friday, May 11, 2018

Venice Wallflowers Quilt

I've worked for a couple years now on a Patchwork City Sampler quilt. I've been using travel-themed fabrics related to my favorite travels, because I thought it would make the quilt really special, and I'm pleased with how it's coming along. Of course, it's meant that I've purchased loads of novelty travel prints (which isn't all that disappointing, let's be honest!), but it has been pricey. When Kate Spain's Grand Canal line came out, I knew I needed to include the grand canal print. We visited Venice on our 10 year anniversary trip to Italy, and it's a beautiful city. Unfortunately, none of my local shops carried it, and by the time I had decided which print to purchase, the only place it was available was on, where you must purchase a full yard. Normally, I purchase just a half-yard, particularly for a project like this where I'll need very little. But, I wasn't confident that a precut would have a good piece for my purposes, so I bought the yard. And since I did, I had enough left to do some fun things with! I made my sister a notebook cover, and then schemed on a way to use the rest for a fun quilt project. It took me quite a while to pick a pattern that would show off the print adequately, but I finally settled on Allison Harris's Wallflowers quilt. It was quite similar to the Shimmer pattern which I've already made and thoroughly enjoyed, so I had great confidence in this one as well.

It did not let me down! It went together surprisingly quickly, although I took a brief hiatus to make a baby quilt for a friend. And it showed off the print well. I'm so excited about this.

It's a queen sized quilt, which is the largest I've ever made. I thought about making it even larger by adding 10" borders to make it officially king sized, so that I could use it on my bed. But, as I looked at it, it's not a quilt I want on my bed. It's got a bunch of pink in it and that feels funny for a bed to me.

I haven't gotten it quilted yet. My stack of quilts to be quilted is steadily growing...hopefully I'll get them all off to be quilted soon. 

Friday, May 4, 2018

Argyle Medallion

I'm so excited to show you my finished Argyle Medallion quilt! This quilt is an accomplishment for me. First, it's my first scrap-only quilt. I did cheat just a little and pulled a few low volume cuts for the flying geese because I didn't have enough scraps that were big enough, and I bought the background fabric, but everything else was scraps. The backing is a cut of fabric I got from a friend when she moved, so I didn't even have to purchase that. I love seeing scraps from other projects all over this quilt. And second, I made this quilt entirely as a leaders and enders project, my first one. I've sewn with leaders and enders before, but I've never made an entire quilt as a leaders and enders project. The only times I didn't use it as a leaders and enders project is the topstitching on centers on the Dresdens, and assembling the quilt. What's funny is it didn't even take as long as I expected. It took months, for sure. But I finished it much more quickly than I expected since it was a "bonus" project, and a big project at that: it finished at 80 inches. (So big shout out to my awesome husband for holding up this HEAVY quilt for me to take pictures!)

When I finished it, I decided to get it custom quilted. This pattern is from the Scraps, Inc. Vol 2 book, and the quilting on the original was stunning. And I decided I wanted a similar style on mine. I emailed the original quilter, but her turnaround was 6 months or more and I would have had to mail it, which I don't like doing. So, I emailed a more local custom quilter and asked if she would be okay with using the pictures as inspiration (that it didn't have to be identical but I loved the feeling and style so similar). She agreed and I took it down. She had it for about 4 months, and I definitely got anxious to see it but it was worth the wait. She did an amazing job and I love it!

When it came to binding, I decided to try using my binding scraps. But, the tricky part was that they weren't all the same width. I used to use the standard 2-1/2" strips, but I switched a couple years ago to 2" because I get better results. So, I had to sort out which were the right widths before I sewed them together. Luckily, I had more than enough 2" strips that I didn't have to trim any of the other ones. But I'm happy with how the binding turned out, I think it's fun!

Anyway, I'm pretty excited about this quilt. It was a great experience! And since it was so great, I started another scrap quilt (from Volume 1, this time) as a leaders and enders project. So fun to use up these scraps!

Argyle Medallion
Pieced by me
Pattern by Erin Burke Harris from Scraps, Inc. Volume 2
Quilted by Marion McClellan
Completed April 2018

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

May One Monthly Goal

Last month was a great month for sewing. I'm not sure what changed, really. But, I've been able to dedicate a lot of my babies' nap times to sewing and it's been great. I did accomplish my ONE monthly goal to finish the baby quilt for my friend and I gifted that to her at her shower. See the last post for pictures of the quilt. I also laid out some other goals that I wanted to accomplish and I'm happy to say I got all of them done! I not only finished four of the blocks for my Venice Wallflowers quilt, I got all of them done and assembled it. I not only prepared the the pattern and fabric for my Butterick 6411 dress, I finished it (and should have made it one size smaller, since I had to take in the sides quite a bit...). I bound my triangle quilt (pictures in a few months) and got photos taken so I can submit it to a competition. And for personal goals, we did some fun things for spring break. We went to the library, we did some art projects, and the girls got to play with some friends. And, I haven't entirely planned out a little summer camping trip, but we're on our way. We've got a camp site reserved in July at Capitol Reef. We need to figure out what supplies we need to purchase now that our family is bigger.

SO, last month was great, and I hope this month is as productive. I've been thinking a lot about what I want to accomplish and what I MOST want to accomplish and I think I've narrowed it down well.

My ONE monthly goal is to make my girls their Hopscotch outfits (pattern by Oliver and S). I've sewn them each two Hopscotch shirts (see the above photo for one), but I haven't made skirts yet and I have the most darling fabric to use. I ordered a fun corduroy by Cloud 9 from Hawthorne Threads for the skirt and it's blue with bold white geometric flowers and yellow centers, and some mustard yellow knit by Art Gallery Fabrics for the top. I have the pattern pieces all prepped, so I just need to prep my fabric and go for it. The skirt has buttons down the front, and I've never done a button hole for real (just the practice ones in the machine class when I bought my machine) so it'll be a stretch for me!

Here's a short list of some other goals.
  • Sew a shirt for myself from a McCall pattern I have. I've sewn two from this pattern already and I like the fit. The first time I made it I didn't make any adjustments and the neckline is a little low for me. The second time, I made a long-sleeved version and the fabric wasn't quite right, but I altered the neckline to a great spot. I want another short sleeved version so I want to make it from the red Birch plus sign knit I bought last year.
  • Select a pattern and start cutting out a black and white quilt for my husband. He's wanted a black and white quilt for years and it's never been a big priority for me but I've slowly collected black fabrics for him. I think I've got the pattern picked out (Inside Out by Cluck Cluck Sew), so I've just got to make up my mind and go for it!
  • Make some progress towards the camping trip for the summer.
  • Get summer break schedules and goals worked out for the girls. It's coming so fast! I've got some ideas floating but need to finalize rewards and specifics.
  • Keep exercising 3 times a week. I was pretty good last month and I want to continue and hopefully feel better and get stronger.
I'm linking up to Elm Street's One Monthly Goal.

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.