Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Vintage Holiday Quilt

Last year, I joined a quilt along that Chrissy at Sew Lux hosted on Instagram for the Vintage Holiday pattern. I think I was one of the only ones to jump in, but I'm glad I did! The pattern goes together really quickly, which was just what I needed with two babies!


I knew I wouldn't have it ready for Christmas because I do NOT quilt my own quilts unless they're mini quilts. So I wasn't really stressed about it, and it was a fun pattern to put together. I pulled out my cherished Sweetwater Christmas stash (I even have a few pieces left from the first line, Countdown to Christmas!) and mixed in a few scraps from Kate Spain's Christmas lines and a Cotton and Steel print, and I had a great time picking fabrics for individual ornaments. 


I thought about using a low volume snowflake print for the background, but was concerned it would be too busy and opted instead to use just white. And I luckily had enough yardage from the first Sweetwater line for sashing and the outside border. I wasn't trying to use it up, per se, but, in some ways I regret buying so much (even though I was glad to have it available for this project!). I tend to buy just half yards now which are just perfect for most of my needs, except for sashing/borders. I was glad to be able to use my stash, and I was glad to have a purpose for the yardage I have. So, I didn't have to buy any fabric for this project. I even managed to get the backing out of my yardage. I had a piece of brushed cotton that I had purchased years ago for a Christmas quilt I had started but had never finished. I didn't purchase much because I didn't know how much you needed for backings, but I was able to get it to work with a whopping 12"x2" piece left. Yay!


I'm also glad to have gotten it bound (FINALLY) at our neighborhood quilt retreat last weekend. Hooray for friends who sew!

Monday, August 7, 2017

Shimmer Quilt

The twins (and just having 4 kids in general...) have really taken a toll on my sewing time. I still get time, of course, but not nearly as often and not nearly as much. And finding a chunk of an hour or more at a time? Forget about it!

So, since I don't get large chunks of time...I tend to do quicker things. Single blocks for samplers, bags that can be easily broken down into small chunks, etc. Binding did not make the list.

Also, I dislike binding.

So, there you go. :-)

However, I do like completing projects...so when our neighborhood sewing retreat rolled around, I planned to finish up two quilts that had been waiting for bindings since early spring.


MONTHS.

Yikes.

But, I got both of them done and it feels great! I'd hesitated because I really like to get a binding done in one go. It's no fun to drag it out over days. So the retreat was the perfect opportunity.

The first one is this Shimmer quilt (pattern by Cluck Cluck Sew). I used this photo that I took a few years ago up Provo Canyon for color inspiration, and it's really unlike any color scheme I've done before. It's my "autumn quilt." And I think I'll pull it out to rest on my couch during the fall.


Lately, I've sewn my quilts entirely from my stash, and while I still fabric shop a lot (who doesn't love fabric shopping?!), I really love quilting from my stash. Even the background fabric is Hometown by Sweetwater and I had *just* enough. I was worried it would be too busy, but I actually really like it. I even pulled the backing and the binding from my stash, wahoo! The backing was actually a piece of fabric I got from a friend when she moved. She had a closet FULL of fabric (mostly apparel stuff) and didn't want to take it so she put it all out for all of us neighborhood sewists to go through. The backing was pretty thick and tightly woven, and I think it probably had some polyester in it, but it was free and a great color, and if anything, it'll be durable! :-)


Shimmer
quilted by Abby Latimer
completed (finally) August 2017

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Odile's Bag

I have to admit, I feel really cool when I get to announce that I have a French friend. I mean, how many people have international pals? Okay, okay, a lot...but I still feel pretty cool.

I met Odile while on a study abroad to Paris with my university. My university contracted with a local housing company to place students with host families, and Odile happened to rent a room from the same woman I was placed with. At the time, she didn't speak English, and I spoke French very poorly, but we still became friends and have stayed in touch over the past 14 years. I can't believe it's been that long! Wow. We've seen each other a few times since then, I've been back to Paris twice (and last time, she took me down to her family's home in Lyon) and she's been to the US once.


So, it had been a couple of months since I'd heard from her, and I just wondered how she was doing. While I was thinking about her, I decided that I wanted to send her a package. Because who doesn't love getting mail? And mail is even better if it has something exciting inside. But, shipping to France is decidedly not cheap, of course, and so I set out to come up with a gift that would be worth the postage, and decided to sew her something. Now, as any sewist knows, the problem with sewn gifts is that people who don't sew rarely appreciate the work (or the item) and people who do sew may appreciate it, but don't really need you to sew them anything. So, Odile is not a sewist, so I wanted to come up with an idea that anyone would love. I settled on a bag, but I wanted to make sure it was stylish and not cute in the quilters' idea of cute. Does that make sense?


I picked a smallish bag so I would be able to fit it in a small box for shipping, and the pattern is a free pattern from Swoon Patterns. I had made a free Swoon pattern before, and knew the patterns were well written. For the record, I was willing to pay for a pattern, but the Dollie Mini Crossbody was perfect for what I wanted.

This is the back of the bag and it's a pocket.

I started searching for fabrics to use, and found this awesome Cotton and Steel gray with metallic gold print. And I knew it was perfect--it's modern, and fresh, and not quilty. I wanted to use a linen for the main fabric, and had considered a camel/khaki color, but the awesome folks at Hawthorne Threads helped me out with fabric matching and suggested this Essex linen in black with gold metallic thread. It is perfect! I love how it turned out. I also found some Joel Dewberry fabric in green (her favorite colors are green and yellow) and I think it works really well to add a fun element while still being stylish.


I made one change to the pattern to add an interior pocket. I originally planned to stitch down the middle of the pocket to create two pockets but opted against it because the bag is pretty small to start with, about 6-1/2" wide.


Since the fabric had gold metallic in it, I knew I couldn't use my standard chrome hardware and ordered antique brass hardware from Bagmaker Supply on Etsy. They have a good selection, good pricing, and fast shipping!


I really love how it turned out. The magnet is a little strong for the bag, and kinda pulls on the front of the bag when you try to open it, and the flap is a little stiffer due to the heavier linen, so I'm hoping it relaxes a little with use. But I also assume that once it is full of stuff, it'll hold its shape a little better, too! And really, I just hope Odile loves it. She's been a great friend over the years and I hope she enjoys it.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Color Play

I know I'm way late to the solids boat, but I love that solids are so popular and want to use them more often! Of course, it's hard because I also LOVE prints and there are so many adorable ones! However, pure color is so clean and modern. I want to get into it. Last year, I cut up my Kona Card (which you can read about here) and made it into a canvas for my wall, and I recently bought a Moda Match Maker. I bought it on an awesome sale from Fat Quarter Shop (they put the entire shop (excluding sale items) on sale for 20% off! Seriously!) and I combined it with my gift card I purchased in the weeks leading up to Christmas for 20% to get a great deal on it, because, man, those things are pricey!

When I got it, I was overwhelmed. It's not as easy to use I had hoped, and I actually prefer my Kona board for pulling colors, even though the chips are tiny tiny tiny. But I'm looking forward to getting to know it better.

In the meantime, I have this little group of Kona chips that I am just all heart eyes for. It's kinda mid-century modern to me...I may be totally wrong, but that's kinda the vibe I get. I love that it's bright, but not too bright...and the nice gray tones it all down. It's also got a little coastal/tropical vibe thanks to the aptly name Papaya yellow and Caribbean blue.



Now what to do with this group...

Friday, April 28, 2017

Fabric Friday: April 28

This week was rough. No reason in particular, other than just being a mom. I know everyone goes through good times and bad, and sometimes there's not a good reason for either. And this week was a rough one. I think I'm just worn down. The fatigue of being a mom to four kids including twins is real, man. And I can usually pull myself up. I know the work I do as a mom is so important, however exhausting and unrewarding it might feel. But sometimes, I just can't. And it takes a few days. I know we must all go through this to some extent, and I guess I'm just trying to keep it real here. So, sometimes when I have these rough patches, I retreat to my sewing room (after making sure the babies are in safe places, of course!) and a lot of times, I just sit. I should tidy things, as it's really a disaster. With such limited sewing time, I tend to prioritize actual sewing over tidying, but I should tidy. Sometimes, I go through my fabric, reacquainting myself with my stash, and picking new bundles for no project in particular. This is just such a bundle. I'm digging lime green lately. And these low volume prints are just amazing--I love the light gray on the bright white!


This bundle got its start from the Denyse Schmidt print on the bottom. It's been burning a whole in my stash, and I just couldn't figure out a way to use it. I received it in a swap, and while I wanted to like it, I just didn't. Until this bundle, anyway. I love the acidity in the green with the calm blue and the happy pink. The aqua and the white temper all that color and it just makes me happy.

Which is always good in a rough week.


Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Fabric Notebook Cover Tutorial

While I was still pregnant, I did a lot of internet surfing. I was stuck in bed for much of the day because I was so exhausted and uncomfortable, and while I did a lot of non-computer things, too, I needed variety. Or a break for my fingers from hand sewing. While surfing, I spent some time hanging around The Red Headed Hostess's website. She has great resources for religious study, including some great items to purchase. A lot is geared toward Mormons, but much of it could be applied equally well to other religious groups, as well. I was really intrigued by her scripture study packets, but hesitated to purchase for two reasons. I wasn't sure how well I would use it for my studying, and I didn't feel like I needed "pretty" study sheets. So, I created a printed sheet for myself for general conference talk studying that had the sections I thought I would need (inspired by but not identical to hers), and I started a scripture journal following instructions she had on her blog here (scroll to the bottom for a link to a PDF with concise instructions and tips).


I bought a simple composition notebook at Target before school started, and started my journal. But I decided it really needed a cover. I looked around online, especially Pinterest (see note above about internet surfing...) but couldn't find what I was looking for. I wanted it to have a pen pocket and some sort of closure, I was leaning toward an elastic strap rather than a button and loop, but would have taken either. So, I decided to wing it. I measured the book and guessed at a good placement and size for a pen pocket, and went for it. And decided that someone else might like to make one, too, so I thought I'd write up a tutorial. I made my first one out of solids that I had leftover from other projects, as a trial, but I liked it well enough that it's the one I use. I've made one for my sister, one for my mom, one for my daughter, and one for a friend out of cute fabric now that I have the sizing and technique down!

First, you'll need a few materials.

Fabric
  • inside cover 11x24-1/2
  • front cover 11x6-1/4 and 11x16-1/4
  • pocket background 11x2-1/2
  • pocket front 12x2-1/2
elastic 12-1/2" piece of 1/4" elastic
Pellon SF101 fusible interfacing: enough to fuse to the cover pieces and the pocket background

Step one: Fuse the interfacing to the cover pieces and pocket background. I like to fuse a larger piece of interfacing than I need to an even larger piece of fabric so that I can trim it to size. You could use a heavier weight fabric instead, but I like using my quilting cotton stash, so interfacing helps make it a little sturdier. I know some people complain about rippling from interfacing, but I have found that if I press the front of the fabric well after I fuse it that it looks pretty flat. Trim the pieces to the sizes listed above.

Step two: Prepare the pocket. Press the pocket front fabric in half matching the short ends. Using an 1/8" seam allowance, sew the pocket front to the pocket background along the bottom edge (short end) with the raw edges of the pocket front at the bottom. This is technically unnecessary but will help keep the pocket pieces lined up in the next step. (no photos, sorry!)

Step three: Prepare the front cover piece. Using a 1/4" seam allowance and with right sides together, sew the pocket pieces to the front cover pieces so the pocket is to the right of the longer piece.


You'll want to be careful to make sure that the pocket opening is up. Press the cover piece with the seams out from the pocket.




Step four: Pin the covers together and place the elastic. Sandwich the elastic inside the cover and pin it in place with 1/4" extending beyond the edges of the top and bottom of the covers. Pin it 11" away from the inside edge of the pocket.




Step five: Sew the cover together. Using a 3/8" seam allowance and with right sides together, stitch all the way around the outside leaving a 4" opening on one end.



Clip the corners (being careful to not cut the stitches) to reduce bulk.


Turn the cover right side out and push the corners out well. (Note that a 3/8" seam allowance makes for a comfortable cover with a bit of overhang around the notebook. If you would like to fit more snugly, and be more difficult to switch out notebooks, you can use a 1/2" seam allowance but must be careful to make sure it will fit before clipping corners and top-stitching.)


Press the cover well, turning the fabric at the opening in to the same seam allowance. Your cover should be about 10-1/4" tall by 24-1/2" long. If it's shorter than 10-1/8", you won't be able to top-stitch to finish it and have it fit, and 10-1/8" is really pushing it. Ask me how I know.


Step six: Top-stitch the short edges of the cover.

Step seven: Prepare the cover for finishing. Wrap the cover around the notebook you are using and fold the edges over the notebook cover, making sure they are as even as possible. Check on pocket placement and elastic placement. When you are satisfied, pin the edge and remove the cover. Repin the cover through the middle of the cover pockets.


Step eight: Top-stitch the cover closed. Being careful to catch both edges of the cover at the ends, top-stitch along the long edges of the cover only. Do NOT topstitch along the short edges. Carefully sew near the elastic, ensuring that you do not top-stitch through the elastic by holding it out of the way of the needle.



Clip your threads and wrap your notebook with your new cover! The notebooks that I bought were quite flimsy and I found they benefited from slipping in a piece of cardboard cut to size. I slipped mine in right behind the notebook.



These make fantastic and quick gifts. Who couldn't use more notebooks?

Friday, March 17, 2017

Samplers

What is it about samplers? They are intriguing but can seem outdated at the same time. I tend to think of traditional samplers as so old-fashioned, and even the term sampler just feels uncool in my mouth. But really, they're such an integral part of the quilting culture. Many quilters get their starts in samplers; I know I did. The first quilt block I ever sewed was part of a neighborhood sampler (I never finished it, consequently), and the block of the month program at a local quilt shop is what really got me started in earnest.

The first Saturday Sampler I did at American Quilting, my local quilt shop

What's not to love, right? It's so satisfying to finish a block, to pick individual fabrics for a block, to have a stack of interesting and different blocks. Sewing a single block is much less time commitment than an entire quilt and can be much less overwhelming. It gives you the opportunity to make a variety without getting burned out on a single technique or block pattern.

The second Saturday Sampler I did at American Quilting

Of course, samplers aren't always amazing. When you are just aimlessly sewing blocks, when do you stop? And not all samplers look cohesive, especially if the blocks aren't all designed by the same designer or in the same style or if the quilter doesn't pick a cohesive color scheme. Sometimes you don't really need a theme or style, but they can quickly turn disjointed without one. And then there are decisions to be made about settings...

A mini sampler I made for the Mini Challenge group on Flickr

It's a mixed bag, of course. But samplers seem to be a big thing right now, and are experiencing a wave of popularity (not that they're ever really unpopular) with many sampler sew alongs going on online. I haven't truly participated in any, but I have dutifully downloaded blocks just in case. Last year there was Moda's Sampler Shuffle and The Splendid Sampler, and Gnome Angel hosts lots of quilt alongs, including a 100 blocks in 100 days sew along using Tula Pink's sampler book, Farmer's Wife, and now a Long Time Gone quilt. There are block of the month programs that various bloggers do annually: Amy Gibson (who also just released a sampler book), Meadow Mist Designs, and the Fat Quarter Shop's annual fundraising block of the month. And many others, I'm sure. Clearly, we quilters love samplers. And sew alongs.

I started yet another sampler project recently. I currently have a few in progress. The first one is one I've really abandoned: a Vintage Quilt Revival sampler in solids. I have 5 or 6 blocks that have really been abandoned, and that's okay. I don't really consider it a WIP because I'm not sure I'll come back to it. It's okay. (Even though I've abandoned the sampler project, it's a really great book and I've made 3 or 4 projects from it.)


The second is the Mode Sampler Shuffle, which I've really renamed in my head as my six-inch sampler. I finished the 30 sampler shuffle blocks and now intend to supplement with more blocks from the same patterns or from the Splendid Sampler project. I've taken a break from it to work on other things, intending to come back to it with fresh eyes and new ideas.


I also started the Patchwork City Sampler and I'm sewing it up as a travel quilt with travel prints from favorite destinations. But, a few weeks ago, I paused all the things I was working on (except for my leaders and enders project) to work on yet another sampler project.

The Chip mini is obviously not part of the sampler... ;-) The 7 blocks are from Patchwork City
Sweetwater (my favorite design team) hosted a contest from Moda during their 12 months 12 contests promotion. The Sweetwater designers decided to host a contest on Instagram for making six-inch blocks in their fabric. Of course, I jumped in! And after a few blocks, decided that I wanted to make a lot of blocks (I really wanted to win!) and that I would work towards two sampler projects. One Christmas table runner (I have a lot of Sweetwater Christmas fabric and just love it) and a Sweetwater sampler quilt. 


My goal became one block per day (I reasoned in my head that this would probably put me close to 10% of the blocks) and would give me a decent shot, plus it would mean I'd have a decent number of blocks for a sampler. I hoped I would get more than that done, but I thought about 30 would be doable. I blew that out of the water and ended up with 40, including 8 Christmas blocks.

Here are some of my favorites. They said on their blog they would be looking at creativity and use of fabric. I thought I got some pretty creative ones! And I made it a personal goal to use as many different fabric lines as possible, and to mix them as much as possible in each block.



This is my winning block! Funny story: when I finished it, I told my husband that it was my winner. I knew it could win, and I was pleased to be right. There were a lot I thought could win, including the house ones above that I think are pretty creative. But I knew this one was awesome.


I thought this was my most creative block: It's a cross section of a neighborhood--can you see it?




I also thought this one had a good shot. It's from The Splendid Sampler.


This is one I saw on Instagram over a year ago and have wanted to make it ever since. I think I pieced it differently than whoever originally made it, and I like how it worked out.


I can't even say how excited I was to win! And I really love that I have a really good stack of blocks, waiting to be made into a project. Of course, I'm taking a bit of a break from six inch blocks...


What's funny is I'm not really enamored by sampler quilts. I've sure enjoyed making these, though. And I hope I actually finish them! Also--confession time--I'm really considering starting the block of the month on the Bernina blog. I just can't help myself. It's a beautiful quilt!