Monday, November 30, 2015

Mini Mania November Challenge: Churn Dash

I missed out on the Mini Mania challenge last month for a couple of semi-decent reasons, so I was really glad to be able to get back to the challenge! The challenge this month was churn dash blocks. Nine specifically, with a produced mini no larger than 20 inches. I spent a couple days thinking of some fresh modern ways I could do this great block and had settled on a multi-colored scrappy arrangement until I remembered I had some half-square-triangles already stitched together that I had cut off from a different project, and they ended up being just the right size.

As a side note, do you ever take the time to do the extra stitches when you sew corners so you end up with pre-sewn HSTs? I often forget, but I feel less wasteful when I remember. Since triangles/snowball corners are often made with squares, and then trimming the squares down to triangles after diagonal sewing lines are sewn, I like to save the scraps by sewing a second line 1/2" away from my stitched line. It takes a good bit of time, to be sure, but at least those cut offs don't end up in the trash (since I've found triangles are much harder scraps to use). And now I can say I've actually used some!

These HSTs came from a secret sewing project that I'm really excited about. It just might be appearing in a publication in coming months. *squee!* {Hopefully} more on that in a few months.

While it did take longer to use scraps for this project than to just cut from larger leftover cuts in my scrap bags (including the white!!), I am glad I could use up some smaller pieces. And once I'd found everything, the blocks and mini went together so fast.

For the quilting, I tested out a few different colors, but because there is a variety of blues, white worked the best. Even though I didn't actually do any quilting on any of the white pieces. I didn't quilt on the white pieces deliberately, anyway... :-)

I really love how it turned out with just the navy prints.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Infinity Scarf {tutorial}

About a month ago, I was in a local quilt shop, and they had double gauze infinity scarf kits. They were only $12, which was a little steep for the fabric itself (Cotton and Steel, retails for $21/yd), but they included instructions, and $12 isn't bad for a scarf, so I bought one. I made it, and it went together pretty quickly, even though I had to alter the directions for my own purposes. First, the directions were serger specific, something the display and packaging did not mention, and I don't have a serger. Second, the instructions were designed for fabric that is reversible, which the one in the kit wasn't, actually. It was one of the darling prints. It worked out, and it really wasn't that hard to alter.

So, fast-forward a couple weeks and I was back in the same shop, and they were having a pre-Thanksgiving sale. The kits were 50%, which made them $6. Now that I had actually made one, and I knew the kit contained 1/2 yard of fabric, I recognized that $6 wasn't a bad price! So I picked up a couple of kits, in two different solid colors this time, and planned to make one for me and one as a gift for Christmas.

And, since it went together so quickly, I thought you all might like a quick little tutorial in case you are in need of a Christmas gift. One thing I really love about mine is that it's really soft and warm. My neck gets irritated if the scarf isn't super soft, but the double gauze is really great. 

Oh, and lest you think I'm ripping off a pattern written by someone else, this is instructions for what I did. On a sewing machine. The instructions really were all for serging, and frankly, I didn't even know what some of the words meant. So, it's based on a kit, but my instructions below in no way resemble the included instructions. :-) Also--please forgive the terrible lighting on the progress photos--I mostly sew at night and the lighting in my sewing room is atrocious. I assure you all the pictures are of the same fabric, however different the colors look. ;-)

So, first things first. For one scarf, you'll need 1/2 yard of double gauze. Cut it into 2 strips, 9" by WOF (width of fabric).

Sew the two pieces together (using a 1/4" seam allowance) on both the short ends to create a tube. If your fabric has a right side, you'll want to do it with the wrong sides together.

We're going to make those two seams French seams. So, turn the tube inside out. Working with one seam at a time, fold the seam so the seam is inside and the sewn edge is nice and flat on the edge. You want to be careful to make sure it's nice and even, or it will end up a little skewed like my first seam. Sew a heavy 1/4" seam allowance so the raw edge is enclosed. Repeat on the other seam. 

Next, we want to stitch that seam down so it stays nice and flat when you wear your scarf. If you have a topstitching foot (Bernina #10 or equivalent for your machine), now is a great time to use it.

You'll want to stitch the seam down as close to the edge of the seam as you dare.

The stitched down French seam from the wrong side.

The stitched down French seam from the right side of the scarf.
The last step is to hem the edges. If you're fancy, you can measure and press and pin. I'm lazy.

I folded it under as I sewed. You can make this is as narrow as you like, mine is a heavy 1/4" hem.

That's it! Clip your threads and call it good. Again, if you're fancy, you can iron out any folds, but I figured it's just going to get more fold lines as it waits to be opened. Yep, I'm classy. :-)

I hope this helps! The first scarf took me close to an hour to make, but I think the second one really only took just over half an hour. Really not bad for a very useful gift!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Fabric Friday: November 20

Yay for Friday! This week has flown by. Yesterday, I got to go to a baking class with a good friend to learn to make macarons...we had a great time, and it seemed so simple. Considering I've made them 3 times with varying amounts of success, this was both annoying, but relieving. This instructor, Caroline, uses an Italian Meringue method instead of a French Meringue method, and maybe that's why. Italian sounds more complicated, but maybe it makes it easier to be successful. It was great, and we brought back a whole box of macarons to enjoy. Yum!

Today, I have been madly sewing up a heart quilt (actually two...) so I can hopefully get it to Abby Latimer this weekend to quilt before Christmas. It's not actually a Christmas gift, but it's for my sister-in-law and we may be visiting her after Christmas, and I'd love to be able to deliver it in person instead of mailing it. I just have to figure out the backing now. :-)

So, with all the sewing I need to do today, I wasn't sure I'd have time to pull out a fabric bundle for today, but I did! And here it is. I don't have a lot of purple in my stash, but today I was really drawn to these two. I didn't buy them together, but I'm really impressed at how closely they match. The green, the purple, they're almost the same colors. So I was able to easily and quickly pull out some coordinated prints from the other colors, and voila! A bundle.

From top to bottom: Madison by Michael Miller, Rhoda Ruth by Elizabeth Hartman, (no selvage...), Meadowbloom by April Rosenthal, Reel Time by Zen Chic, and Basics by Alison Lindthardt.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Gift Ideas 2015

My husband has been hinting that he'd like some ideas of things I might like for Christmas, and it's really hard sometimes to think of things. I bet you have significant others that are looking for ideas, too. Or, maybe you need ideas of what to get a friend. So, here's a list of some things that I have and love. Feel free to forward the link to loved ones who might need a nudge. :-)

Number 1: An amazing ruler. I have been slowly collecting creative grids rulers in a variety of sizes since discovering them through the Saturday Sampler I did at American Quilting. They aren't really any more expensive than the Omnigrid ones you can buy at Joann's, but you don't get to use 40% off coupons to buy them...Every time there has been a sale, 20% or more, at my local shop, I buy a ruler. I love that they have the 1/2 inch markings on one side, the 45 degree marks, and non-slip gripping on the back of the ruler. It makes such a difference for accurate cutting! I accidentally broke my 6x24 ruler last year, and I bought a Creative Grid to replace it. It's actually 6 1/2 x 24 1/2, and I couldn't believe the difference the non-slip gripping made.

Number 2: Aveeno Eczema Therapy Moisturizing Cream. This doesn't sound like it's awesome, but it's a really great lotion. I live in Utah, which is dry, and the winters are sometimes harsh. I fortunately don't suffer from extremely dry skin or eczema (but my girls do!), but with all the hand-washing that happens with kids and cold-season, I can definitely benefit from a good lotion. My daughters' pediatrician suggested this when we had a nasty eczema outbreak with my oldest daughter, and in the past four months since we started using it, we have finished off 3 tubes. It's not greasy, it is unscented (it won't clash with any perfumes you are wearing!), and it does a fantastic job of moisturizing. A great stocking stuffer.

Number 3: An America's Test Kitchen Cookbook. I pick up their magazines and special issue publications off the shelf at Sam's Club, so I've tried a lot of their recipes. I wish they didn't have so many repeats, BUT, some of the books I can highly recommend. The Best Simple Recipe (I have the two special pubs that are excerpted from this book and almost everything is fantastic, especially the skillet chicken tikka masala) The How Can It Be Gluten Free Cookbook (I have this book and everything I've baked has been great, including an awesome pie crust, multigrain bread, and chocolate chip cookies, and I'm hoping the second edition winds up under my own tree!), and Slow Cooker Revolution (not all the recipes are quick, but they've been great. I also a subsequent edition of Healthy Slow Cooker Revolution and it's also really good. There are fewer that I'm interested in trying, but some are very good, including a shredded beef taco recipe).

Number 4: A Thermapen instant read thermometer. Buy this only if your significant other loves cooking and you want to splurge. I received this for my birthday and wasn't expecting to be as impressed with it as I was, but it is amazingly fast.

Number 5: Something handmade. If you're a sewist, something handmade will ALWAYS be appreciated by another sewist. A couple of years ago, a friend gave me this zippered pouch and I love it. I love her embroidery design, and it's a handy-dandy size. It was perfect to take out of town when I had some hand-embroidering to do; I slipped in my small scissors, a spare needle, and my embroidery floss. Small pouches like this go together so quickly, as do hot pads and other nifty little things like a camera neck strap cover I made from a tutorial at Cluck Cluck Sew.

Number 6: Pins. Any kind will do, pins are always getting dull or bent, lost or lent. I bought some Little House pins after reading about them on several blogs, and I'm glad I did; they are slick as anything. But they're not cheap. I picked up my set of 100 with a tin for $8 after a 20% sale, but I picked up 100 flat-head butterfly pins at Joann's for around $2. They aren't nearly as sharp, though, and I should throw them away since I never use them. Sharp pins are definitely advantageous. (And, if you choose to pick up some notions, use caution when shopping at Joann's. Not all are worth buying, even if they are cheaper than their quilt shop counterparts.).

Number 7: A few fat quarters. If you are sewing buddies, it can be fun to get a few fat quarters. A friend gave me some half-yard cuts for my birthday one year, and I loved it. They aren't fabrics I would have picked out myself, but they're really pretty and that's part of the fun. They added something different to my stash and I've used them in a couple of projects already. They expanded my own view of fabric shopping. If you have completely opposite taste, you might want to pick something else, though... :-)

Number 8: A quilting book. I don't often buy quilting books for myself, but I got a couple for Christmas last year: Vintage Quilt Revival, A Quilter's Mixology, and Scraps, Inc. Vol. 1. I am notorious for checking my favorite quilting books out of the library constantly. I love Quilting Modern by Jacque Gering and Katie Pederson, Camille Roskelley's books, and Allison Harris's Growing Up Modern. Newer ones I have my eye on are Wanderlust Quilts by Amanda Leins, Quilt Local by Heather Jones, and Quilts du Jour by Marney Buck and Jill Guffy.

Number 9: Reusable shopping bags large enough for carting materials for a project to a sewing night. These can be handmade or purchased, but as long as they are sturdy and big enough, they'll be appreciated. I feel like I'm always scrambling for an appropriate sized bag for my notions and materials.

Number 10: A Silhouette Cameo. This would be a total splurge, but I got mine during a Black Friday sale for Christmas, and it was not a bad price. Also, they do sell them on Amazon. I love that I can cut out intricate pieces or letters for applique. You do have to use fusible interfacing with it to help keep the cut clean and the machine clean, but I always use fusible anyway, so this isn't a problem for me. I've used it for several projects, including my Around the World Craft Swap package, the Harry Potter mini quilt I made for my friend, and my Monster's Inc mini quilt, and that doesn't include any of the other non-sewing projects I've used it for. I don't use it as often as I thought I would, but still consider it a good purchase.

Number 11: A magazine subscription. There are several quilting magazines I would love to subscribe to, but just can't justify it for myself. If it were a gift, though...Some ideas include Love Patchwork and Quilting, and Quilt Now.

Number 12: Clover clips. These are really popular for a reason, and if your special someone doesn't have any, or doesn't have a big box, you might consider it. They are available at most local quilt shops, but I picked mine up at Joann's on 40% sale + 20% your total purchase coupon, which made them extremely affordable. However, if you're looking for something a little smaller, a handful or a small package is also great.

Number 13: High quality notions. I've mentioned a few already, but really. Any high quality notion that is useful will be appreciated. I bought a Clover seam ripper once, not realizing that it was such a good one. When I broke it just before my birthday, I requested a new one and even specified Clover brand. My husband bought the most expensive one at Joann's, a Dritz with a huge "ergonomic" handle, using a coupon, and it just wasn't the same. I tried, since it was a gift from my daughter, but I ended up returning it and buying a Clover one at my local quilt shop. It made such a difference--it was sharper and thinner, and made unpicking a lot easier and doesn't damage the fabric. And it made me feel only a little badly about returning a gift. ;-) If you don't know what to get, talk to the ladies at a local quilt shop. They'll guide you to their favorite notions.

Number 14: This is totally on my wish list--Electric Quilt 7. Now that I'm designing more of my own quilts, I would LOVE to try out this program. I've read such great things, and I think it would make it easier for me to figure out my ideas.

Number 15: A sketchbook. Moleskein makes some really nice ones and they have a variety of sizes and paper. I prefer notebooks that have grids so that I can more easily draft blocks, but get the kind your friend likes. I picked up this very cool notebook in Florence. I love the quilty design on the cover, and inside it's a dot grid, so I can use it for a variety of purposes. Usually, though, I use Moleskein ones with plain, brown covers and regular graph paper inside. Sometimes my daughters draw on them to spruce them up, or I sew scraps on them.

I hope that helps this season!

Obligatory Disclosure Note: I am not an affiliate of anything, these are not affiliate links, and no one has asked me to write about these things. I came up with this list on my own. :-)

Friday, November 13, 2015

Fabric Friday: November 13

It's been a week, hasn't it? We went to San Francisco and left our girls with my mom last Thursday, but left her with sick kids. Unfortunately, the stars made sure we got to deal with sick kids too, and they have remained sick this week. My oldest vomited the night before we left, and while they were both super whiney all weekend, they didn't get sick again until we were home. My youngest vomited Tuesday night and Wednesday night, and we're hoping she's done. Cleaning up vomit at 3 in the morning is awful. Of course, I shouldn't really talk since my saint-of-a-husband has been the one to clean up the majority of it...bless him.

San Francisco was wonderful--sunny, warmer than it was here in Utah, and so delicious.

And this week, I've been overwhelmed with the sudden realization of ALL THE THINGS. I keep adding projects to my mental to do list and finally sat down to write everything I need and want to do and their projected due dates, and, just whoa. Christmas is coming up fast, folks.

Fabric, though, makes things feel better, doesn't it?

Yeah, fabric. This week's bundle was started with the three fabrics one up from the bottom. The houndstooth down to the blueish-purplish one. Some of you may remember that I'm in a Flickr Mini Challenge group, and last month the challenge was appliqué and it had to include the color orange. I wasn't thrilled with the appliqué thing...I don't do hand-applique, and I didn't have any bright ideas. I do actually like machine appliqué...I use my Silhouette Cameo to cut things out and then iron them on before top-stitching. I just didn't have any ideas. Especially with orange. So, I went to my stash and looked for orange...and I do have orange fabrics, but I wasn't really feeling the pumpkin thing, and looked for fabrics with minimal orange. And if you look closely, squint even, that blueish-purplish Cotton and Steel print has just enough orange. I pulled the other two and thought I might actually get around to something...but never did. C'est la vie.

So this stack was born! I love the softness of it and think it would make a great baby quilt that's not too babyish. From top to bottom: Netorious by Cotton and Steel, Wallflower by Allison Harris, A Beautiful Thing by Zoe Pearn, Modern Minis by Lori Holt, Trendsetter by Fancy Pants Designs, Circle Dots by Riley Blake, Homebody by Cotton and Steel, and Hazel by Allison Harris.

Happy weekend! I'm hoping to get some solid sewing time in...

Friday, November 6, 2015

Fabric Friday: November 6

I love autumn. I think it all really started when I studied abroad with my university in Paris. I went for Fall semester, and I think it was there that I realized how much I really love the season. The crisp air, the getting-cool weather when it's still warm enough to be outside but not so hot, the beautiful leaves, the clear air, the color. I just love it. It's also a time for new beginnings. I spent so many years in and around academia, that fall is, for me, really the start of a new year. My birthday also falls in mid-September, so it's almost like a kick-off celebration. :-)

Paris, Fall 2013
Capitol Reef National Park, 2014
Fall is so inspiring for me artistically, too. Some of my favorite photos are from the fall season. I'm so drawn to the colors. They're dramatic. It's like the sunlight actually acts differently during the fall; it's not so sharp and glaring. Which makes for beautiful colors. I might be making that up, but that's what it seems to me.
South Fork Road, Provo Canyon, Fall 2014

central Utah, 2013

One of my favorite photos I think might not actually have been during the fall; I can't remember when I took it. But the coloring is the same coloring I've been enjoying here in Utah lately. Partly stormy skies with brooding, gray clouds, clear blue skies yielding bright colors, bright green grass and bushes that haven't quite gotten the memo, brown from exposed trees that have lost their leaves, and gold, orange, and yellow leaves.

South Fork Road, Provo Canyon, Fall 2014
Provo Canyon, Fall 2014
Yeah. Fall. Love.

So, the other day as I was driving my daughter to school, I was just in awe of the beautiful colors I get every day, and finally made a mental note to go home and pull a bundle. I started pulling fabric, and pulled fabric, and pulled fabric until I had quite a stack. Or, rather, stacks. :-) It's really almost the whole rainbow, which I was trying really hard not to do, but fall is a rainbow, really. And it doesn't look too much like a rainbow without a lot of red, or purple at all, so I think it's okay.

I also pulled out some solids. One of the grays I remember buying and thinking it looked just like storminess. I love weather. And fall, especially in Utah. Or Paris. Either way.

Okay, I'll try to get all the fabrics right.
Green stack: I don't have a selvage for the pear, but it's by Makower, Basically Beautiful by Maywood Studio, Dottie by Cotton and Steel, Wallflowers by Allison Harris, and the polka dots are by Riley Blake.
Blue stack: Glimma by Lotta Jansdotter, Ink by Alison Glass, Modern Mini by Lori Holt, A Beautiful Thing by Zoe Pearn, Dottie by Cotton and Steel, Prisma Elements by AGF in-house studio, and London Fog by Camelot.
Neutral stack: Countdown to Christmas by Sweetwater, Moonlit by Cotton and Steel, Not So Spooky by Holly Hill Quilt Designs, Dottie by Cotton and Steel, Hometown by Sweetwater, (No selvage information), and Remix by Anne Kelle.
Warm color stack: Hoodie's Collection for Blank Quilting, Netorious by Cotton and Steel, Modern Herringbone by Joel Dewberry, Meadowbloom by April Rosenthal, Priory Square by Katy Jones, Glimma by Lotta Jansdotter, Nomad by Urbanchiks, and pb&j by Basic Grey.

Whew, that was a lot! I actually really want to make something with this huge stack, though. Hmm...scheming...

Happy weekend!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Harry Potter Mini Quilt

I've been wanting to make my good friend, who has a fun etsy shop called Odds n Evens, a Harry Potter quilt for a long time. She was a school teacher before she had her son, she's an avid reader, plus she loves Harry Potter. She has even made her cute origami stars out of pages from Harry Potter just for books lovers like herself! So cute.

But it took me a few months to find just the right design. I wanted something subtle and modern. Maybe simple is a better word. Not easy, necessarily, but simple in design.

When I saw this post by @this_chick_quilts on Instagram, I knew almost immediately that it was the one. I elected to switch out the colors and use more traditional Hogwarts colors. Kona Charcoal was the perfect background! I had all the fabric already in my stash, so I don't know what the other colors are, but I'd bet almost anything they are also Konas.

I used my Silhouette Cameo to cut out all the appliqué pieces, and just top stitched them down. It shouldn't need to be washed. The font is a free font I found by googling Harry Potter fonts, and it's called Lumos. It's pretty easy to find. I created a simple polygon lightning bolt in the Silhouette software, and downloaded a file from the Silhouette store for Harry's glasses. It took me a little bit to figure out the quilting; I'm not very good at free motion, and without many seams to help act as guides, I was worried. But I really like the diagonal lines. I think it works really well with the design.

I really love how it turned out! And if I didn't love my friend so much, it might have been harder to give up. I might have to make myself one.

Harry Potter Mini Quilt
Completed October 2015