Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Can't keep me down!

Three months into blogging and I've already broken my promise to write once a week!  But it's not entirely my fault, the universe seems to have been out to get me the last two weeks! A combination of work and illness have kept me away from my sewing machine and my lovely projects.

First, I had two of my teammates at work leave for a week long conference.  We're in the middle of a giant redesign and we are the only three people responsible for design implementation support (technical talk for telling the developers and analysts what it's all supposed to look like).  Most of my working hours were spent answering emails and talking to developers.  I would leave to eat dinner only to return back to work when no one was around to bother me so I could actually get stuff done!


Then, all that stress resulted in me getting sick and feeling terrible and incapable of doing anything more than binge-watching Netflix from the couch. Once I was finally able to get some work done my walking foot wouldn't stop catching on itself.  Now I have to figure that out! Such a frustrating two weeks!



The downside of living in a small studio apartment is the inability to escape your various UFOs and WIPs starring at you.  My diamond stripes quilt hung in quiet disapproval from the design wall and the pieces of my upcoming rainbow pieces quilt were giving me the silent treatment. Oh well.


Luckily the last two weeks haven't been a total waste!  While I was feeling down on the couch, I was able to pre-cut some pieces for a future project and order the necessary supplies for my first Quilty Bucket list project!

My paper pieces came in last week so I at least got to start working on my first EPP project! There was a little speed bump though in the shape of 2" jewel pieces that should have been 1". Turns out the blogger of the original project I based my project on mistyped the required size of the pieces.  But never fear! I simply changed my original plan from a starburst patter to straight up hexies.


And I love it!


I'm planning to make a pillow case using a charm pack of Kate Spain's Sunnyside for Moda and so far I am loving the fabric! I keep telling everyone that my hexies look like candies! The oranges, blues, and purples look so lovely and really fit the hexie shape! The starburst will just have to wait until I'm done with these lovely hexies!


I also was able to put together a back and baste my quilt, but I'll share more with you next week.  Now to figure out my walking foot and not get distracted by my tempting pile of hexies! See ya next week!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

My Quilty Bucket List

Last week I was over at St. Louis Folk Victorian and she started talking about Quilty Bucket Lists.  The Tilted Quilt has dedicated the Month of march to "the quilts that we all have on our lifetime to-do list...that made you say 'Some day, I want to make that quilt'."  She's hosting a blog hop over the next few weeks and having some more experienced quilters talk about their own bucket list.

The Tilted Quilt

The whole idea of this is to build up some motivation to try and tackle at least one of your bucket list quilts this year.  And reading this first week of posts has already been an inspiration.  Hearing experienced quilters talk about how they can still, after all the time they've been behind their sewing machines, be intimidated by projects is refreshing to hear.

Quilting used to be on my life long bucket list. But like with any to-do list I seem to make, crossing something off just means I've added at least 10 more other things to my list!  So without further ado, my Quilty Bucket List:

Solids Color Play


One of the tipping points that brought me jumping feet first into quilting is the discovery of the Modern Quilting Movement.  It showed me a new side of quilting that I could get behind. One aspect of MQing that I've obsessed over but have never actually done is working completely with solids and playing with the colors of the fabric.  Or using simple patterns but emphasizing on the color placement and negative space.

By Tallgrass Prairie Studios        
above quilts by Jacquie of Tallgrass Prairie Studio

One blogger that inspires this side of me is Jacquie over at Tallgrass Prarie Studio. Her quilts are my definition of bucket-list-level quilts. She has an entire book dedicated to Modern Quilting (she heads the Modern Quilt Guild so go figure) and was part of the book We Love Color.  I'm thinking my first foray into the Solids/Color Play will be from that book!

Improve Piecing


This is another Modern Quilting technique that I have fallen for head over heels! Just grabbing a stack of fabric and sewing them together as I please!  The freedom seems to be both extremely exciting and extremely anxiety inducing! I don't think I can trust myself to be spontaneous!

Photo curtesy of amazon.com

If I want to tackle this one, I'm going to need to chain myself to my sewing desk, lock away my laptop/tablet so I don't peak at patterns, and not get up until I have a 10" block in front of me.  I think I can. I think I can. I think I can!

Curves


Curves. They scare me.  Seriously, I avoid patterns with curves in them.  The only curves I've done have been circular applique pieces.  Technically that's not actually sewing a curve but there was thread, a needle, and something curved involved so it counts for now.

Flowering Snowball by Cut to Pieces


One day, I will make something with curves!  I promise!  (or at least I promise I will try! *gulp*)

Hand Quilting


Gran Flakes by Happy Zombie

I would love to hand quilt something! Anything!  But first I need to get my stitches straight and somewhere around my too-high standards.  I would like to say I'm currently practicing....but maybe this is something I can add on to my list of New Years Resolutions!

Pixel Quilt


Pixel Quilts have taken off in the last year, or at least they have been more frequently showing up on the blogs and Pinterest boards I follow.  Last year I got as far as cutting the actual 1.5" squares for the Mario Brother's Quilt Along over on Cut to Pieces, but there is something about all those little squares that are intimidating.

The Tenth by St. Louis Victorian


This is something that I have added to my "Projects I need to finish this year!" list and I will see it done!  More appropriately, I'd like to have it finished by the fall before I move so that way I don't have to worry about packing up hundreds of little squares with the rest of my sewing stuff!  Talk about motivation!

Sampler Quilt


Sampler Quilt is really two items combined into one.  First: I love the look of sampler quilts especially when they're made with modern or solid fabric.  The mixing of old and new styles is very pleasing to me and I can easily see one laying across my bed now.  Second: I haven't really played with traditional block styles and piecing methods.  It's been mostly easy, modern pieces that I've worked with. I feel completing a sampler quilt would be a good test of where my talents stand in piecing and color choice.

Photo Curtesy of amazon.com


English Paper Piecing


I have missed creating something with my hands.  And I mean literally with my hands.  I swear there is such a thing as restless hand syndrome and I am inflicted. EPP looks like so much fun and looks like it would be the perfect thing to soothe my restless hands.  The variety and complexity of quilts made with english paper piecing is amazing to me! And the perfect points make me so very happy!



I've saved this item for last because this is the item from my bucket list that I have chosen to tackle this month.  My plan is to keep this project at work so I have something to work on during my lunches (since I am of course going to follow my budget and bring lunch instead of going out and buying lunch ahem). My coworker next to me also has a lunch time project she works on each day. I may have to pop over to her side of the cube wall and join her in lunchtime craftyness!

So there you have it. My Quilty Bucket List! I'm confident that at some point in my quilty life I will have attempted and finished each one of these bad boys. But first up, English Paper Piecing!

And if you don't already, you should follow all the amazing people I linked to above!!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

A finished top

I finished my Stripe Diamond top last night and it looks so good!


I did something new with the borders this time: I mitered the corners. When I first started sewing I made some self-binding receiving blankets for my niece that had mitered corners, but I have never tried it before with a quilt border. Google and YouTube turned up some really good resources on mitered corners but I ended up referring to the tutorial by Riley Blake during the process.  However I wasn't brave enough to try pre-cutting the miter corner before sewing on my pieces.  


I really like how this border works with the diamond pieces. It helps the patterns stand out a little more from the colors, and really makes the whole thing pop. This quilt is truly starting to get the kid vibe I was going for and I can't wait to start quilting it up!

On an interesting side note I had something incredibly lucky happen to my while I was sewing on the borders. I have this bad habit of never checking on my bobbin which usually results in me sewing about 60" before realizing I haven't sewn a darn thing at all.  Last night, while I was almost to the end of sewing on a border strip, I remembered that my bobbin had been looking a little thin around the middle.  So I stopped and moved aside my fabric to see if I had blundered again and guess what!!!  I picked the EXACT moment my bobbin ran out to check! No a few seconds before or a few seconds after, the exact second!!


I checked to make sure that everything was sewn up until that point because I was sure the power of wishful thinking was making me imagine things.  But it was true!  I should go buy a lottery ticket with this kind of luck!

Also on the list of awesome stuff I got a big shipment in of charm packs from the Fat Quarter Shop and a nice set of Omnigrid rulers.  In this bundle is my first spool of Aurifil thread! I've heard amazing things about this thread through the various quilt blogs and I can't wait to try it out on this top!! 


Before I go, I want to give you a peak at what I was up to on Friday! I was visiting with some friends and sat down with one of whom has an artistic side and a good eye for color.  She helped me sort out my big Michael Miller Cotton Couture charm pack and choose colors that would go nicely with each other for my next quilt.  I'm thinking I might start the cutting on this one tonight, it's going to involve cutting over 140 charm squares!




Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A busy week!

I have been busy this last week!

I finally dove head first right into sewing up the first of two baby quilts for my mom. And it almost feels like I literally dove right in! Fabric covered every inch of flat surface area in my apartment and by the end of the night my pants and t-shirt were covered in little bits of fabric and thread.  Wednesday night was a mad woman's night of sewing and cutting and sorting all to the background sounds of Say Anything and Pretty in Pink.  Thursday was just as busy only this time I had Breakfast Club and 16 Candles playing in the background.  I have no idea why I decided the theme to my week was 80's hits but I enjoyed it thoroughly!

I enjoyed all of this work immensely! Being able to just go peddle to the metal with a project is exhilarating and the product of my efforts has been a wonder to watch come together.  I am in love with how this quilt is coming together!

However, all of this love came to grinding halt Saturday night when I realized I needed to iron my seems open if I wanted everything go through the sewing machine neatly.  The thickness of the meeting seems made it almost impossible for the blocks to go under my foot without being pushed to the side.  This ended up throwing off my seams and made for an uneven row.

I threw the row back up onto the design wall and instead focused on making the last drawstring bag for my mom.  Sometimes it's nice having more than one project going on at once.  It enables you to step away and forget about the problem for a little bit.  Then, as you work on your other project, you can create a game plan to tackle the problem and approach it from a new direction.

So Monday night I ordered my favorite food, turned on Season 4 of Castle, and slowly worked through ironing open each seam.  That's 6 seams a block, 5 blocks to a row, and 5 rows to the quilt.  Yay 150 seems!  >_<  On the plus side, I amazingly got through all that ironing without burning myself! That is the true accomplishment here.

On tap for this week: sewing the blocks together and continue working on the border of the quilt.  Wonder what theme my Netflix viewing will have this week?

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Light Sewing Week

This week has been pretty light on sewing but heavy on planning.

I was able to finish two of the four drawstring bags for my mom that have been sitting on my to-do list. I used the easy Lined Draw String Pouch pattern by In Color Order and made two DVD size bags. This size is available on the pdf pattern she has for sale.


I chose colors my mother would like, and focused on a polka dot look since that is her absolute favorite pattern.  These two turned out really cute and I like the brightness of the colors.  However I think I'll go with some darker colors the next two bags.  This will add some contrast to the bunch and help Mom remember which bag holds what.


For the planning part I've already decided the sort of layout I want to accomplish with each of the upcoming baby quilts.  The will be a strip diamond quilt with the help of the Missouri Star Quilt Co. Tutorial. It's an older video of theirs, but it still has their quick and easy charm.


The diamond string quilt will have strips from a Mixed Bag by Studio M Jelly Roll. I loved all the patterns in the line and the alternating white and color backgrounds.  The colored backgrounds are going to be the ones I want for this quilt, setting them against alternating white strips.


I'm most likely not going to need the entire Jelly Roll for just a baby quilt top, so I think I might play around with the left over strips to make a fun back. And to ensure that I don't create any waste blocks, I'm planning to make a few blocks at a time until I have the exact dimensions I need. It's half tempting with such an easy block to just piece everything together but I'd hate to waste any of this fun fabric!


The second will be a fun pattern I found on Pinterest that I'm super excited to try out! It'll be my first Pinterest inspired quilt since most of my quilts up to now have been inspired by the Missouri Star Quilt co. tutorials.  I'm excited to lay this one out on the design wall, and I'm hopping to make it very colorful!


To accomplish this quilt, I ordered a charm pack of Cotton Couture from Michael Miller and will be selecting the brightest colors of the bunch to go into this quilt! I'm so excited to see this one come together since this pattern has been sitting on my Pinterest board for some time.


As an update on my last post, my giftee received their gift and loved it! I'm so glad she likes it and glad it has gone to a good home!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Swap Complete!

Thursday night I completed my partner's bag! As you can tell from last post I was so excited I couldn't wait for a legitimate post to show it off!

Finishedbag

It's gorgeous is it not? I am in love with how it turned out! (I am also getting better at this whole taking pictures with your phone thing.)

finishedbag-topview


Putting this bag together was a lot of fun and I'm super glad I did a test round.  It made me more confident about what I was doing and I got to tweak a little here and there. The second attempt at the vinyl went way better than the first attempt.


This fabric is gorgeous and I hope my partner loves it as much as I do! I'm always afraid when I cut into fabric that I love, especially when I only have enough for the project at hand.  Luckily everything turned out perfectly and came together quite nicely.

exterior


I love when I get a chance to work with a line of fabric because everything goes together so nicely. It is fun to pull from your fabric stash and see what can come together in front of you, but working with pre-paired fabric is such a treat. To me everything about putting this bag together felt like putting perfectly sized puzzle pieces together. The fabrics were made for each other (literally)! Even the thread I picked out to stitch the visible seems and details ended up being a perfect accent.

finishingseam

I forgot to take a send off photo of the lunch bag, but I think I was too busy giving the woman packing my box the stink eye. She kept packing the brown paper in with what I believed was excessive force and I had several "My baby!!" moments.  I said something about it being hand made and already filled with air spacers I saved from Think Geek and she stopped. So my partner, if you read this, I hope it got there alright!

On top of finishing these wonderful bags, I ordered fabric from my next two baby quilts and decided on the two patterns I'm going to use. While I'm waiting for the fabric to come in, I am going to make some more of those boxes that are also sitting on my to-do list.  I may take advantage of the left over vinyl and make myself a nice box for all my make up.  The vinyl will help any inevitable spillage from staining the fabric.

As a parting thought, I share with you a realization that I had over the last week: creating a pin cushion out of polka dot fabric will result in way too much time and effort being spent on pin-replacement.

pincushionproblems


Thursday, February 6, 2014

Finished!

With tomorrow being the send off date I finished just in time! It turned out so pretty I couldn't wait to share it! More pictures to come soon!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Finished Lunch Bag and New Fabric!

I finished my first Lunch Bag!!  It's so cute! I may or may not have done a little happy-dance upon it's completion!
The last few steps were extremely easy and for the first time ever all of my layers came out even.  Usually when sewing inside and outside pieces together, one of them is slightly longer than the other so I get a little fold over in my fabric.



But this time everything came out nice and neat.  I even managed to get all my centers lined up and pretty much on point!  Needless to say I showed that part off to some of my crafty friends.



This bag is so cute and so fun! It's the perfect size for my day-to-day lunch and I even foresee it holding a few crafting supplies for future craft dates.  I know a knitting friend of mine looked at the drawstring top and vinyl interior and thought it to be perfect for holding some yarn.

Action shot of my wonderful lunch bag at work!

Like all good projects, I learned some lessons for what to do next time.
  • When using iron on vinyl (or anything that is adhesive) cut the fabric you want at least half an inch bigger then you intend. Apply the vinyl, then cut to size. This will ensure you get the vinyl on where it counts and don't accidentally iron it to your cutting mat. (Don't worry, that didn't actually happen :) )
  • Never use leather as a draw string. It sheds and is hard to pull.  
  • You can use the spray feature on your iron to get out stubborn creases! Never knew this one before (apparently it's a known thing) and it was like discovering a new toy!


On top of finishing my bag, the fabric for my swap buddy came in is as beautiful as I thought it was going to be!  I ordered Midnight Gems by Michael Miller and am totally in love! The tones of the fabric are so rich and deep with the light sprinkling of white.


And I appreciate any fabric line that mixes in appropriately matching solids.


Thursday night I was able to finally pick out the fabrics I would use but unfortunately I couldn't touch the fabric again until this past Sunday. And even then I only had time to cut up the pieces I need and apply the vinyl on the inside layer.



The inside layer is a surprise for my swap mate!  I was able to order some of the fabric from her Pinterest wall that she liked but was from an out of print line.  Etsy came to the rescue on this one and it looks wonderful! It doesn't go with the rest of the fabric line so I figured the inside would be a nice place for the piece.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Lunch bag #1

First up from my to-do list: lunch bags! I ordered fabric for my partner and grabbed some from my current stash to make my own bag. As a rule, I always try to make something first for myself if I intend to give it as a gift. This way I can figure out how to handle any issues I run into and make note of what I'd like to change.  Plus practice makes perfect.

When I started pulling out fabric I had a "staring into the fridge" moment. You know when you're hungry and you're looking in a fridge or pantry full of food but don't see anything to eat? That's how I felt with my fabric spread all around me.

Eventually some pieces started to jump out at me and it came together quickly from there. However I decided that the problem I was having originated from a lack of solid colored fabric in my stash.  Guess this means I'll have to go buy more fabric :)

For my bag I settled on a blue on white geometric pattern as the main fabric for the bag with a solid blue border. From there I picked a nice bright blue for the handles that would give it a nice pop.  I think my favorite piece of this bunch, however, has to be the white with blue birds fabric for the drawstring portion.  The cross stitched birds are absolutely adorable! :D

The best thing about working with fabric you love is that it makes the whole process of ironing, measuring, cutting, and sewing so much fun! I swear I had a smile on my face the entire time I put this together (and it had nothing to do with Disney's Robin Hood or Emperor's New Groove playing in the background).

This pattern has been a lot of fun to put together.  It's so simple and easy to follow! As you know I'm working from Pink Penguin's Lunch Bag tutorial and her abundance of photos of the process make a visual learner like myself very happy.

I've only deviated from the pattern in one aspect, which is not using a vinyl fabric for the inside.  Instead I purchased iron on vinyl to use overtop my interior fabric. I had never used iron on vinyl before this project and I'm very glad I'm making my bag before my swap partner's! The most difficult part for me was getting the vinyl on and keeping the fabric flat as I ironed. Fortunately it all worked out in the end. Next time, I'm cutting the fabric a half an inch bigger so I have more room to work with.

All I have left to do now on my bag is put everything together! Hopefully I'll be able to do that tomorrow night and then dive right into my swap partner's bag!