Sunday, December 8, 2013

Sunday Stash #5

It's kind of ironic that I have recently gone on a fabric buying spree and have made very little progress in using any of it!  Oh well, here's my stash share for the week:
I saw these fleur de lis fat quarters at my LQS sale last week and couldn't resist.  I love fleur de lis - they pay homage to my new city of Louisville and were the only real "theme" at my wedding.  I am thinking of turning them into cloth napkins (using the above pairings) based on this tutorial.  My only concern is that each set of FQ makes two napkins, which means that they end up kind of small (18"x11").  I guess that smaller size would be OK for our lunch boxes?  Thoughts, anyone?

Linking up with Sunday Stash at Finding Fifth.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Sunday Stash #4

Hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving!  Or, for any international readers, a good weekend :)

Remember when I went a little crazy and ordered a bunch of fabric from StashModernFabric?  I had fallen in love with the Afternoon Garden colorway from Joel Dewberry's Bungalow line and I decided to (finally get on the bandwagon) and make a Swoon quilt with it.  The only "problem" was that Swoon requires 18 FQ, and my bundle only had 12.  What's a girl to do but browse the Internets for more fabric to buy??

And low and behold, Beth at Stash had a bundle of coordinating solids!  And there were 6 FQ in the bundle!  And 12 + 6 = 18!  Yay!  Beth was also having a sale on Essex linen, which I'd never worked with but wanted to try.  I thought I'd try and go darker for the background, since one of the solids in the bundle was cream-colored, but really wasn't sure what to go with.  I originally thought I'd try Denim, but after some back and forth with Beth decided to go with Indigo instead (I told you she was helpful!).

Can't wait to get started on this one!  I've already decided on my fabric pairs!

Linking up with Sunday Stash with the fabulous Molli Sparkles!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Finish it up Friday - Christmas present edition!

Happy Black Friday, all!  If you're braving the crowds, more power to you.  This is kind of a cheeky Finish it up Friday post, as what I've finished is Christmas shopping for my side of the family!

We're spending Thanksgiving with my family and Christmas with my husband's family this year.  I figured rather than ship all the presents closer to Christmas, I'd make it my goal to get the shopping done early and bring them when we're there visiting.  There are four home-made presents within this pile, and of course I can't reveal all of them.  I did, however, tell you about the pouch I made and my plan to fill it with some goodies.

Now before you go thinking that I'm all ahead of the game, remember, this is stuff for my side of the family.  We've gotten a start on my husband's family, but that list is no where near complete.  Thank goodness we've got a few more weeks to go!

Linking up with Confessions of a Fabric Addict and Crazy Mom Quilts.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

WIP Wednesday

One of the many excellent blogs I follow is Melissa at Happy Quilting.  She posts bunches of tutorials, free patterns and quilt-alongs, but I had never done one of her quilts.  Clearly that's a situation that needed to be rectified, so I decided to take my FQ of Florence and follow Melissa's Starburst Quilt-A-Long and make the 32" blocks.

First Melissa recommends you sort your fabrics into columns and rows that will work well with each star.  Here's what I came up with.  The columns are the fabrics for each of 4 stars and the rows are the components to the star (burst points, star center and star surround).

This quilt is made assembly-line style, so next you cut all the fabrics according to Melissa's handy cutting chart.  That includes the background fabric, which for me is Kona Bone.  I managed to be really careful cutting the 7/8ths but somehow cut the easy 4 1/2" squares as 4 1/4" instead.  Oops.  Fortunately, I had enough fabric to correct my mistake.  Here's my cut pieces ready to go!
Notice the new cutting mat?  An early Christmas present from the hubs!
I have actually gotten my goose in the corner blocks and HST blocks all sewed together, but only have half the HST trimmed up at this point.  No photo though, sorry!

Linking up with WIP Wednesday at Fresh Modern Quilts!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Sunday Stash #3

Hi all, sorry for the lack of posts this week - I've been under the weather.  Either my allergies are kicking my tail or I've got a cold, but either way it's poor timing with Thanksgiving coming up this week. 

Anyway, to bolster my spirits (and support the local economy!) I went to my LQS, Among Friends Quilt Shop, for their sale-abration yesterday.  Remember when I wrote about choosing colors and getting better at picking them myself instead of relying on pre-packaged bundles?  Well, I gave it a shot.  I decided on the following color scheme from Design-Seeds:

And this is what I came up with:

The fat quarters are random assorted fabrics (no labels, although the solids are Moda) and the dark grey is Bella Solid in Graphite.  One of my other Sewing with Certainty goals was to actually do one of the BOMs that I have pinned.  So my plan is to follow the Summer Sampler Series with the various fat quarter colors as the star blocks and the dark grey as the background.  I've already planned a slight diversion from the plan, though, as I'm not a big fan of the stars with strings.  I'll have to figure out other blocks to sub in for those two.  Thoughts, anyone?

Linking up with Sunday Stash at Finding Fifth.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Sunday Stash #2

Happy Sunday!

I don't do a lot of ordering online, but StashModernFabrics was having a sale on Free Spirit fabrics and a couple of bundles caught me eye!  Stash is a great shop and the owner, Beth, is really nice.  She also helped me pull together a custom bundle once before - I sent her the pattern I wanted to do and the fabric requirements and she picked a great assortment of prints for me.  I get so nervous about trying to find coordinating colors off a computer screen, so I was very appreciative of Beth's willingness to help!  This time, though, I went for a couple of designer FQ bundles.

This bundle is the Afternoon Garden colorway (12 FQ) from Joel Dewberry's Bungalow line.  I love the bright colors - fuchsia, chartreuse and teal with a little bit of softer pink.  I think I'll make something for myself from this one!  I have the Swoon pattern somewhere around here, or maybe one of Melissa's (from Happy Quilting) star-themed quilt alongs?

And this bundle is the Malachite colorway (13 FQ) from Denyse Schmidt's Florence line.  I liked these colors (various shades of greens, blues and black) because it's a little more man-friendly and I have at least one wedding coming up in the next year.  I did one wedding quilt in her Chicopee line previously, so this would be a nice continuation of that tradition.

And last but not least, a little bit of Ed Emberley from the Happy Drawing, Too collection.  I had an Ed Emberley book as a kid that I thought was fun (anyone else remember the thumb print drawings??) and thought about buying a bundle when this line first came out but didn't really have any project in mind for it.  This time, though, sentiment won out and I bought a single half yard of the doggies :)  It's always good to have some good boy-friendly fabric on hand, right??

Well, that's enough shopping for me for a while!  Although, my LQS, Among Friends Quilt Shop, is having a sale-abration for their 10th anniversary next week and I might have to go check it out...

Linking with Lisa in Port Hope for Sunday Stash!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Christmas sewing

I randomly happened to have a long, cream-colored zipper laying around so I thought I'd try my hand at a Noodlehead Open Wide zippered pouch.  I've seen a lot of these pouches floating around blogland and they seemed pretty straightforward.  I used a pretty maroon floral for the outer later and some cream for the lining.  Both gifted to me, as well as the zipper (I think) - yay for using what you've got!  I had just run out of featherweight fusible interfacing so I used a couple scraps of the craft weight that I had on hand.  It came out a little stiffer than I would have preferred, but again - yay for using what you've got!

 I made the large size since my zipper was pretty long, and it makes for a pretty large pouch - it's 14" wide and 11" tall!  (Maybe even slightly too big?  Can you have too big a pouch?  )  My plan is to follow Katy's gift-giving suggestion and fill it with a few items for the recipient.  So far I'm thinking some of my homemade chai tea mix, a lip gloss and another little thing or two.

The instructions for making the pouch were nice and clear.  I had a little bit of trouble finagling the zipper, but nothing too traumatic.  The whole thing was completed in one weekday evening, and I must say I had quite a sense of accomplishment!  I need to go and buy some more zippers (maybe in a smaller size this time!), because this is a great tutorial to have on hand for a quick and easy gift.

Whooping it up for one more Christmas present done!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Sewing with Certainty #1: Choosing Fabrics

The first Sewing with Certainty topic is "choosing fabric."  In my mind, this breaks down into two categories: the type of fabric and the colors of the fabric.

Types of Fabric
The very first quilt I made is made of fabric I purchased in Ghana, West Africa while I was studying abroad.  Studying abroad in Ghana was pretty different than my liberal arts school in NC, and I had a lot of down time.  Somehow another student, Amanda, and I decided that we wanted to make quilts to document our experience, so we bought whatever fabric was available in the markets, along with some pins, needles and thread, and we made quilt tops.  I'm not sure what Amanda did with hers, but I finished mine with pink and navy borders, stuffed it with polyester batting, backed it in more solid navy, and tied it.  It has served me well over the last ~10 years!

My next batch of quilts were made with home decor samples that were given to my mom by a neighbor.  I made an olive-y and pink-y one (no pic!)  and a navy/tan/white one (below).  For the life of me I can't remember how I quilted the first one, but the navy one I stitched in the ditch.  The home dec fabric lent a nice weight to the quilts, which I always find nice and soothing, but I have no idea how they'll hold up long term with washing - fingers crossed, especially since both were wedding gifts!

I've grown some (I hope!) since those quilts, and can now recognize the difference between "good" quilting fabric and "not so good" quilting fabric.  I have a Joann's store not too far from me, but I try and be very careful about what fabrics I buy there that will go into quilts.  I have been impressed that it seems like they're expanding their selection of quality cottons (the Denyse Schmidt collections are pretty nice and they have several Kona colors) and I hope it continues.  I need to be a better patron of my local quilt shop too.

Finally, I have played a tiny bit with fabric for quilt backings.  I have now done two quilts with flannel backs and find those nice and cozy - just remember to wash and dry the flannel before you make your quilt sandwich!  I've read lots of postings of people who have done backings in minky, especially for baby quilts, which would be pretty soft and snuggly.  I've worked with minky before, though, and can't imagine binding a quilt backed in it!  I've also read about people using velveteen and even corduroy for their quilt backs.  Both of these thoughts really intrigue me because I feel like both would make for a nice and weighty quilt.  My BOM quilt will need a back (duh) so maybe I'll use one of these options for it.

Colors of Fabric
I tend to mostly rely on others to help me choose colors, mostly either by using a designer's collection or by purchasing bundles someone else has curated.  For example, I like browsing the Blogger Bundles at Pink Castle Fabrics because I know that people with good taste have already done the hard work for me!  It's also fun to check out the palates generated by Design Seeds.  Using those images as inspiration is a nice middle ground to picking colors "from scratch" because you just have to find colors/prints that match what already has been shown to work together.  And finally, as Jessica mentioned, rainbows are always good :)

I don't really have a favorite color or go-to color scheme, at least at the moment anyway.  Normally I'm not a very pastel person, but my Pooh Bear quilt was one of my favorites so far, so I guess nothing's off limits, right?  I generally prefer bright, cheery colors but not ones that are overly primary.  I like the idea of a two color quilt a lot, too. 

So in the spirit of SWC and improving my skills, I think I'll try and pick some colors myself for my BOM quilt.  I have several color schemes pinned so I'll have to see which speaks to me for the quilt.  Hopefully I'll be able to shop my stash, with a little bit of supplementing with new fabric.

 Thanks for reading my thoughts on "choosing fabric!"  Time to get choosing!

Sewing with Certainty: Goals!

Jessica over at Quilty Habit has recently launched a new series called Sewing with Certainty.  Her goals for participants are to provide 1) encouragement and experimentation with your sewing and quilting; and 2) inject even more positivity into the wonderful world of sewing.  Sounds like a pretty good deal to me!

Our assignment for this first link-up is to "Write a blog post about the crafty areas in which you want to gain more confidence, and/or discuss a project you will be working on during the series that will help you gain this confidence."  I have two goals, kind of related to each other.

Goal #1: Actually complete a BOM quilt.
I have  several BOMs pinned on my Pinterest "Quilts" board, but have yet to actually do any of them.  I think my hesitation is because while I've got several finished quilts under my belt, I have little experience in just making blocks.  My HST skills are minimal and I've never made a flying goose (is that the right singular for flying geese blocks??).  I worry that my seam allowances won't be spot on and I'll end up with half my blocks measuring 1/2" to small and the other half measuring 1/2" too big, and then I'll just get ticked off (at myself) and quit.  But hey, the only way to get better is to try, right?  And goodness knows, practice certainly makes perfect.  I'd also like to one day feel confident enough in these basic skills to participate in a bee of some kind - they seem like a such fun!
Virtual Quilting Bee

Sisters' Ten BOM
Goal #2: Try paper piecing
It seems like several of the BOMs I've pinned have at least one paper-pieced block, so I guess I should have made this my first goal instead of the second.  Paper piecing is a skill I feel like I need to learn in order to advance in this quilty world, plus the blocks people make are so cool!  For example, Faith at Fresh Lemons Quilts is hosting a Lighthouse Quilt Along that looks pretty straightforward but the final result is so clean and graphic.  I also found this cute paper pieced goldfish template forever ago that I would love to turn into an actual quilt.

Lighthouse Quilt Along

Goal #3: Free motion quilting
I know I said two goals, but really, if I'm being honest this is one I really need to work on.  I can quilt in straight lines with relatively few problems, but I have never tried to FMQ.  Part of my concern is that the throat of my machine seems pretty small (to me at least).  I don't know that I'd really be able to do much maneuvering of a quilt to make the designs - I have to roll quilts up pretty tightly just to do straight-line quilting.  But, I could probably do small things like potholders or pieces for bags, which would be good practice for when I am able to get a machine with a larger throat.
Great sewing machine, small space for quilting.

Three goals seems like a good start to me!  Guess I need to go start thinking about that BOM quilt - thanks for the inspiration, Jessica!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Pooh Bear Patchwork

I started making this quilt simply because I had fun pulling the fabrics.  I was gifted a bunch of cotton fabric from my cousin, who had previously been on a bag-making kick.  I'm not sure what she did with the Classic Pooh print, but I knew it was destined for a baby girl quilt.

I had "low volume" in my head as I pulled fabric, although I think it turned out more "soft volume" instead.  The prints are a combination of tiny florals, vintage sheet-type florals and a few very small scale prints in addition to fussy-cut pieces of the Pooh print.  The pink scottie dogs are one of my favorites :)

I quilted it in straight lines on either side of the seams (is there a name for this style of quilting??  It seems like there should be!) in a light pink thread.  It came out pretty well, with only a few puckers.  The back of the quilt was also a freebie, but the binding was purchased from Joann's - a grey and white polka dot from one of Denyse Schmidt's lines for the store.  I even managed to piece the batting together from leftovers using Easy-Knit Batting and Seam tape.

This sweet quilt is the first one I've made that I'll truly be sad to see go.  It's going to a friend who is expecting her first baby, a little girl named Harper.  Hopefully Harper and her parents enjoy it.

Linking up with Can I Get a Whoop Whoop? at Confessions of a Fabric Addict.

Sunday Stash #1

I took some time this weekend to clean up my bin of random scraps.  I don't really have a scrap system of any kind, I just toss pieces I deem to be on the smallish side into one big bin.  Larger pieces I keep in clear storage boxes sorted by color.

Anyway, I went through my random bin and cut pieces into 2.5" squares and 2.5" strips.  My current thought for the squares is quilt made out of granny square patches.  I haven't done any planning to figure out how many squares I'll need yet.  The strips are going into Trip Around the World blocks.  According to my (admittedly questionable) math, to make a quilt with 6 squares x 7 squares (each with 6 strips) I'll need a total of 252 strips!  I haven't counted my stack yet, but I'm pretty sure I've got a while to go!

I also took some time to cut up some other fabric I'd put aside into 5" squares.  I started with the tropical frog fabric and pulled from there.  I didn't purchase many of these, most I got in clean outs from my cousin and great aunt.  It needs some more bright orange before I start laying it out though - guess I'll have to go buy some fabric!  I think this collection will make a fun, bright quilt for a little boy.

Linking up with Sunday Stash at Finding Fifth.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

For baby Sofia

One of my friends/co-workers is expecting her first baby - a little girl named Sofia.  The color scheme for the nursery is pink and grey so I went off in search of an appropriate selection of fabrics.  I was delighted to come across the pink colorway of Willow by Riley Blake (there's also a blue and a yellow set).  It had the added bonus of being organic cotton and came in an 8 fat quarter set, although I only needed 6 for the pattern I'd selected.

This was a neat tutorial that allows you to make 24 HST from these 6 FQ.  I was a little worried at first because not all of my FQ were a full 18" wide and this was the measurement used in the directions.  It worked out OK though, because you trim the HST down to 8" square and I had plenty of square to properly square :)

Sofia's mama is also very into chevrons, so at first I tried this arrangement of the HST:

I tried to like it, but it wasn't really striking my fancy.  Then I tried the arrangement in the pattern - all the HST oriented the same way and in a repeating pattern.

Much better - I think I'll be going with this one.  And the chevrons aren't a total loss, as the grey fabric is actually a tiny grey and white chevron print.  The final serendipitous find of this little quilt is this elephant fabric for the back: apparently the full nursery theme is pink and grey chevrons and elephants!  The front HST panel will be bordered in a white-on-white dot print (not pictured) and this grey dot is for the binding.  The dots are actually a silver metallic, and I hope they iron, wash and wear well.  The white, elephants and dots all came from Joann's.

Baby Sofia's not due to arrive until late February, but it's nice to be ahead of the game every once in a while!

I'm linking up with WIP Wednesday!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

A birthday quilt in progress

My mother-in-law's birthday is just after Christmas and it's hard to come up with a nice gift for her for both occasions.  She and my father-in-law have recently left their home in Florida and moved to Arizona because of a job relocation.  They still consider Florida home, though, so we thought it'd be nice to get her something for her birthday that would remind her of home.

We actually picked up these fabrics on our honeymoon trip to Alaska but decided they fit the bill to make a beach-y, ocean-y quilt for her for her birthday.

 Whales and otters                                             Watery prints

I followed Jeni @ In Color Order's tutorial.   (I used this tutorial before to make a quilt for my husband, so it's going a little faster this time.)  Here's my blocks in process.  The green background fabric is Kona Tarragon.

I debated which layout to go with and ultimately decided to ask my husband's opinion, since it's going to his mother.

He decided on the bottom one because of the mix of colors.  Aren't those otters cute??  Here's the final layout - it's on the bedroom floor because it's too big for my design wall.

Now just a bunch of straight seams to sew and it's off to the long-arm quilter's for finishing!  One less thing to do before the holidays.

It's hard to think about Christmas, though, when I have this pretty sight outside my window!

I'm linking (for the first time, hope I do it right!) to Can I Get a Whoop Whoop? at Confessions of a Fabric Addict.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

Sometime over the summer I was browsing around Etsy and came across a vendor selling those mini charm packs for (what I thought was) a pretty reasonable price.  I thought they were cute, but didn't have a clue what one would do with them.  I think I even googled "what to do with a mini charm pack" looking for inspiration.  I didn't find anything quite what I was looking for, but of course I ordered a two-pack of the Boo Crew anyway.

Eventually I decided to make myself a simple patchwork pillow with the squares set on point in a random-ish pattern.  I needed one more square to complete my layout, so I added a black and white gingham from my stash.

I quilted on each side of the seam lines - except I didn't notice until it was all assembled and done that I missed one row of stitching!  Oh well.  My pillow form isn't quite big enough either, but it still came out pretty cute I think.

The back were a couple polka dot prints I had on hand.  And the little stuffed pumpkin came from my mom :)

Happy Haunting!

Monday, October 28, 2013

How to make your house smell really good with minimal effort

I'd be remiss in my blogging if I didn't mention how much I adore my crock pot.  It's so great to come home to dinner already made, especially when the effort involved is typically pretty minimal and the results are pretty tasty!

A couple weeks ago my husband and I went to Huber's Farm across the bridge in Indiana.  It's a really pretty drive, especially in the fall!  We had planned to visit the little store, eat a country lunch and go pick a pumpkin at the patch.  Unfortunately, Mother Nature rained on our parade - literally.  We still did the store and got lunch, but we nixed the patch.

My purchase at the store was some weirdo looking gourds and a half peck of Jonathan apples.  No way could two of us eat that many apples, so I followed this recipe and made some apple butter!

 This recipe is super easy - the hardest part is peeling and chopping the apples.  Then add sugar and spices to taste, and let your crock pot do the hard work!  It takes the better part of a full day to get the apples cooked down, but the smell is divine!

I used my immersion blender to get the apple butter nice and smooth.  It makes just enough for you to enjoy for yourself, as well as feel OK about giving to friends, neighbors or co-workers.  I also found this recipe for Apple Butter Bars if you wanted to do something a little different with your apple butter.


Sunday, October 27, 2013

Blogger's Quilt Festival entry #2

You get to enter two quilts into the Blogger's Quilt Festival (hosted by Amy's Creative Side) so I thought I might as well pick another, especially now that I've got this blog up and running!

My second entry is in the Baby Quilt section.  It's a surprise for a co-worker, so here's hoping she doesn't stumble across this little blog before her shower in a couple weeks!  She and her husband are expecting their first baby - a little boy.

This baby quilt is made from a Simply Color layer cake (well, half of the layer cake - the boyish half, I still have the more girlish half left!) and a white solid I already had on hand.  It's hard to find good boyish fabrics that aren't cartoon-y or overly primary, but I think this color scheme really works for a little boy.  The back is a bunch of blues pulled from my stash.  The tutorial is on Moda Bake Shop and is called Hot Cross Buns.

The trimming of the squares made quite a little pile of scraps.  I took this picture and posted it on Facebook - and one of my friends asked if I was making a quilt for a mouse!  I'm pretty sure I actually LOLed when I read that :)

Thanks for reading!

It's normal to start a blog to participate in an online event, right?

I had been toying with the idea of starting a blog for a while and decided to take the plunge now in order to participate in the Blogger's Quilt Festival over at Amy's Creative Side.

I made this quilt based on this tutorial.  There was a lot of measuring and trimming involved to make sure the points (mostly) matched up and I debated a couple different layouts before deciding on the final one.  I thought the ones at the top left were kind of boring but the ones on the right were maybe a little too busy.  So I ended up going with the ones on the bottom left.

The solids are from a Kona solids jelly roll and the white is Kona snow.  I didn't take a picture of the back, but the fabric is a purple and green marbled look and the binding is a purple batik, both from Joann's.  It probably wouldn't have been my first choice for a backing/binding if I was keeping it, but I think it suits the people I gave it to quite nicely.

I gave it to my local longarm quilter, Sandy Cardosi, for the quilting, and I think it came out great.  We debated about different quilting designs, but decided to go with a large, all-over stipple that wouldn't detract from the modern pattern.

The quilt measured about 61" x 72", a nice throw size.  There's a throw category in the Festival, but there were a LOT of entries already in the category so I decided on the ROYGBIV category instead.

Thanks for reading my first blog entry!  I'm hoping to post semi-regularly, so please check back as I get things up and running!