Friday, December 31, 2010

Finishing up the Year - Making Things Harder Than They Need To

Whew - it's been a busy week, but I really am pleased with the dent I've made in my WIP pile. Don't get me wrong - there's still lots there that I need to finish up, but the six projects that I finished up this week have made me feel much better.

Remember these fun squares? I love how they look in this finished product - the quilt looks exactly like I had envisioned it would. Can you recognize the pattern? It's nearly identical to a disappearing 9-Patch. Except that I pieced this in the most backwards way possible to get the same effect.


Instead of making a traditional 9-Patch and cutting it into quarters, I made blocks of three sizes - a large square, a small square, and a medium rectangle. I sewed them into units consisting of a large square, two small squares, and a medium rectangle. In hindsight, it was such a cumbersome way of making what should have been a very simple quilt. I just didn't know any better. You live, you learn, right?


This quilt was inspired by Michael Miller's Sassy Stripe print, which I made into these blocks (I can't tell you how much I love using this application for striped fabric - I see a lot more of these blocks in my future). From there, I pulled fabrics from my stash in colors that matched the stripe print. Everything except the binding on this quilt came from stash scraps, which I'm pretty pleased about. I *have* to start using my leftovers more often.


Finished size is 37"x44" and features a hand-sewn binding. It's listed in the shop.

I hope that I've inspired you to take a crack at some of those long-forgotten projects. Here's to a happy, safe, and creative New Year!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Finishing up the Year - More Selvage Love

This year, I've traded my stash and my soul for as many selvages as I can get. And while most of them are used for my selvage quilt, some bits just aren't right for that project. For the quilt, I need pieces of selvage that are mostly of a single color and have at least a half inch of printed fabric beyond the selvage.

I separate out the selvages that don't fit this bill - those that are either cut too close to the selvage edge or those that are too colorful and don't have a single overriding color. My collection of these selvages has been growing and I've been meaning to clean out that bin and do something with these selvages.

Voila. A few pincushions later, and my bin is nice and empty for the new year - just waiting for my next selvage trade.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Finishing up the Year - The Selvage Quilt

Okay, so this one isn't done yet, but I did work on it a lot this week. I added 14 more squares, which brings my tally to 49 completed squares. And here it is, in it's current glory.


My original plan was to make it a large throw with a final size of 63"x81", which would require just two more rows, or 14 more blocks. However, certain people have been urging me to make it twin size. Their logic is that this is a once-in-a-lifetime quilt. It's taken a lot of effort to amass so many selvages and who's to say when or if I'll be able to do this again. So why not make a more functional quilt; with a twin quilt, I'd still be able to cozy up with it on the couch, but could also use it on a bed. This would require an additional 17 blocks *beyond* the aforementioned 14 - one more row and one more column. Finished size will be 72"x90", which will be the largest quilt that I've made.

So 49 blocks down and 31 to go. That's a lot more selvage I still need. Should you have extra, please let me know - I'm happy to trade fabric for selvage.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Finishing up the Year - The Mona Quilt

I started this quilt back in February and it's been folded neatly for months just waiting to be bound. I finally got around to it. Poor little neglected quilt...

This quilt feels a bit more graphic than what I typically make, though I do think I like the end result. Certainly I am groovin' on the colors, which are so bright and cheery. It's made with Alexander Henry's Alphonse and Mona character print, as well as the coordinating floral and is matched with Amy Butler's Full Moon Dots and Wallflower. The solid is Kona Coral, which is a pretty spot-on match for Amy Butler's Cherry.


The back, which I possibly like more than the front, is constructed of stripes of fabrics from the front of the quilt on a solid white background.


Finished quilt size is 36"x49". Now I just need to find a little girl to gift this to. Somehow it seems that there are a lot of little boys in my world these days...

Monday, December 27, 2010

Finishing up the Year - Sprinkling of Hexagons

Up next in my "finally finished" pile is this baby girl quilt. Hexies seemed to be all the rage this summer and while I couldn't imagine doing a whole quilt out of hand-stitched hexagons, I did want to join the hexie bandwagon - just a little. A summer trip to visit family during which I wouldn't have access to a sewing machine (what's a girl to do?) seemed like the perfect opportunity to do just a bit of hand-stitching. This quilt was inspired quite literally from Ashley's quilt. Ashley is such an inspiration - she consistently creates amazing work.


The back of the quilt was made using some extra strips that had already been pieced for this quilt. I really liked this color combination the first time around and I once again find myself loving on it. It's girly without being cloying - perfect for the modern baby girl.



As for the quilting, I was really hesitant going into this project, as I knew I'd have to use a pale, contrasting thread. If I used a grey to match the background I'd have had unsightly grey lines running through my hexies. But by using a lighter thread (a very pale pink) to do the quilting, I knew that the contrast stitching would be very prominent and any mistakes would be quite visible. That said, the sewing gods seemed to be on my side, I made very few errors, and I'm really happy with how the quilting looks.


The finished size of the quilt is 33"x42" and the binding is hand-stitched. Now listed in the shop.
UPDATE - Quilt has sold!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Finishing up the Year - Couch Pillows

With a week left to the year, I realize that I have a huge stack of half-finished projects from 2010 (no comments from my husband about half-finished projects, please). I'm trying desperately to finish some of them up so that I can start fresh(er) in the New Year.

After I finished this quilt top, I realized that I had a lot of scraps left, so I decided to make some matching pillow covers. They were made months ago and the completed tops were added to my (large) WIP pile. This week, I dug them out, quilted them, and added envelope backs. I wish I had the patience or foot to do invisible zippers - maybe another day.


Each pillow is different - a different pattern and also different quilting. The string top is quilted with a meandering stipple, the Chopped Vegetables top is quilted with dense straight line quilting in the negative space, and the HST top features diagonal quilting. I *think* the matching prints keep them unified enough.



They also feature a matching band of green fabric on the back of the envelope that you can see in the below photo if you squint and cock your head just right.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Lovely Gift Packaging

I came across this brilliant idea late last week on the Woman with Wings blog by way of Ohdeedoh. I am so hooked, and spent the greater part of my Sunday afternoon scouring the house for paper bags and digging out my old scrapbook supplies.


I love these gift bags. They can be made to exactly the size of your gift or you can make a bunch of them ahead of time in various sizes. It's a good way to re-purpose some of those extra paper bags that I shouldn't even have in my house since I always remember to bring my cloth bags that always seem to by lying around.


I'll be offering gift wrapping in this style through my store for a small fee, but from now until the end of January, enter "giftwrap" in the Notes to Seller and your item will ship wrapped up in one of these upcycled and reusable bags.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Sunday Stash - On Saturday

I'm way too excited to wait to post this one. Yesterday, Aneela posted on her blog that precuts of her darling Sherbet Pips were available for a very limited time before the line officially launches in the spring. I've been eyeing these beauties since she first introduced them and sprang at the chance to start working with them while the weather is still chilly (by April it'll be downright toasty in these parts).

Image courtesy of http://soggybottomflats.blogspot.com

I did a quick Etsy search and found a charm pack here. Of course I snatched it up, but was left wanting more. Another search later in the day yielded me a FQ bundle from Elaine's lovely Etsy shop. It's the first time I've ever bought an entire line. I am so excited to start playing with it... What to make, what to make?

Image courtesy of http://soggybottomflats.blogspot.com

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Love Quilt

I finished the quilt I made using Downy's Quilts for Kids kit. While it's not the fabrics nor the pattern that I'd ordinarily use, it turned out to be a sweet little quilt.


This was a lovely little project and I'd highly recommend that my quilty friends participate in this program. While I've never kept track of the time it takes me to make a quilt, I do know that this one came together much quicker than most, in part because all of the fabric was pre-cut.


All together, this quilt took 170 minutes, or just shy of three hours. The breakdown is as follows: 80 minutes to piece the top; 70 minutes to baste, trim the batting and backing, and quilt; and 20 minutes to bind.

There are many ways to bind a quilt. I always use a double fold binding and hand stitch it for a clean, polished look. That said, I tried something different this time. The paperwork that came with the quilt kit suggested that one way to bind the quilt is to double fold the extra backing forward and topstitch it. It further suggested that a zig-zag stitch helps prevent the binding from getting caught on IV lines. I decided to use both of these techniques, both to save time and increase the durability and function of the quilt. It's not heirloom quality, but it's fine for this quilt.


Once the quilt was done, I took a few extra minutes and used free motion quilting to write the word "love" in a continuous loop around the border. I think it makes a sweet addition to this quilt.

I provided 3 hours of my time and $5 or so worth of batting; now a sick child has a new quilt. How great is that? I'll be sending away for another free quilt kit sometime very soon and I hope that you do, too. You can see some of the other quilts that have been made for the Quilts for Kids project here.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Quilts for Kids

A few weeks ago, I was thumbing through a copy of Ladies Home Journal and saw a little blurb about Downy and how they participate in the Quilts for Kids project. Their goal is to create lovely handmade quilts for hospitalized children. By going to their website, you can sign up to receive a quilt kit - nearly everything that you need to create a quilt. The only thing you need to provide is the batting and the time. They ask that you return your finished quilt in 4-6 weeks. That is all.


I wasn't sure what kind of fabric to expect, but was surprised to see multiple prints from a single line. As it turns out, the fabric provided was by Robert Kaufman and is totally cute for a little boy. It seems that Kaufman has a relationship with Quilts for Kids, as the fabric line is of the same name.


In addition to asking for their completed quilt back in a timely fashion, Quilts for Kids suggests that you also include an extra quilt, made from your stash, to double their efforts to provide sick children with a handmade quilt.

I'm planning to work on this quilt over the weekend and will report back soon - It'll be good to get this quilt out in time for Christmas.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Work In Progress Wednesday

My quilting funk seems to be over, as I'm finding inspiration again and am once again having fun sewing.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Holiday Gift Bonanza

A month ago, I won some lovely Innocent Crush charms on Joree's blog. They were just so pretty, but I was having a hard time deciding what to do with them.


And then the holidays rolled around. It's gift time and I decided that there was nothing more appropriate to do with this lovely gift of fabric than to use it to make some gifts.

Bean and Sprout's teachers are in for a treat this year, if I do say so myself. Some will be getting little baskets made using Ayumi's tutorial.


Others will be getting potholders that were all made using different paper foundation patterns. They each have two layers of cotton batting as well as a layer of insul-brite inside, are 8" square, and could also be used as a mug rug.


I'm so pleased with how the orange colorway matches the orange and pink colorways of the Hope Valley scraps I had laying around. These are going to be hard to part with...

Friday, November 12, 2010

Craft Fail

I've been so uninspired lately. I feel like everything that I sketch is just blah - hardly worth making. And when I finally do complete a project, it's not what I want it to be. Some projects look perfectly fine, but not exciting. They just seem bland. Pedestrian. Sometimes they are downright wrong or ill-conceived.

I've been working on round two of the Scrappy Mug Rug Swap for the past week. My partner created a wonderful inspiration mosaic to help inspire me, but nothing seems to be clicking. I created one mug rug that I liked, but knew not to be her style, which by definition, makes it a fail. I worked on two more that didn't even make the cut to be photographed. Fail and fail. And then there is this one - my fourth attempt.


I love it and I know that she will too, but it such a literal translation of something that I've seen before; I wish it was more original. Not only that, but I forgot to shrink the pattern before using it. So what should be a small mug rug is now a hot pad the size of a dinner plate. Fail.

In the midst of repeated failures and a total lack of inspiration, I decided to make a new cover for my ironing board as a kind of palate cleanser. There are oodles of tutorials for a project like this - I think I used a combination of three different ones. Just Google it.

I used some of my beloved Swell for this project. Part of me thought it crazy to cut into such a large piece of out of print fabric for a project like this and part of me thought about how lovely it would be to see that Swell print every time I sewed. The second part won.


And while I have no regrets about cutting into my rare(ish) fabric, I'm totally peeved at myself for not thinking about the direction of an ironing board. As I was cutting, I was thinking that an ironing board is pretty non-directional. Until I stood it up to store it. And now my birds hang upside down. Ugh. Even though my husband thinks that I'm bananas for saying so, I know the truth. This project fails.


I just wish I knew how to get my groove back. Hubby tells me to walk away from the sewing table for a bit, but I'm feeling the pull to keep on crafting in the hopes that something clicks, even though it seems that nothing is. Which is frustrating.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Ginko the Quilt Cat

The Studio Cat phenomenon is well known within the quilting community and my little studio is not without some feline love. I introduce to you Ginko, lover of all things quilts.

We adopted Ginko as a wee kitten - he was part of a litter of feral kittens living under my neighbor's house. I have no idea what would have happened to Ginko had we not rescued him. I imagine that he'd be wandering around the neighborhood with a yen for quilting cotton in his soul. It's as though he was destined to love on my quilts.


Ginko can be on the other side of my house in a deep sleep, but as soon as I start fiddling around with fabric, he comes running. The second I lay out a quilt top, there he is. Stretched out or curled up, he stakes his claim immediately.


And when there are no quilts to cozy up with, Ginko improvises. After a morning of running errands, it is not uncommon for me to come home and see this.

If he can find a lone scrap of fabric that I've left out, it's enough for him to nap on. He'll make do knowing that before long, I'll lay out another quilt for him to cuddle with.

Monday, October 25, 2010

I-Spy Quilt

I had been given some adorable little I-Spy squares in an ALFALC swap earlier this year. I'd been seeing adorable I-spy quilts all over Flickr, but most of them felt a bit busy for my tastes. That said, I really was feeling the urge to make one and the arrival of these squares in my mailbox kind of sealed the deal for me.

And then I saw this made by Laura, and I knew what my quilt was going to be. I used a bunch of cute fabrics from my stash - it's amazing how many I-spy fabrics you can find in your stash if you take a look. Mushrooms! Rulers! Fish!

And this how my quilt turned out.

There are 20 little houses, all with grey roofs, all with different fun things "living" inside. The back is pieced in the same colors as the front and seven more squares to spy.


The solid green binding is binding is hand stitched and the finished quilt measures 32" x 41."

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Possiblities are Endless

I'm working on a set of three coordinating pillows. The first and third are done - one is a string block pattern and one uses Elizabeth's Chopped Vegetable pattern.

The middle one is a conundrum - I've but together a bunch of half square triangles, but I didn't realize how versatile they are, and now I'm overwhelmed by the possibilities. Here are just a few options - suggestions welcome.




Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Monday, October 4, 2010

Take That, Mother Nature!

Fall is upon us - it's drizzling and is a chilly 65 degrees outside. I promise you, I'm not complaining about this gross weather - I do love it. But it really is dreary out there. It was the perfect day for my mailman, by way of the Flickr community, to leave some sunshine on my front stoop for me. After running morning errands, I came home to FOUR packages. Oh, Mr. Postman, I could kiss you. On the mouth.

My mug rug from the Swappy Mug Rug Swap was delivered today. There were so many amazing rugs made for this swap, and this one by Meg was definitely one that had caught my eye. She embroidered two little bees sharing a tall glass of lemonade with curly straws. Totally darling. I love the colors that Meg chose - pinks and yellows, and her fabric choices totally match my sensibilities. Meadowsweet! Flea Market Fancy! And, brilliantly, a print with tea names printed on it.


It is so lovely and her attention to detail is well-honed. Her concentric square quilting is perfect, her embroidery is gorgeous, and her hand-stitched binding the perfect way to finish this piece.


But Meg didn't stop there. She included in her package a recipe for chocolate chip cookies (I know what I'll be doing with the kids this weekend), a handmade tea envelope, and a lovely collection of scraps (it's as though the universe is ordering me to make more tiny mug rugs!). Thank you, Meg, for such a gorgeous mug rug and for an amazing swap.


The other packages were filled with fabric. Kelly's local quilt store was having a crazy deal on Swell. Since Kelly (who is maybe one of the nicest women in the world) knows I love Swell, she offered to do a shopping run for me which is so nice since, um, she doesn't even really know me. But here it is in all it's glory. Nearly 4 yards of Swell. *Swoon*


These prints came from Dar, with whom I traded away some of my stash. I love these prints and chose them not realizing how nicely they work together. I am in love.


I also traded some of my stash with Jenny, who in return sent me this pile of selvages for my selvage quilt. There are some great pieces in this pile, including a big piece of FMF dotted leaves.


It might be chilly and blustery outside today, but there's a smile on my face as I enjoy an afternoon snack at my sewing table - decaf chai and a few chocolates. Mmmm... Thank you to my great Flickr friends.