Thursday, July 29, 2010

July Bee Blocks

Nichole in my Scrapbusting Bee asked for spiderweb blocks and sent a variety of bright, fun fabrics. She (kindly) pre-cut the centers for us, which makes life so much easier. I found that with these blocks, like my string quilt, I prefer not to use paper piecing. I just add fabric strips as I go and then use a square ruler to trim them up to the proper size. I probably waste a bit more fabric than I should using this method (shhh... don't tell Nichole), but I find it so much easier than pulling off bits of paper from the back of a completed block. I really like how these came out and hope Nichole does too.

Ramona from Sew Bee It sent some reproduction fabrics from her stash and asked us to create some modern blocks, the exact style of which was left up to us. I chose to do a modified bento box block kind of thing (yes, that's the official description that I'm going with).

I created a block of concentric squares, cut it into quarters, rearranged them, then sewed them back together. The block ended up being a bit too small, so to enlarge it a bit, I added a large border in a solid color that works well with the reproduction fabrics, rotated the square 45 degrees, then squared the whole thing off.

While I'm happy with how it came out, I wonder if it looks modern enough. I can't decide if the traditional look that I'm seeing in this block is a function of my pattern or the fabrics or both.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Ice Cream Social Dress

A huge thanks to Amy for her very clear step-by-step instructions on how to sew this dress together - she's been a wonderful help. I've never been great at reading patterns, so having someone virtually walk me through it has been invaluable.

Even though my daughter is two, I decided to make her a 3T dress, figuring that she'd get more wear out of it. That said, it was way too big for her, so I *had* to make her a new one in a 2T. This time, I decided to use up my Alexander Henry mushrooms and pair them with some red-on-red dot fabric that was leftover from an old project.

Although Sprout is tall for her age, even this smaller size seems large on her, but certainly it fits her well enough for now and will last her through our very long summer season.

On my second take with this dress, I omitted the pocket notches, more out of laziness than anything else, but I rather like the look. I'm still now sure how I feel about the notch at the neck - I saw a few takes on this dress on Flickr without the notch and I really liked them. I also used a thinner hem on this second dress, thinking that it would show off the mushroom fabric more. But really, the smaller hem gets lost on the dress, and I wish that I had used the original fat hem.

Up next on my to-do list is to make a matching diaper cover, 'cause soggy Huggies just aren't helping her rock this dress.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sunday Stash

There are good mail days and then there are really good mail days. Really good. Have a look-see what showed up in my mailbox this week.

Yup - you're seeing it right. Not only some gorgeous orange multi pez, but also some FMF. Pink seeds, people. I'm swooning here. And not only did I get these lovely cuts, but they came with some extra little bits of love. Moda. Michael Miller. Even some Kei Kerchief Girl. Yum.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

She Nailed It

Good lord - have you had a chance to see Made by Rae's post today? She was worried about sounding "dumb," but she clarified so well what I didn't know that I already realized. Brilliant!

Rae put it all together so nicely. With crafty bloggers, it's not just about sitting down and putting pen to paper, so to speak. Save for Sunday Stash-type posts, each of my posts start with hours in front of my sewing machine. From there, the process entails taking twenty or so photos for each one presented, editing the photos, and then finally doing the writing. There are just so many more steps, and all of that is in addition to my daily life of kids, housekeeping, and projects for Etsy that I don't feature here.

My husband is a blogger, and while I know it takes him a lot of time to put his thoughts together for a post, I feel like he can do it much quicker than I. And suddenly, I don't feel so bad about my lackluster posting frequency - I've started and stopped blogging more times than I can count (or care to admit) as life gets the best of me. A big thank you to Rae for assuaging my posting inadequacies.

WIP Wednesday

June was my month in the Sew Bee It bee. I had requested confetti blocks with Kona Raisin as the sashing. I sent a variety of prints, including a lot of MoMo Wonderland and Freebird. Oh, look at the loveliness that has been gracing my mailbox lately. My completed blocks are coming back to me and they are spectacular. I keep rearranging the blocks on the floor, trying to find the perfect layout for them, even though I don't have all of the blocks here yet. Oh, I can't wait to start putting this quilt together.

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Ice Cream Social Sew-Along

I'm a little late to the [ice cream] party, but am officially throwing my hat in. How can I resist? Amy has decided to do a little sew-along with a lovely Oliver + S pattern, and really, who am I to say no to something like that?

I'd been sitting on this pretty floral vintage fabric for a while. I typically don't fall for vintage, but saw it on Etsy ages ago and knew it had to be a little girl's dress. The coordinating blue-on-blue dots are part of Moda's Tweet Tweet line. They don't go *exactly* but they are close enough and I really like the idea of girls clothing in something that isn't pink or purple.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Sunday Stash

I took a little drive downtown last week and picked up some lovely little goodies from Michael Levine. Oh, it's so hard to contain myself in that store and even though I wanted loads more, this is what I came home with.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

WIP Wednesday

According to the Mister, I am the master of the unfinished project. While I'm getting better at finishing my old projects, it does take me a while to finish some of them. In the same amount of time that these projects have been languishing in my studio, various other projects have been started and completed. I'm *hoping* to get to these soon.

My Paintbox Squares are in desperate need of sashing. I just can't decide what I want this quilt to be - a gift? A throw for the house? Something for my daughter? Once I have a better feel for where this quilt's home will be, I feel like I'll know how to put it all together. Until then, this pile of squares is just taking up shelf space.

These sweet little baby quilts have been quilted and folded and are practically crying to be bound. My problem is that I'm kind of over doing a hand-stitched binding, but I'm not yet skilled enough to do machine stitched binding. I'm at an impasse.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Thread Giveaway

Have you heard about the lovely giveaway over at Sew Mama Sew? Oh, they have beautiful new thread collections from Amy Butler and Kaffe Fassett. Such vibrant colors; what I would do to win...

In the interest of sharing and trying to win some of those gems, allow me to share my stash with you.

How did you select colors for your personal thread collection?

I buy thread like I buy fabric - I see a color that I'm drawn to and I buy it. Nine times out of 10, I'm drawn to the same colors in thread as I am in fabric and I make a match.

Do you always match the color perfectly to your project?
Perfectly? No. I get close, but I don't go bananas trying to get an exact match. If the color is close (even if it's not perfect), I'll use whatever I have in my stash. If I don't have anything close, I'll buy something specific for a project, in which case I try to match exactly.

Do you ever use contrasting thread?
Never have, but I'd like to one day. It would be a bold move for my sensibilities.

Do you use the same color in the bobbin as the upper thread?
Usually, but if I run out and I have something close, I'll use it. Don't tell anyone, but the quilt that I'm working on right now has a bobbin in a different color. Oops - poor planning on my part.

What if a fabric has big areas of very different colors?
Um, white, maybe. Or something close to the main color of the quilt, even if there are a variety of colors.

Do you have any tips or suggestions about choosing thread?
I recently read a very interesting post by Elizabeth at Oh, Fransson! about thread. I was having lots of problems with my free motion quilting and couldn't figure out why the back of my stitches were so wonky. I tried adjusting my tension, new needles - everything, but to no avail. At her suggestion, I bought some new thread, changing out my Gutermann for some Coats and Clark and some Mettler, both of which are working great in my machine. The point of her post was that sometimes you just need to try something new if you've exhausted all of your avenues and are still having problems with your sewing, even if you *think* you love your current thread.

Can you show us a picture(s) of your thread collection?

Do you ever buy thread because you fall in love with the color (without a particular project in mind)?
Totally. If I see something I like, I buy it. There's usually a reason that I'm drawn to something.

Do you “invest” in thread?
Kinda. I tend to load up when JoAnn's has a sale - always lots of white for piecing and dress making and colors that I know I'm running low on. But all-in-all, my stash is pretty small.

What types of thread do you have? (elastic, quilting, all-purpose, wool, etc.)
I keep lots of elastic thread on hand - I'm a big fan of shirring (visit Sandi Henderson's site for a great tutorial). I don't keep anything else on hand.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

My New Nightime Companion

I was up much later than I wanted to be last night. The hand-stitched binding on the beauty that I first mentioned here was nearly done. Oh, how I wanted to just finish it up and be able to cuddle with it. Another hour of trashy TV later (so what if I like SYTYCD?) and it was done - just in time for me to stumble into bed with it. I do love it so, and while it ended up being too warm for my bed now, I know it won't stop me from sleeping with it for the foreseeable future.

I ended up using 100% cotton batting, a decision that I know that I'll regret come January when I realize that it's not as warm as I'd like it to be. I backed it with a cozy flannel print by Moda. The binding is a subtle yellow and white stripe. I had been fantasizing about a beautiful Kei Honeycomb binding, but was worried that would draw the eye out when I wanted the focus to go inward. I'm ultimately happy with my final decision - I really like how you barely notice the binding.

At 51"x70", it is the largest quilt that I've made and I found that quilting it was quite difficult. I had initially planned to stipple it, since I do love the look so much, but quickly realized that this quilt was going to be too heavy and cumbersome for such a project. I ended up with simple diagonal lines and do like the effect - it's so simple that it's barely there and it really lets the fabrics of the quilt shine.

I can't believe it's taken me this long to make a quilt for me - everything else I've labored over has found a new home, usually with a new baby, and I'm so pleased to have something just for me. Initially, I was worried that the size of this quilt was a bit overwhelming, but in the end it wasn't as hard as I feared. And already I find myself itching to start another lap quilt. I think I hear my couch is calling for one...

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Baby Xander's Quilt

After a near misfire, baby Xander's quilt is finished. I had pinned and slightly trimmed up my quilt sandwich before I saw this on the back of the quilt:

Somehow the red square, which is the quilt's label, wasn't properly spaced from the square above it. All the squares on the back of the quilt were supposed to be seperated by yellow sashing to mimic the appearance and spacing of the front of the quilt. How I got so far into the process without noticing my error is beyond me. I couldn't have been less in the mood to unpin my entire quilt, fix my error, and repin, so decided to take a chance on quilting the top half of the quilt, ripping apart the bottom, adding the sashing, and putting everything back together. Thankfully, it all worked out for me and here's the completed product.

And here's the front. The quilt measures 39"x45". The blocks are 7" square and each is different - there are no two with the same ratio of solid to print. The yellow is Kona Corn, which is a new favorite of mine (though I do believe I say that about nearly every color of Kona that I use). It's a gorgeous yellow - bright and cheery and walks the line between pastel and neon just about perfectly.