Saturday, December 1, 2012

Fresh Sewing Day: November 2012

It’s nice to have my sewing mojo back! This November, I’m ever so happy to have finished:

  • A Brace of Birthday Bags: By doing a bit of stash diving, I was able to make a couple fabric gift bags in time for family birthdays.

  • Hurricane Sandy Help blocks: After reading Jennifer’s post about how her family and friends were affected by Hurricane Sandy, I dropped everything to whip up two blocks for her Hurricane Sandy Help quilts. Two blocks isn’t much in the grand scheme of things, but every stitch was a prayer for those impacted.

  • Wintergraphix is Coming: It warmed my heart to give this quilt to my grandma as an early Christmas present. This quilt is also proof of how quickly I can quilt and bind a quilt when I put my mind to it.

November was an awesome month for sewing, and I am looking forward to finishing even more in December! Hope all of my dear readers are staying warm and safe this holiday season.

Linking up with Fresh Sewing Day.
Lily's Quilts

Friday, November 30, 2012

Wintergraphix is Coming! A Christmas Quilt

Can you believe it’s almost December? It feels like only yesterday that I started my Christmas in July efforts, only to be sidetracked by fun in the sun. Now that the days are shorter and the nights are colder, I’ve been able to find more time for sewing. (A road trip across the state and back over Thanksgiving weekend didn’t hurt, either.) Fortunately, I was able to finish this Christmas quilt for my grandma in time for it to be an early Christmas present. My grandma is one of those people who have a knack for transforming their home into a winter wonderland, so I knew she would appreciate this quilt.

Most of the fabrics in this quilt are from Wintergraphix I, II and III by Jason Yenter. In the Beginning was my favorite local quilt shop while it was still open, so I have a bit of a soft spot for Jason Yenter’s fabrics. My mom bought most of this fabric for me years ago. I dutifully stored these lovelies in their own plastic bin along with the pattern I picked out for them. When I pulled them out this summer, I realized that the pattern was no longer my style, as it involved lots of sashing and borders. I have grown to thoroughly dislike borders. I couldn’t find another pattern that felt right for these fabrics, so I made up a simple pattern based on 5”x10” and 2.5”x5” rectangles. I miscalculated somewhere along the way, so this quilt ended up closer to twin-sized than lap-sized. For the quilting, I just echoed the seams. I quite like how it turned out. Now I’m itching to make a Christmas quilt of my own.


Monday, November 26, 2012

A Brace of Birthday Bags

Fabric gift bags sure are habit forming! My quest to give gifts in reusable (and preferably handmade) wrapping has spilled over from Christmas gifts to birthday presents. Using the Drawstring Bag Pattern from Jeni of In Color Order as a guide, I made two bags to fit specific items for my sweet girl’s birthday, using fabric* from my stash. Being a toddler, she was much more interested in the toys themselves, so I reused the bags for the next family birthdays only a few days later.

Giving gifts in pretty, reusable fabric bags gives me such nice warm fuzzy feelings that I don’t think I’ll be able to stop anytime soon. I’m already eyeing the scraps from these two bags and planning the next birthday bag.

*Fabric used was part of a Happy! by Me and My Sister Designs for Moda jelly roll for the main sections, blue Sketch fabric by Timeless Treasures and purple small chevrons by Riley Blake Designs for the drawstring sections, and an unidentified fabric from Spill the Beans by Barb Tourtillotte for Clothworks.

Monday, November 19, 2012

My First Garment: Wiksten Tank Dress

Making my own clothes has been something that I have wanted to do for years and years. More than once, I bought a pattern and fabric only to abandon the project in frustration or despair. Time passed, and eventually examples of the Tova shirt and Wiksten tank began popping up all over the blogosphere. As I read over and over how easy the pattern was to make and how happy people were with the results, I began to think that I just might be able to make one myself, previous failures notwithstanding.

During the Pacific Northwest Modern Quilt Guild Meet-Up, I received in-person encouragement from Kelli of Drygoods Design. That day, she wore a Wiksten tank that she had recently finished. Paired with a cardigan sweater, it was both cute and professional. Kelli kindly answered my questions about her experience sewing up the tank, and confirmed that quilting cotton was a perfectly acceptable fabric for the tank. Shortly thereafter, I bought the downloadable Wiksten tank pattern and several yards of fabric from a line called Andalucía. (I'm a sucker for fabric named after foreign locales, especially those I have visited.) I stalled after printing out the pattern though, as I had neither the time nor the inclination to tape together so many sheets of paper and then cut out the pattern. The project languished in a corner until, on a whim, I packed it in my suitcase for Sewing Summit. I wanted to take advantage of the open sewing times, but didn't want to take any of my existing WIPs or something that required a lot of fabric. Packing this project turned out to be an inspired choice.

The Wiksten tank is indeed quite simple, but it took three evenings for this novice to complete the tank dress. It would have taken even longer if not for the moral and practical support of my mom. Along the way, I made a few tweaks to the pattern. I omitted the decorative pocket, make the neckline trim out of contrasting fabric, and used double-fold binding for the armholes (the single-fold option was too fiddly for my tastes). Let me tell you, I am thrilled with the results! In fact, I am sorely tempted to make half a dozen more, and spend this fall and winter exclusively in tank dresses, scarves, sweaters and leggings. Stay tuned for more of this pattern, as I’m planning to go stash diving for another tank dress soon.

 Linking up to Finish It Up Friday at crazy mom quilts.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Top Ten Things I Learned at Sewing Summit

A week has passed since I returned from Sewing Summit, and I’m still wrapping my head around everything I learned and experienced. For your reading pleasure, below are the top ten things that I learned from the speakers at Sewing Summit. In addition to the insightful speakers, I met countless interesting people. You can learn more about some of them over at my mom’s blog.

10. Finishing seams is one of the most effective ways to make your handmade clothes look more polished and professional. a, e

9. When starting to sew your own wardrobe, comfort is essential. Work with fabrics you are comfortable with and make pieces that you are comfortable wearing. a

8. Balancing value, scale, type and color is important when selecting fabrics for a project. If you keep some of them consistent, then you have more leeway with the rest. b

7. For an appealing, quick loading blog, resize your photos so that they are the same width as your blog (not including the sidebar). c, d

6. To get awesome pictures, don’t be afraid to do wacky things like stand on a bed to get the shot you want. c

5. While blog design, social networking and high quality pictures are important to creating a successful blog, compelling content is most important of all. d, g

4. Keep creating and create what matters to you. e, h

3. The best inspiration comes from your own life. f, g, h

2. In quilting and fabric, as in novels, the most interesting stories are made up of layers upon layers upon layers of meaning. h

1. Learn to use the necessary tools. a, h

a.        Handmade Wardrobe with Mena Trott
b.       Creative Fabric Selection with JeniBaker
c.        Photography with Vanessa Hewell
d.       Website Design with Melissa Esplin
e.       Finishing Details with Anna Graham
f.         Keynote with Joel Dewberry
g.        Successful Blogging with Tauni Everett
h.       Fabric Design with Thomas Knauer

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Sewing Summit Shop Hop Happiness!

Sewing Summit is a blast so far! Really enjoyed meeting new people and exploring new fabric shops today.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Camera Strap Covers

Sewing Summit is nearly upon us! I am, of course, taking my camera. Since DSLRs tend to look very similar at a glance, I was worried that my camera might get mixed up with someone else’s at such a big event. The solution presented itself via Issue Seventeen of the Mollie Makes magazine: a camera strap cover! The one in the magazine is awesome, but as it seemed rather too complicated for my timeline, I simplified.

Once I measured my camera strap and calculated the necessary seam allowances, it was a breeze to piece a fabric strip of the correct dimensions and turn it into a fun camera strap. I liked how it turned out so much that I made one for my mom, too! In hers, I incorporated one of her personalized labels, which was fun. Since making my camera strap cover, I have used my camera a few times and found that I much prefer the feel of the cover to that of the original strap. I can’t wait to use it more at Sewing Summit later this week!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Flurry Poochie Bag

Ever on the hunt for cute fabric gift bags to make for Christmas, I decided to use up a few more Flurry fat quarters and give Happy Zombie’s Poochie bag a whirl. Despite that fact that I didn’t pay enough attention to the direction of the tree print, I really like the end result. This pattern uses three fat quarters with very little waste, whips up quickly, and is structured enough to stand up on its own. I especially like the traditional gift bag shape. Since the bag is open, I will add some tissue paper when it comes time to wrap a gift in it. Using tissue defeats part of my purpose for making fabric gift bags for Christmas, as I am trying to reduce the environmental impact of our holiday habits. However, this bag is still visually pleasing and handmade, which is awesome. I will definitely make this pattern again, but most likely for one-time occasions such as birthdays, and not for large scale giving holidays.
Linking up with Finish It Up Friday at crazy mom quilts.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Minnesota State Fair: A Junk Foodie’s Paradise

This summer, I had the pleasure of visiting the Minnesota State Fair. I’ve been to fairs before, but they did little to prepare me for the awesomeness that is the Minnesota State Fair. Within a four hour time span, three of my favorite people and I wandered the grounds, stuffing ourselves with as many unusual, unhealthy delicacies as our stomachs could handle. We sampled sweet potato tots, corn fritters, soft pretzels, cheese curds, a bucket of chocolate chip cookies, old fashioned root beer, corn dogs made with wheat, and best of all, red velvet funnel cake. In addition to gawking at the plethora of culinary delights available, we also managed to see baby ducks, new lambs, horses, cows and quilts. Sadly, we weren’t able to spend much time with the quilts. Next time. We’ll definitely be back, as those sweet potato tots are calling my name.


Monday, October 1, 2012

Sewing Summit?

Are any of my dear readers going to Sewing Summit next week? Let me know if you are, as I would love to meet you in person.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Fresh Sewing Day: August 2012

August was an eventful month, which didn’t leave much time for sewing. In addition to lots of fun in the sun with my sweet girl, I was fortunate enough to attend the first ever Pacific Northwest Modern Quilt Guild Meet-Up. (More on that later!) In the end, I managed to finish four projects that I’m quite happy with: two gift bags, a mini quilt and a doll quilt. My Work In Progress list is still longer that I’d like it to be, so hopefully September will bring even more finishes.

Linking up to Fresh Sewing Day at Lily’s Quilts.

Lily's Quilts

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Wrap It Up Doll Quilt

One of the pitfalls of quilting is that there will always be more inspiration than time to sew. I still like the Scrappy Nine-Patch quilt by crazy mom quilts that I started ages ago. However, I recently came to terms with the fact that I was unlikely to finish my version anytime in the near future. Since discarding all the scrappy nine-patch blocks I had made since August 2010 smacked of failure, I decided to repurpose them.

My sweet daughter is not yet two, and already she has shown a fondness for baby dolls. She particularly likes to cover them with a blanket, or carry them around all bundled up, so I figured one more doll quilt couldn’t hurt. I ditched the sashing and borders and just sewed the blocks directly together. A simple cross-hatch pattern made light work of the machine quilting, and I pieced together coordinating binding scraps for a quick finish. At the end of the day, I was left with a fun doll quilt for my sweet girl and one less project on my Work In Progress list.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Christmas in July Continued: Flurry Project Bag

At long last, I have found the gift bag pattern that I have been searching for! After making several Everything Bags, and one Snack bag, I found that the Project Bag size of Jeni’s Lined Drawstring Bag Pattern was the perfect size for my purposes: big enough for most presents, cute, quick and easy!  This bag was made from Flurry yardage left over from last year. I anticipate making many more of this size before Christmas rolls around. First step: stock up on Christmas yardage!

For those that are curious about the relative sizes of these bags, here is a picture of the three sizes I have made: Everything, Project and Snack.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Lavender Cupcake à la Mode

Since I was in the neighborhood recently, I stopped by the Ballard Cupcake Royale to try their new line of ice cream. My plan was to pick a flavor that would pair well with Strawberry 66, their cupcake of the month for August. That plan was dashed when I saw the Blueberry Lavender ice cream flavor listed and my favorite Lavender cupcakes in the case. The combo did not disappoint. The cupcake was as moist and scrumptious as I remembered. The generous baby scoop of Blueberry Lavender ice cream balanced blueberry, lavender and sweetness beautifully. If the shop had been air conditioned, it would have been the perfect pause in a hot summer afternoon. Air conditioning aside, I will definitely be back to try more of Cupcake Royale’s ice cream offerings.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Seaside Cabin

Log cabin blocks make me happy. The first quilt I ever made was a log cabin quilt, but I’ve more or less avoided the pattern since then, as there are so many blocks and techniques that I haven’t tried yet. A few weeks ago, I took Katie’s Improvisational Patchwork class, and one of the techniques was making an improv log cabin. We started with a strip pieced center, and then added scrappy logs to the design wall until we were happy with the results. I liked mine so much that I made a mini quilt out of it. (I also used a couple other blocks from the class in the backing.) Finishing at 8” by 12”, it was the perfect size for one of the walls in our house. This mini is named Seaside Cabin because the colors and relaxed piecing technique remind me of vacationing by the sea.