Friday, February 28, 2014

Just Wing It Fabric Gift Bag

Here is my latest fabric gift bag. As usual, the pattern is Jeni Baker’s Lined Drawstring Bag, this time in the Artist Bag size. The main fabric is from the Just Wing It line by Momo from Moda, which I believe has been languishing in my stash since 2011 or so. The accent fabric is Bike Print by Alison Glass, one of my current favorite fabrics. I am especially pleased with this fabric combo, and hope that the recipient likes it as much as I do.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Loony Improv Mini Quilt

As you know, I was fortunate enough to participate in an Improv Round Robin during the recent Seattle Modern Quilt Guild retreat. The night before the retreat, I was packing with “help” from my 3-year-old daughter. I needed to pull four fat quarters and a bag of scraps for the round robin, but wasn’t feeling very inspired, so I let my daughter help guide my fabric selection. I ended up with a palette that was outside of my comfort zone, and a bag of very random scraps. Before the retreat, I thought that the bag of scraps would be used on other people’s pieces. Once we sat down at the retreat to listen to the instructions, I learned that it was intended for use on my piece. I hastily pulled a handful of scraps that I thought might coordinate with my fat quarters, and stowed the rest away. This is what I ended up with:

When we were given the go-ahead to start, I hardly knew what to do, so I fell back on one of my favorite speedy techniques: strip piecing. After 15 minutes, I had a block that was improvisational and included all four of my main fabrics. This is what I passed on to the next quilter in the round robin:

By the time we were done, three other guild members had worked on my mini quilt. I loved it in and of itself, and as a momento of an awesome weekend. A couple weeks after the retreat, I pulled it out, grabbed some coordinating Pearl Bracelets for the backing and basted it up. I decided to use my initial strip pieced portions as the focal points, and used ½” echo quilting to fill in the rest. The quilting was very satisfying because I really enjoy echo quilting, but due to the small size of the piece, it didn’t take very long at all! Binding was over in a flash, and was made out of the same fabric as the backing.

I was stumped for a name, so I again consulted my three-year-old. When I held the mini quilt up before her, she declared that she loved it and that it was named “Loony.” I’ll make a quilter out of her yet.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014


Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of attending the first ever Seattle Modern Quilt Guild retreat. I could go on and on about how wonderful it was, but when it comes right down to it, for me the weekend was about three themes: community, exploration and focus.


Photo courtesy of A Quilter’s Table

Even though I have been a member of the guild for some time, I have not been able to attend as many events as I would like, and so have not gotten to know my fellow members very well. I really enjoyed becoming better acquainted with women who share a passion for sewing, even though we come from different backgrounds. During the retreat, we swapped Instagram handles (mine is @snippetsofsweetness), and I have relished staying connected with my fellow guild members.


My team’s improv pieces after I worked on them

At the retreat, there were a variety of smaller swaps and events to participate in. I signed up for the Improv Round Robin session. We split up into groups of four and spent two hours taking turns “responding” to ever growing improv pieces that others had started. Even though I had played with improv piecing before, it was always on my own terms and at my own pace, never like this. Working on other people’s pieces made me a little nervous, but I had the most trouble with the time limits! Each round was timed, which was definitely a new experience. Even though it was challenging for me, I’m glad I participated and explored new-to-me quilting terrain.


Photo courtesy of A Quilter’s Table

I find that in this busy modern life, focus can be frustratingly elusive, especially when it comes to sewing. Usually my sewing time consists of 15 minutes here, 15 minutes there, or a chunk of time in the late evening when I should be sleeping. Having three days to focus on sewing was amazing! My goal for the weekend was to finish a baby quilt and that’s just what I did. I am grateful for having that time and space to focus on creating. It was invigorating.

All in all, I had an exceptional time at the retreat. The SMQG Retreat Committee did an awesome job and I would definitely go to a retreat again. The only thing I would do differently is bring fewer projects. Of the five I bought, I only touched two.

If you’d like to read more about the weekend, check out the relevant posts by A Quilter’s Table, I’m Feeling Crafty and Tiny House.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Catnap Dress Contest: Crazy Cat Lady Dress

If you read my blog regularly, you will notice that I’m a big fan of Lizzy House’s fabric designs, especially her Pearl Bracelets. When she announced a Catnap Dress Contest, I joined in without hesitation. Her Catnap fabric line is so cute, how could I resist making a dress out of it?

While I knew that I could easily make another Wiksten tank dress or Staple Dress in time, those patterns didn’t quite fit my vision for my Catnap Dress. I need something sweeter, but still at a beginner level. The Crepe dress by Colette Patterns seemed to fit the bill. Once I stumbled across the Crepe Sew Along posts on Gertie’s Blog for Better Sewing, I was sold. I settled on Catnap Cattitude in Grey for the body and Jewels in Tangerine for the contrasting sash. Pink Chalk Fabrics had the fabrics I needed in stock, as well as the pattern, so I submitted my order and in no time at all, I had everything I needed to get started.

After I returned from the Seattle Modern Quilt Guild retreat, I vowed to work on my dress every day until it was completed, even if it was just for a few minutes. I read through both the pattern and the sew along posts and sewed my nights away. Just as I was starting to worry that I wouldn’t be able to finish in time, an extension was announced.

I had read several places online that the armhole facings on the Crepe dress tend to flip out, so I followed the understitching tutorial on Gertie’s Blog and diligently understitched the heck out of those facings. The bodice seemed to take forever, but the skirt sewed up quickly and I loved the pockets. Then I connected the skirt to the bodice and hit a snag.

It didn’t fit.

I couldn’t believe it! The muslin seemed to fit just fine, but it was only of the bodice. The almost-finished dress definitely did not fit me. The skirt was lovely, but the bodice was too big and the sleeves stood up over my shoulders and gaped in a most distressing way. I soon realized my mistake. When I had compared my measurements to the pattern sizes, I picked the size that corresponded to my biggest measurement, my hips. After my blunder, I read through the discussions on the Colette Patterns Flickr group and realized that I should have used a smaller size for the bodice and graded it to fit the larger skirt.

After the tears dried, I cut apart the sleeves, trimmed them down and sewed them back up again. The facings that I had so lovingly understitched made it a nightmare to fix, but I managed it. In the end, I have a wearable dress, even though it’s still a little too big in the bodice. Paired with a cardigan, it’s presentable.

What I like about this dress:

  • It’s a cat dress!
  • The pockets
  • The sweetheart neckline
  • I successfully used fusible interfacing for the first time.
  • The sashing is super long and the wrap portion of the dress feels very secure.

What I don’t like about this dress:

  • It doesn’t fit.
  • In spite of my understitching, the facings still flip out.

If I had to do it all over again, I would have graded the pattern for a better fit and lined it to get rid of the facing problem. The pattern is really cute, so I might make it again, after the traumatic memories of sewing this dress have faded.

In the meantime, it’s a great spinning dress.

You can find all the submitted Catnap Dresses in the Catnap Dress Flickr group.

Friday, February 7, 2014

January Jewels Baby Quilt

Last weekend I went on my first quilting retreat, and it was amazingly productive. Having cut the fabric beforehand, I managed to completely piece, quilt and bind this baby quilt during the retreat!

The seeds of this quilt were planted last January when the Scrappy Trip Along trend took Instagram and the quilty blogosphere by storm. It’s no wonder this technique has been so popular. It’s simple, quick, fun and lends itself to using up scraps. The original tutorial can be found on the Quiltville blog, and a handy size guide at Just a Bit Frayed.

While I love scrappy quilts in theory, in practice I like my creations to be more cohesive. Instead of using all scraps, I started with fat quarters from Jeni Baker’s Color Me Retro fabric line and threw in some Lizzy House Pearl Bracelets and miscellaneous coordinating scraps, while sticking to a color theme of aqua, blue, lime green, purple and white. Each block is bisected by a dark blue fabric, which further unifies the blocks. The backing is more Pearl Bracelet and the binding is an anonymous solid.

After spending a year admiring other bloggers’ Scrappy Trip Along quilts, it was very satisfying to make one of my one. It was also extremely gratifying to finish a quilt in a weekend, something I had never done before. (My previous record was sixteen days.) The only problem is, I like this quilt so well that I want to make a larger one to keep for myself! Next time I have a stack of fat quarters in need of a pattern, I just might try this pattern again.