Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Christmas 2014 Gift Bags

Long-time readers of this blog may be weary of seeing fabric gift bags, but I’m not tired of making them! This December, I was a bag making machine, and churned out seventeen gift bags. The first five were simplified versions of the Lined Drawstring Bag from In Color Order, but I decided that it wasn’t going to work for the large amount of bags I needed. For the twelve bags that I whipped up in an assembly line fashion, I used the Reversible Patchwork Bag tutorial from Pink Penguin. My favorite bag is the jumbo one I made out of a charm pack of Kate Spain’s Solstice line. Often I buy a charm pack of a line so I can see the fabrics in person before deciding if I want to buy any yardage, so I have quite a few floating around without a planned purpose. Speaking of yardage, I think I only used only one new fabric in these bags – the rest was stash!

I’ve been making fabric gift bags for Christmas since 2010. My mom makes them too, so we always have several moving back and forth between our houses. This year, between the extras I made, and the ones we received from my parents, I finally feel like I have a head start on next year’s Christmas gift bags. Here’s hoping I keep up the momentum and reduce the inevitable holiday stress by having my Christmas gift bags all finished earlier next year.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Christmas Cowls

I don’t know about you, but I live in scarves and cowls during the winter. As a last minute Christmas present, I decided to whip up a couple cowls for family members. I purchased the Scarves and Cowls pattern by Make It Perfect via Indie Sew and set to work.

For the first cowl, I used flannel Sketch fabric from Timeless Treasures, purchased specifically for this project. Everything was going smoothly until it came time to join the ends together and turn it right side out. At that point, my cowl turned into a tube. I read and reread the directions. For the life of me, I could not figure out what I was doing wrong. I thought I was following the directions, but it was hard to tell, because there were no pictures whatsoever. Frustrated, I unpicked the last seam, turned it right side out, and then contorted it so that I could sew most of the seam by machine. Then I finished the seam by hand. As soon as I put it on, I loved it. So cozy! This one was really hard to give away. I’ll have to make myself a flannel cowl soon. 

Emboldened by the success of my first cowl, I dove into my stash and pulled out two long hoarded Kate Spain Cuzco prints for the second cowl. For this one, I cut 9” strips instead of 12” and I like how it turned out. It's like two cowls in one!

I will definitely make more cowls with these dimensions again, but I’ll continue to disregard the pattern instructions, since they don’t make sense to me. At the end of the day, what matters is the finished product, and I’m really pleased with these two cowls. I hope the recipients enjoy them.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Cotton + Steel Quilted Placemats

I didn’t make a lot of handmade gifts this holiday season, but what I did make, I really like. First up are my Cotton + Steel Quilted Placemats. I subscribe to the Pink Castle Fabrics Cotton + Steel Club, so each month, I receive a bundle of assorted Cotton + Steel fabric. Purl Bee’s Quilted Placemats were the perfect way to play with my new fabrics while simultaneously making a present. I used four different fat quarters for the front of the placemats. For the back, I used Dottie fabric for all of them, for consistency’s sake. Two of the backs are actually leftover fabric from my Bubblegum Glam Clam quilt. The bindings were all solids from my stash.

I really loved making these placemats. They were simple, fast and fun. It was a joy to quilt something small for a change. Even though I don’t usually do bias binding, the oval shape was so much fun to bind. No corners to miter! It was so satisfying to finish one of these in between my bigger projects. I definitely see more quilted placemats in my future.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Sparkle Sweater Knit Julia Cardigan

For the holiday season, I wanted to make a festive cardigan to wear to the various parties I was scheduled to attend. Since time is always at a premium in December, I decided to make another Julia Cardigan rather than try a new pattern. This is the third one I’ve made, and I’m getting quicker with each one.

The fabric is from Fabric.com and was called “Stretch Sparkle Sweater Knit Silver.” In the time it took to arrive at my house, it disappeared from the website. This was my first time sewing with a sweater knit. It was a little more challenging than other knits I’ve worked with, but manageable. I didn’t pay a lot for it, and you can tell. My biggest complaint is that it snags constantly. In the cut I received, I found two major snags before I even started sewing. Short on time, I pressed ahead, but each time I wear this sweater, it snags every time I turn around. I fear it’s not long for this world.

Another issue I had is that the sleeves “grew” between the time I cut them, and the time I finished sewing them to the body. That problem was mitigated because of another problem that I created myself. In my rush to finish this in time, I sewed the first cuff on to the wrong side of the sleeve. I tried to fix it by making it a French seam, but it was way too bulky. By the time I had trimmed everything up, I lost an inch and a half of the cuff and an indeterminate amount of the sleeve, which offset the “growth” that had happened. That was the left sleeve. On the right sleeve, I trimmed an inch and a half off the cuff, but forgot to trim the sleeve, so the right sleeve is slightly longer than the left sleeve. With only a short time to go before I left the house for a day of parties, I decided to just leave it.

This is not my best work, but I’m okay with that. I reached my goal of sewing a festive cardigan before my holiday parties, and practiced sewing with a sweater knit. Next time, I’ll invest in better quality fabric, and give myself more time, in order to avoid preventable mistakes.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Giveaway Day Winner!

Well, the December 2014 Giveaway Day is over. Congratulations to Brooke, who won the Cotton + Steel fat quarters.

Thank you all for participating!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Scrap Migration Quilt

Did you know that the Seattle Modern Quilt Guild will have a new exhibit early next year? In celebration of the guild turning five years old, there will be a My MODERN exhibit at Island Quilter from January 2 to February 5, 2015. Previously, I have entered preexisting quilts in the guild exhibits, but this time, I was inspired to make a brand new quilt especially for this exhibit.

Scrap Migration came about because the construction of my Patriotic X and Plus Quilt resulted in a pile of leftover half-square triangles. I knew I wanted to use alternate grid work and end up with a quilt 36” square, and the design just evolved from there. Those lonely half-square triangle blocks became scrappy flying geese set against an improvisational pieced background.

The top and binding of Scrap Migration are made entirely of scraps from other quilts, and the back is made from scraps and stash fabric. Even the batting was leftover from another project. How’s that for using what’s on hand? In fact, I’m almost completely out of white scraps now. Guess I’ll just have to start a new quilt!

Linking up to Scraptastic Tuesday at She Can Quilt.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Giveaway Day: December 8, 2014

Happy Giveaway Day! If you are not already aware, twice a year Sew, Mama, Sew! hosts a giveaway day for handmade items and craft supplies. My offering this year is seven fat quarters of Cotton + Steel fabric. As a bonus, the winner will also receive a Seattle You Are Here ornament from Starbucks. I don’t know about you, but sewing and coffee go hand-in-hand for me!

Here are the details:

  • To enter in the giveaway, please leave a comment on this post describing your favorite handmade gift to make.
  • The giveaway will close at midnight PST on Friday, 12/12/14.
  • I will randomly choose a winner and email them by Sunday, 12/14/14. If you are a no-reply blogger (or don't have a blog), please leave an email address in your comment. If I don’t hear back from the winner within 24 hours, I will randomly choose another winner.
  • The package will be shipped by Tuesday, 12/16/14.
  • Please be prepared to provide a US shipping address, as I will not be shipping internationally.

Stop by
Sew, Mama, Sew! to check out all the other great giveaways. Good luck!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Fresh Sewing Day: November 2014

Well, November wasn’t nearly as productive as I had hoped it would be. Still, I managed to finish Swoon Baby Quilt the First and En Route Julia Cardigan, as well as seven gift bags. All the gift bags were either made from In Color Order’s Lined Drawstring Bag pattern, or were a simplified version of it. In some cases, I favored speed over gussets and accent fabrics. There will be plenty of opportunity to sew more gift bags in December! I’m looking forward to trying my mom Debbie’s new Trim-Tied Gift Bag Tutorial, as well as some of the other bags on the list she curated for Sew Mama Sew, Handmade Holidays Bonus: Last-Minute Gift Wrap + Tags. Happy sewing!

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