Saturday, December 10, 2011

I'm back in the saddle again

Yeeeehaw!  After more than a month without my sewing machine, I've finally got it back and am sewing again.  Hallelujah!  With several Christmas gifts depending on me having my sewing machine, I was starting to worry that I wouldn't have presents for certain people.  So far, in the 24 hours I've had it back, I finished one of the appliqued pillows that will go with the quilt for my grandmother, along with the top of a table runner for my mother.  The pressure is on to get the table runner done because my mom is having a Christmas party on Saturday and she wants to use it.

The completed top of the table runner.  I used 5" charm squares from the Moda "Fruitcake" line, cut in half.  I'm going to stitch in the ditch on the center rectangles, and do something decorative on the outer rows/columns.  It's about 46" long and 16" wide.  My mom has a very long rectangle table, so it should fill it in nicely.

The backing fabric for the table runner, also from the Moda "Fruitcake" line.  I don't normally use such strong patterns on the backing, but I thought this way, Mom can use either side of the runner.  It's reversible!

The finished pillow that coordinated with Grandma's lap quilt.  With all of the downtime I had on my hands, I was able to do everything but the applique and actual sewing together of the pieces of the sham.  It took me about an hour or so to finish it up tonight.  Finally, something I can check off my list!

I guess I should get back to work.  I've got a lot of missed time to make up!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Finally--I finished something!

After working on my sister-in-law and her new hubby's wedding quilt for what seems forever, I finally finished it.  It felt like something was missing, then I remembered an awesome tutorial I'd seen for a scrap-busting pillow that I've wanted to try for like, forever.  I knew I had enough fabric from various projects to do it, so I booted up the ol' PC, dove into my bookmarks, and badda boom, badda bing, pillow!

I think the tree goes well with the heart quilt for a "newlywed" theme.  You know, love and starting your own "family tree".

I'm almost done with my grandmother's quilt.  Now that I know how easy that pillow is, (and how cute!) I'm going to make her a coordinating pillow to go with her quilt.  And after that, I'm going to start a split-rail fence patterned quilt for Project Linus.  And maybe I should finish that rag quilt I've been working on, too.  That would make another fabulous Project Linus quilt.  (If you have no idea what I'm talking about when I say "Project Linus", click HERE to find out more about this awesome organization.)  I'm so excited to be working with Amy and Project Linus to provide blankets to sick kids!

I have the sneaking suspicion that my sewing machine is going to be out and in use pretty much indefinitely...

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Merry Christmas, Grandma!

I loved the quilt I'm making as a wedding present for SIL and her fiance so much that I decided to make another for my grandmother as a Christmas present.  Since the backing fabric for SIL's quilt was still in transit, I had time on my hands to do some work on Grandma's.  See what I whipped up today:

I love the way this quilt combines making a statement about how I feel about my Gram (I lurves her) and her love of the Pittsburgh Steelers (black, gold, gray and white fabric).  Hopefully she'll like it!  

On a side note, I really wish I could figure out what happens when I'm cutting fabric.  I swear, I was really, really, REALLY diligent about my measurements, but as I progressed, my fabric pieces got shorter and shorter. My goal was to not do any piecing this time around, but as usual, my wish was not granted.  Grrrrr.  The really sad part is that I even cut the white strips an inch too long to try to alleviate this problem.  Problem solving skills FAIL, apparently.

And in other news, I am strangely proud of the fact that I finished my first cone of thread.  I don't know why this excites me.  Maybe because it's a symbol of all of the work I've done.  Look...I even took a photo of it to share with you.

Yep.  The things that get me all hot and bothered are weird.  Very, very weird.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Where, oh where, has my quilting mojo gone?

I just re-read my last entry and realized that I've accomplished pretty much nothing since Labor Day.  Well...that's not exactly true, but it certainly feels like I've accomplished nothing.  My latest project is a rag quilt made from some really cute flannel I got from the clearance rack.  (Is there any better price than half-off the clearance tag price?  Other than free, that is.  I don't think so!)  Because this is my first rag quilt, I had no clue how insanely time-consuming and painful it would be to make all of the little clips in the seams.  So, coupon in hand, I headed to my favorite place in the world, Joann Fabric, to buy a pair of snips.  When I got there, I discovered the most amazing thing:  they actually make a pair of scissors specifically for rag quilts!  Of course, I had to buy them, and let me just say:  they were worth it.

Fiskars, my thumb and I thank you heartily.

So at this point, I have 6/9 rows done on my quilt.  It's a really easy project.  I've just been busy with the start of school and overnight guests to be able to devote any time to it.  But I have gotten a good bit done.

Simple patterns make my life so much easier!

Here's a close up of the snipped seams.  It's very weird to have them exposed this way, but I like that this quilt is so forgiving of mis-calculations and cutting errors!

I can't wait to see how it looks after it's been washed.

I really need to get moving on the wedding quilt I'm making my sister-in-law and her husband-to-be.  Their wedding is only 26 days away and I have a ton of work left to do!

Better get to quilting ASAP!

Monday, September 5, 2011

"Labor" Day

This is what I'm doing today, in place of any kind of "real" labor.

Can you guess what it's going to be?

Click here to see what I'm making!

Happy Labor Day!  Enjoy your last official day of summer vacation!  It's rainy and cold here so it's the perfect day for quilting.  I'm imagining this is what it's like to live in Seattle...

Pretty things to wear

When I found out that I was finally having a little girl after two boys, I was so excited.  I couldn't wait to sew adorable little dresses with frills and bows and ribbons.  Luckily for me, I gave birth to a daughter who's the perfect mix of girly-girl and tomboy.  You can often find her playing in the dirt and climbing on the jungle gym while wearing a sparkly holiday dress.  (Thank goodness for eBay and cheap dresses!  I'd probably have a heart attack if I saw her covered in mud while wearing a $50 dress.)  15 months ago, I got a new sewing machine and the fun began!

This was my first project after a very long absence from sewing.  I love how it turned out and that model of mine is pretty darn cute, too, isn't she?

Same pattern, different version of the dress.  This one was a "bubble" dress that had elastic at the bottom.  I later added a bow on a pin at the waistband because it seemed like it was missing something there.

A terrible cell phone photo of a pillowcase dress I made with a vintage pillowcase my MIL unearthed as she was cleaning out her late sister's house.  You can't really see the detail along the bottom, which is a shame because it's really beautiful.

Norah's (slightly wrinkled) Easter dress.  There are flower pins that should be along the waistband but someone took them off and lost them because they "really bugged" her.  There was also a matching purse, but that's since gone missing.  The girl child can be a bit high maintenance when she wants to be!

This year, I decided to make myself something to wear.  This was my Easter outfit.  The color on the photo is off, because the pink embroidery of the blouse fabric matched the pants perfectly.  The blouse turned out great but my first attempt at pants was not as successful.  I didn't do a very good job of reinforcing the seams before I trimmed them, and ended up with several blown-out seams before we even left for church!  Lesson learned, for sure.

I have a tendency to buy multiples of something I really like, and when I'm sewing, the same thing goes.  I loved this top so much I made it in 2 more fabrics.  It's been a go-to favorite all summer!

I hate that so much of the detail of this dress is lost in photos.  It was one of the most intricate garments I've ever made, and I was really proud of how it turned out.  It has a mandarin collar and pockets.  POCKETS!  Everything is better with pockets.  And I absolutely adore this fabric.  It was a dream to work with.

This lovely lady is my mom, wearing the blouse I made her for Mother's Day.  She loved it and looked so darn adorable in it.  This one was definitely challenging.  The pattern instructions were awful and I had to do a LOT of improvising.

Okay, this isn't something to wear, but it IS something I made.  I gave this to my mom as a little surprise.  It's a sunglasses case and a tissue cover.  This was my first experiment using the walking foot and quilting guide on my new sewing machine.  It was so much fun!

I have a drawer full of patterns (I can't get enough of those $.99 pattern sales!) and another drawer full of fabric, which I intend to use when the kids (finally) go back to school.  My next project is a corduroy jumper for the Divine Miss N.  Can't wait to start it!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Sometimes, I really do finish stuff.

A friend of mine loves the phrase, "My starter works great but my finisher is broken." That's a problem I have. There's a veritable cornucopia of unfinished projects stashed about my house. I'm really great at starting crocheting and knitting projects, but man oh man, do I stink when it comes to finishing them. My husband laments the amounts of money spent on the tote bags brimming with balls of yarn that have knitting needles or crochet hooks sticking out of them. Someday, I'll find the gumption (or mojo, or energy, or a craft stunt double) and complete something with yarn. (Though for the record, I have made a lot of scarves and several blankets that were given as gifts, so it's not like I never finish anything. Really!)

My mom and I visited my aunt and uncle in July, and my sweet Aunt Velma gave me three quilting books. My favorite was The Quilting Bible, which, for a quilting n00b like me, was worth its weight in gold. I spent long hours perusing the different techniques and patterns, and finally decided to try my hand at making pinwheels. A week and 99 pinwheels later, I started laying out the design of the quilt. I quickly realized I had waaaay too many pinwheels and culled my stash by a third. I decided to take the remaining 36 pinwheels and make a smaller quilt for my daughter. I laid the blocks out in a rainbow effect (the closest I could get since my colors weren't evenly divided), added sashing to mimic the rainbow look, then backed and bound the entire thing with red flannel. I wanted it to have a more casual, kid-friendly look, so I tied it instead of machine quilting. I'll admit--I rushed through the binding to get it done because a certain little girl was so anxious to have it, and I'm not 100% pleased with how it looks. But it made her happy and since it's just for us, it doesn't have to be perfect.

It's the perfect Norah-sized quilt!

Once I finished the little quilt, my quilting juices were really flowing! I got started on the twin-sized quilt with the rest of the pinwheels. This was also the first time I tried free-motion quilting. That was...interesting. Definitely a skill I will need to work on because it was a lot harder than I thought it would be!

The "big" quilt. C'est fini!

Other projects:

This is the first quilt I ever made.  I bought a quilt kit on clearance at one of those big discount stores and thought I got a great deal until I realized that the instructions were horribly inaccurate and there wasn't enough fabric to complete it according to how they told me to cut the material.  This was my first experience in having to use mah smartz and make it work.  This one was destined for the Christmas grab bag.  Several people wanted it--that was such a great feeling!

The top (because for some unknown reason I never took any photos of the finished quilt.  D'OH!) of the 8-bit Super Mario quilt I made for a friend's son.  Poor Sam is still waiting for his quilt.  I have the fabric, but the thought of cutting out nearly 300 squares is daunting enough to make me put it off.

A table runner I made with some gorgeous Moda "candy bars" I won.  (This colorway is called "Antique Fair".)  My mother swiped this the minute she saw it and it now graces the top of her coffee table.  This was the first project I made with my fancy new sewing machine.

Travel-sized tissue covers.  Quick, easy, and très jolie!

This one isn't finished.  In fact, it's torn apart right now because that bottom piece of the heart was just too wonky for me to let it slide.  Once it's evened out, I plan to add more strips of white (it's a bit too small as is) to the top and bottom, then a generous band of the white on white on all four sides.  It'll be backed with the third fabric from the top (in the heart) and bound with the leftovers from the jelly roll strips.  This one is going to be a wedding present for my SIL and her fiance.  This is a super-duper easy quilt and would be perfect for a beginner!  Another fabulous tute from Jera's blog.

It's funny, because now that I'm sitting down and listing the all of the things I've done, it seems like there should be more!  Or maybe it just feels like I'm always sewing something.  Very weird!  I'll do a separate post with pics of the clothing I've made.  Maybe that's why it feels like something is missing...


Ahhh, Joann Fabrics, you temptress, I cannot resist you and your holiday weekend sales and bonus coupons. And when you put the red tag clearance items on sale for half-off the lowest price, I want to give you big wet sloppy kisses! While I would love (and I mean LOVE) to be a fabric snob and only use super high-quality, fancy fabrics, my checkbook tells me that for now, I can only afford to buy fabrics at places like Joann.

Yesterday, I picked up about $125 worth of fabric for $15. There's just something about seeing that big pile of fabric in my quilting tote that gets me all hot and bothered. I have so many ideas and patterns bookmarked that it would take hundreds of yards of fabric to make everything. At least I can start something now!

I've been dying to make Norah a corduroy jumper for a while now. I found a cute pattern but corduroy is really expensive, and if I can't make something for less than I could just buy it pre-made, then I won't do it. This fabric was $2.50/yard. 2-1/2 yards cost me $6.11. Score!

I love this flannel! It's soft and cozy, and not too babyish. I've been hoping to make a rag quilt, and found a great tute on Jera's blog, which I absolutely adore. It's going to be simple, with just the two fabrics, which I will alternate to give it some interest. Don't know who the lucky recipient will be, but I think whoever it is will like it!

I want to add more fabric to this grouping. I'm really intrigued at the thought of using just black and white to create something. Don't you think these fabrics look gorgeous together?

I got three yards of this fabulous sheer material for a whopping $3. I think it was about $15/yard originally. It has gold metallic threads shot through it. *love* No clue what it's going to be, but I have some great blouse patterns and I think it would make a really pretty top.

This grouping is probably my favorite. I love the greens and browns and blues together! I've been scouring the internet for patterns and have narrowed my next big project down to two contenders: morning star or snowball. All that's left to do now is start cutting!

I have a lot more fabric stashed away, but these are the ones that are demanding my attention at the moment. (Does anyone else lie awake at night and think about their crafting? Sometimes I find that my brain goes a million miles an hour designing and redesigning over and over.)

Finally, I wanted to show a little love to two online fabric sites that I la-la-la-LOVE: Connecting Threads and Hawthorne Threads. Great prices, great customer service, fabulous fabric choices. You'll see quite a bit of their products in my quilts!

Friday, September 2, 2011

I do solemnly swear...

...that this is going to be the best blog EVER. Seriously! I'm going to even post stuff on it and everything.