Thursday, October 10, 2013

Bad, Bad, Blogger!

For some reason I kept thinking I had blogged about things, finding out later that I hadn't.

It's been a busy and stressful year in many ways, with the first half being plagued with a lot of uncertainties. Jeff and I did get engaged back in January, which was a wonderful event, and obviously not one of the stressful moments, though it did launch a few revolving around the planning of a wedding. Not long after that, a work relocation blipped onto the radar, adding to the stress levels. At that point we did decide to avoid a full-blown wedding, and changed it to a small intimate affair, held on June 21st, Midsummer. It was lovely, and shared with Miss Matilda and 3 of our close friends.

There was uncertainty about the final relocation destination, but around May-June Northern Virginia and the Washington D.C. suburbs became the destination.

In the time since, I haven't gotten to do as much sewing as I would have liked. Though in reviewing pictures I hadn't yet blogged about, more than I thought.

One of the works in progress is a Tula Pink Dreamweaver quilt, using her Birds and the Bees fabric:


Another is a Jaybird Quilts pattern, Chopsticks, using Wrenly and Kona solids:


One finish I accomplished that immediately went into a moving box was finally finishing my Flipside quilt, Rachel Griffiths' pattern, and using Kate Spain's Central Park fabric:


In May I finished a Tova in Denyse Schmidt fabric, which I wore in my engagement photos (which I need to dig up somewhere):


And then there was the Washi in Anna Maria Horner linen, that I sadly didn't manage to finish before our wedding, but is still gorgeous anyway.


I'll be doing more expansive posts about most of these projects, especially once they're out of the moving boxes! Our move is next week, the 18th, very exciting, and I can't wait. Among other things, I'll be near two modern quilt guild chapters.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Penelope's Quilt

Penelope's Quilt

A friend of ours and his girlfriend down in Washington D.C. recently welcomed an adorable little girl, Penelope, to their family. I wanted to make a quilt as a gift, and knew I'd give Elizabeth Hartman's Charm Square baby quilt pattern another spin. It comes together really quickly, and while I didn't use pre-cuts this time, because you can use a charm pack as well as cut from stashed yardage, it just gives you so many options.

Penelope's Quilt

I've got quite a bit of Denyse Schmidt fabrics now, from having a couple of her Free Spirit collections and some of the prints from the DS Quilts collections she's done for Joann's, and decided to gather a selection. The pattern uses 38 charms, so I picked a different fabric for each one, rather than double up. I did try and make the selection a little neutral, color wise. I didn't want it to be very obviously girly. You never know... there may be a sibling down the line, and said sibling could be a boy. Also not knowing their personal decorating style, versatility and neutrality seemed a good way to go.

Penelope's Quilt

For the sashing I went with Kona in Meringue. The other charm square baby quilt I made also used Meringue as the sashing color. While I like using white as the main solid in quilts, sometimes you just want something a little more colorful. The Meringue is a lovely soft color that doesn't drown out anything you pair it with. For the backing I picked one of the new Kona shades: Sprout. Like the Meringue it's a nice soft color, while also still being very fresh.

Penelope's Quilt

The quilting is just simple wavy lines... some movement, nothing overpowering. For the binding I was going to use Kona Sprout for the entire thing, and then I noticed some of the binding scraps I had sitting on my work table from 2 quilts I'd finished just previously. I noticed that the colors worked really well with the quilt, and decided to make the binding scrappy. So the binding is partially Sprout, and partially two Kate Spain prints, from Fandango and Central Park.

I will readily admit that I am frequently envious of people who can manage to just grab a stack of prints and have it work. It's one of the areas where I don't always feel as confident, and I did occasionally have small doubts. I pressed on regardless, knowing also that I will always be my worst critic, and I'm likely just being way too picky and self-conscious. Even while cutting and sewing I still felt insecure, and it wasn't until the end that I really felt very excited and happy with it. I'm glad I silenced my inner critic.

Penelope's Quilt

The pictures may seem a little more blue-grayish than is accurate. It was actually raining outside when I quickly snapped the photos, before getting the quilt off to the post office. It makes the Meringue look a little grayer, when it really is a lovely creamy pale yellow.

Penelope's Quilt

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Attempting the Washi Dress


There are a few patterns that float around the blogosphere that you see so often that eventually you just need to try. That's how I ended up making Anna Graham's 241 Tote, my Wiksten Tova dress, and now the famous Washi dress, by Rae Hoekstra.

I bought some Anna Maria Horner linen, Parenthetical in Deep, for the occasion. It's such an amazing print. I may have to get more to use to make an Art Student Tote, the pattern for which I bought a few weeks ago. And I may have to get some of Parenthetical in the cream color, and make another dress...

My first attempt at the Washi was definitely a failure. With three out of four measurements I fall right between M and L, and then an M for the fourth. Per the pattern description, the measurements are supposed to be somewhat generous, so I started off making a muslin in M and put it on. Way too tight!

Take two and I went for L. Still way too tight. This was rather mystifying. My measurements are smaller than the range for L (even measured over the top of a lightly padded bra), and I'm only a B cup. Searching on Google and resource links on Rae's Washi page pointed me to a couple of blogs and resources. The description of issues that might require a Full Bust Adjustment (FBA) certainly sounded like the problems I was having, but being a B cup and using a pattern that was supposed to accommodate B-C cups, it didn't make sense. The next alternative was moving the darts down and adding some length to the bodice. As that was the easier adjustment to make, I was going to attempt that first before the FBA.

While I was in the process of making those adjustments on the pattern and browsing Google to find other people's experiences I came across another blog post, Jen over at Made on the Couch in which Jen was having the same problems I was. She had found out that the problem was the pattern not having been printed at the correct scale. In her case it was 1/8" of an inch difference, which as she rightly pointed out isn't a lot on its own, but makes for a large difference over an entire pattern. I'd had the pattern printed by a friend at his job (I haven't owned a printer in a couple years), and while he'd supposedly printed it at 100%, it may have been the printer that just wasn't accurate. In my case, the difference was 1/16th of an inch. Not quite as big a discrepancy as Jen, but over the width of the front bodice, it adds up to 1 1/4 inch. Finally it made a lot more sense.

Once Jeff goes back to work and has access to the really nice and accurate printer there, I'll have him print the pattern again and will attempt Washi once more. In future I think I may also opt for a paper pattern rather than instant gratification if the option exists.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Lizzy House's Sparkle Punch Quilt

Back in August I started the process of cutting up strips of carefully hoarded collected Lizzy House fabrics from her Castle Peeps, 1001 Peeps, Outfoxed and Hello Pilgrim collections to make a Wonky Stars/Sparkle Punch quilt, per Elizabeth Hartman's quilt-along tutorial. Between the 4 collections I had enough to have a whole star out of each fabric without duplicates, and only needed to omit maybe 2 or 3 fabrics.

Lizzy House Fabrics

Lizzy House Fabrics

Lizzy House Fabrics

I still flinch a little inwardly thinking about the fact that I had to cut 384 3.5" squares, and that was just the white background fabric. So many squares!

The squares ended up living in a box for a while due to our move, and then went neglected through the holidays. Here and there I'd pull them out and sew points or press, and sew more points, etc. Finally about a week and a half ago I started assembling all the parts, and now I can strike that top off the To Do list! This weekend's weather has been lovely (though Jeff's allergies aren't agreeing with that at all!) and so I took it outside with another finish to photograph. Sadly that one will need me to take it outside another day and redo the pictures because they all managed to be slightly out of focus.

Sparkle Punch

Now I need to decide on what to back it with and how to bind it. I have some square components left and can make a number of scrappy stars. Beyond that, I'm not sure, maybe some Kona Ash or a slightly darker grey.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

241 Tote

Following the completion of one bag, I started on another: a 241 tote for myself, from Anna Graham's (Noodlehead) now-internet-famous pattern. A while before I'd bought the pattern, I'd picked up a home dec/canvas fabric on a trip to Ikea (where I also got some of that awesome grey-on-white numbers fabric, and noticed they have 20" x 20" pillow inserts for $6.99, "Fjädrar", should I get around to sewing pillow covers).

For other fabrics I dug into my stash, some Michael Miller Mini Mikes houndstooth, black-on-grey and grey-on-white for the sides, side pockets and interior slip pocket, and some Kona Medium Grey for the interior and Kona Ash for the zip pocket linings. The zippers are from Etsy, the Zipit store.


Anna's pattern is clear and the color photos are really helpful, especially if you're fairly new to bag making. I've found sewing bags can feel counter intuitive and a bit ass-backwards at times, though that could just be me. It should definitely not be held against the pattern that I had to redo some things and became fast friends with my seam ripper again. A lot of that has to do with my having gotten ahead of myself and wanting to go a bit too fast, or making some "DOH!" mistakes, and occasionally having made the mistake of trying to sew while both kids were home, awake and running amok. And being highly critical and wanting to redo some wobbly topstitching.

Lieam daring me to move the bag.

Things I'd do differently (or, per pattern suggestions) next time: Make one half of the pocket lining in the same fabric as the exterior, or at least something that matches better. I hadn't really thought about it that much, but after installing the zippers, and the way that it can still let slivers peek through of the lining on the edges of the stitching, the light Kona Ash was a bit more noticeable than I would have chosen. If you look closely at the picture, you can probably see what I mean, little light grey slivers around the zipper.

241 in Ikea home dec

Another change I'd make would be to add some kind of interfacing to the strap if you're using quilting cotton, or to use either webbing or a sturdier fabric. The lack of interfacing just makes the strap feel very light and flimsy, and I prefer it to feel a little stiffer. This is totally up to your personal preference.

The 241 Tote pattern has prompted me to jump on the next blogging band wagon, Anna's new divided basket pattern. Miss Matilda could use some cute storage like this for her ponies, cars and Barbie accessories, so they don't all get lost in the huge toy storage box in the kids' room. And I could use one in my room for some of the bedside flotsam and jetsam. There's no bedside table, and a basket to store the Kindle and things like lip balm and hand cream in, so the cats don't knock it off the bed frame's edge would be helpful.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Ending the Hiatus

Not long into 2013 I gave myself my first critical quilting injury. While trimming stars from my Wonky Stars/Sparkle Punch quilt, I zipped my rotary cutter across the top of the ruler, rather than alongside it, and ended up slicing off part of the tip of my left index finger. It was a planar cut that measured about 1/2" by 1/4" (but thankfully not too deep), so having it stitched wasn't an option, and it kept me out of commission for quite a few weeks while it healed.

It was pretty frustrating, as I had just been getting back into sewing after our move. However, a couple of days after the incident, Jeff surprised me by giving me something to dress up a different finger on my left hand, and gave me an engagement ring! So, in the coming months, there may be some wedding crafting going on.

In the past couple of weeks I've managed to get most of my star components done for the Wonky Star quilt, though every time I've tried to lay it out on the floor to figure out the layout, cats decide they need to run around it and mess up the components.

In the meantime I have also been working on some smaller projects. Last weekend I made a small backpack using the Fig Tree Quilts "Daisy Girl Backpack" pattern. Originally I'd gotten fabrics together to make one like on the cover, with Aneela Hooey's Sherbet Pips, but Miss Matilda decided later that she didn't really like those fabrics all that much, and as a project it just hit the "maybe later" pile. With one of Matilda's little pre-school friends moving to Singapore at the end of the month, I decided to make it as a going away present for her, one that would be a functional traveling gift.

Daisy Girl Backpack

Daisy Girl Backpack

Daisy Girl Backpack

I'm really happy with the end result, though I had a few issues with the pattern. My being a bit of a novice as far as sewing bags may have had something to do with it, but I found some instructions a little vague or confusing at times, and that could have been aided with more pictures, or clearer illustrations. There was also a mistake in the pattern with the slip pocket's measurements (folding a 7" x 13" piece in half is never going to give you 7" x 7" square). But, in the end it came out looking very nice, and the recipient was very happy.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Back Into The Swing

3.5 weeks in our new place, and we're mostly unpacked, and I have my sewing table set up and supplies mostly set up. A sewing table! My own space! No more sharing the dining table, which was inconvenient for both uses, and always somewhat stressful. That said, right now my sewing table is sharing with our little table top tree.

Dashiell admiring our mini tree

The first project here has been some mug rugs for the kids' teachers and aides. Dashiell has several people who work with him in and out of school, and have for the past 2 school years to, so I wanted to make something special for them. I've also wanted to try out the mini Churn Dash blocks from the Purl Bee blog. To this end, I cut into some of my Denyse Schmidt stash. Isobel immediately made herself at home on some of the strips. Cats have fabric radar, I swear.


Churn Dash in Progress

Partially Done

I tried to pick contrasting colors, somewhat high vs somewhat low volume when possible. I like the pairings of 3, but the last pairing I'm not entirely sure about, being the top left one.


Even with the colors in each part repeating back in ways, the navy, the orange (that's inside the little dots on the purple-ish fabric, and the fact that orange and blues work well, somehow I feel insecure about that one. It's probably mostly in my head though.

At present the little mug rugs measure about 8.5" square. I have 2 of each design, so that puts me at 8 mats so far. Now to dig up the batting from a box somewhere, and pick out some backing and binding fabrics!