Thursday, June 25, 2015

T-minus 4 Days

Sweetie is getting ready for a big trip.  Plane takes off 4 days from now.  And she's all packed already!

Pre-packing--last week! Making sure all clothing was washed, patched, and would fit in the duffel

Maybe you aren't astounded by this level of preparedness, but I am flabergasted.  Granted, she will be gone more than a week.  And she's leaving the country.  And lots of specialty and technical equipment is involved.  But still... how???

About 2 weeks ago the technical bits were getting checked & prepped
I need to take note of this process, because I, too, am traveling in the coming month--a week-long trip that involves me transporting several boxes and bins to different places.  No opportunity to "just pick up another one at WalMart" if I forget something important--and lots of important is in the bins.

  • It's really never too early to start getting ready (that extra bedroom holds pre-pack items very nicely)
  • Packing checklists are helpful--especially if you actually check the items on the list
  • Once you are done packing, you can relax until it's time to leave for your trip
  • Murphy's Law operates less maliciously for those who plan ahead

Bon Voyage, Sweetie!! I promise to get ready for my trip before the last possible minute.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Bags, bags, bags

Customer came into the shop with a super-cute bag (it had frogs on it!!!) that her friend had made.  I asked the name of the pattern (since we sadly don't sell patterns--just books and magazines); was able to find that pattern on Craftsy when I got home. (The Convertible/Reversible Bag by cozy nest design)  Now I'm Jonesing to make that bag.


I've been looking for a bag pattern I might teach at the shop.  I feel like zippers are a source of stress for some people, so I've been especially keen on bag patterns that include zippers: which one(s) have potential?
(And if you can mix a lot of fabrics within a single bag, that's a bonus!)


Triple-zip bag
A zippered pouch I found on Debbie's blog, A Quilter's Table.
Pros:  free pattern; online tutorial; extra construction tips from a 2013 sew-along; uses 3 zippers; innovative hiding of the zipper endings; and lots of cool fabric mixing is encouraged.

Sew Together bag
A compact bag to hold your sewing or crafting stuff when you go off to stitch with friends.
Pros:  multiple uses for all the pockets--could be a gift for anyone; pattern is from an indie designer; online sew-along/tutorial plus extra tips for making sense of the pattern/directions; uses 4 zippers; main zipper cleverly becomes handles and allows bag to open fully;  fabric-mixing on this pattern can be addicting.

Bionic Gear bag
A more-specialized-but-incredibly-similar bag to the Sew Together bag.
Pros: pattern is from an indie designer (and was a 2014 Craftsy pattern winner!); has a whole host of YouTube video tutorials to help make sense of the pattern/directions; uses 5 zippers; fully open bag features a "tray" to corral your unruly notions; several bag accessories are available for more personalization and further stitching fun.

Winner: Sew Together Bag

Made up this pattern at Something To Crow About spring retreat, while several other campers were stitching the Bionic Gear Bag at the same time.  We did some compare and contrast to the steps, the helpfulness/thoroughness of the directions, and individual preferences for tweaks we might make (e.g. hand-stitch vs. machine-stitch the bindings; use an even-longer main zip.)  We all agreed that video and/or classroom assistance was pretty much mandatory in getting either project put together with minimal hair-tearing/cursing.

Love that my bag was made entirely with scraps and fat quarters.  Love that it makes use of the last of a long-stashed vintage-looking Hula Hoop fabric.  Love how well my machine handled both the zippers and the heavy layers of binding.  Love how useful this bag will be!!!

And I'm already pulling fabrics for my next Sew Together Bag.  I want to try a sexy zipper for the main zip (the one that becomes the handles).  And really want to teach this bag at New Pieces... stay tuned! 

And another bag detour...

Row by Row bag

Ya know, I am never satisfied with minimizing my multi-project involvement.  Row by Row Experience started this past Sunday, and I saw this tote bag as a way to incorporate one of those cute license plates I have been coveting.  No zippers, so it's not a candidate for me to teach as a class.  But I pulled out some fabrics to see what might look good together.

Hmm, Sweetie thinks it's a bit much...

Couldn't resist.

Fabric Destash accounting. Used on the Sew Together Bag:
Yardage Used: 3/4 yds

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Yellow & Gray

[Is it Gray or Grey?  Grammar Girl gave me both the answer, and some simple ways to keep the spelling variants sorted out in my head in the future.  Umm, that was a bit of brain distraction...]

Block challenge at Something To Crow About Spring/Summer Retreat (aka Quilt Camp): make a block of your choice using yellow and gray fabrics; block should finish out at 12" square.

Ooh, I love block challenge!  Such freedom to experiment and move out of my normal comfort zone, or just practice a new technique, in a small, controlled way.  What would you make?  What style of block does this color combination make you think of?

Am I alone in feeling that yellow and gray makes me think modern?

Challenge blocks: traditional vs. modern vibe
Well, clearly there were some blocks that were more modern than others.  In fact, I was initially a bit stunned at the collection of more traditional blocks, made with more traditional fabrics.  (I should have known better, given the primitive/Thimbleberries aesthetic of the shop sponsoring retreat.  But I forget.)

I knew that I wanted to make a yellow and gray challenge block using a fat quarter of elephant fabric I have had for 10+ years. 

And given the large-scale of the fabric, I wanted to showcase those lovely pachyderms!

I borrowed an idea I saw from Sew Peace to Peace, who blogged her Have a Latte design back in April.  Jana shared that her woven accent strips were made with a 1/2" bias tape maker, but that these particular strips were cut on-grain (not bias). 

I love this block!  (Excuse my poor photography; the applique strips look a lot more wavy here; the lines are less wonky in person.) Used Fairy Frost from Michael Miller fabrics for some of the strips, but threw in a yellow gingham for contrast as well.  The underlying elephant fabric was not cut or pieced in any way--win for the large-scale print.

Not satisfied with only ONE block, I ended up challenging myself TWO more times.

Made up a piecing pattern to approximate this pillow block that I had seen at a Modern Quilt Show in the spring.

Does this block look like a decent approximation?  Used another fabric with a bit of a large image--the hula-hoop kids.  I also felt like the red of the girl's dress might detract from the overall yellow+gray aesthetic... Oh well, I think it's cute, and I enjoyed the challenge of how-do-I-make-that-block?

Finally, I made a pretty block to mimic a design I saw in a trendy & fun quilt shop, Hip Stitch in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  Although made up entirely of half-square and quarter-square triangles, this design definitely led me in a modern direction.

Doesn't this block, in these colors, make you swoon?  I'm such a fan of mixing the traditional with the modern.  I love scrappy, too, so I scoured my yellow scraps to build this masterpiece.  Love!

Okay, so I made my THREE yellow & gray challenge blocks.  And they joined all the other blocks made for fun.  This is how they all looked together:

Quite a variety, eh?  Another of the things I like about block challenge is seeing what everyone comes up with.  Raffle was held on the last day of Retreat.  I did not win, but I am super happy for the winner, and hope she brings back her completed quilt next year for us to ooh and ahh.

Great Fabric Destash accounting:

Fabric In:  1/2 yard (bought fat quarters of both the fairy frost and the main gray I used)
Fabric Used:  1/2 yard (the two blocks created from pieced fabrics + scraps; I also gave away the rest of the elephant fat quarter to the block winner)
Net Destash:  0 yards
How far to meet my goal? (still) 105-2/3 more yards

Monday, June 8, 2015

Me-Made May: Strong Finish

Done with the month of May.  So how did it go?

With one day's exception, I wore something every single day during May that fit the spirit of Me-Made.  And I didn't resort to wearing my Me-Made pajamas extra-long into the daytime and calling it good, either.  I stretched.  I challenged.  I completed my pledge to wear at least one self-made or restyled item each day during the month.

And at the end of the month, on the very last day, I wore a restyle that had not been started until that week.

The Candidate

Brown linen flirty skirt with raw edge detailing.  Very hippie, down to the drawstring waist.  Only problem? That waist was not fitting me anytime ever again (if it ever really did fit me back in the day.)
What to do, what to do?  Zipper is the obvious solution.

Step One

Inserted a big zipper in the back--exposed, to keep the young, flirty vibe.  Stabilized with a little interfacing, since everything is on the bias in this skirt.

And... I wore it like that! 
Waistband is still sitting on the sewing table, waiting for a solution.  Need to reattach it, to mitigate the whole stretchy-bias issue.  But it's got a drawstring in it, which is obviously no longer needed.  And it is now too short, as there is a zipper opening to contend with.  So I'm back to the "what to do, what to do?" dilemma.  And here I sit.

But it was a win for the final day of Me-Made May; I was wearing that cute brown skirt.  Rescued from the mending pile.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Retreat: what to take with?

I am so distracted lately, can't stay put on one project or one goal, it seems.

I have a quilting retreat coming up the end of this month, so I started thinking about what I might bring along with me to work on.  I always bring too much, because ADD.  Plus, you just never know what you will be in the mood to settle down and work on.

Made a little list: 20 items on it.

Well no wonder I'm distracted.  Sheesh.  Who could concentrate on anything with that much quilty noise clattering around in their head?

Going back to goals has helped me to narrow my focus in the past...
Goal for May - finish 3 home decor items
Goal for year - use up 100 yards of fabric

Well, apologies to Sweetie, but I'm not working on home decor at a quilt retreat.  Therefore, I need to focus on things I can finish, so that I can count some of the fabric I used in making them in my 100 yard destash.

Ok, wanting to pare down my list to 5 items--I think I've decided on 7.  I'll just sit on those seven choices for the rest of this week and see how that makes me feel.

1.  Block Challenge
Each year at retreat there is a block challenge--your option whether to participate or not.  I have made some fun blocks in the past, and even won one year.  This year the challenge is to make a 12" block with gray and yellow.  I have this long-stashed fat quarter of elephants.  Gonna make at least one block for the challenge.

2.  Wordy Wallhanging
This is a pretty old UFO (2011 was its humble beginning) that has been waiting to be sandwiched and quilted.  Gonna do it--I even have the batting and backing all stored with the top.

3.  Binding for Technicolor Star
This has been quilted and is just waiting for the final step.  Can't wait to pick it up from the long-arm quilter and see it!

4.  Crochet Rug
This project is actually past its deadline (a March birthday), but will definitely provide me with an alternative activity if I get tired of sewing.

5.  Red/Pink/Black baby quilt
Finish the quilting, which is already in progress, and really needs more space for me to spread out.

6.  Barnyard Play Quilt
A long-stalled UFO.  Too many steps to complete this at retreat, but maybe I can get the sky and the grass quilted.  (And just maybe, by the time there are grandchildren in my future, I will have this baby completed.)

7.  Sew Together Bag
A new project!  Bought the pattern from SewDemented on Craftsy, and have a thought to maybe teach its construction at my LQS (I heard that quilters can be hesitant around zippers).  If that is to be, I would need to have constructed it myself, right? 

Seven little projects.  Are they the proper projects for retreat?  If I get hives or can't sleep because these choices are stressing me out, I will know I need to revisit my list.  True?

Monday, May 18, 2015

Sneaky Scraps

Scraps can be pesky--always underfoot, multiplying with abandon (despite your best efforts to eradicate them), mocking you from the safety of their bins and baskets.

One particularly intrepid band of scraps found its way under my sewing machine's needle this past week and demanded I stitch them up.  Cheeky bastards!

These particular scraps were given to me by my stitch-n-bitch friend Pam, after she completed a 1930's quilt for her daughter.  I spent some mental energy in January coming up with a plan for sewing them together, but put them aside as a project for later.

Apparently, *later* is now.

Love those 1930's prints. Sigh.

Made 25 simple 16-patch blocks.  Woop, zoop, sloop!

And, since Monday is vacuuming day and the rugs are all clean, I hadta lay out a few of them to see how they might look with a stash fabric in alternating blocks.

Hard to see, but the stash fabric is actually a very light, small-scale yellow stripe.  Since the only thing I made from it was a couple of baby bibs (and my youngest child is now 22), I'd say it has been in my stash long enough.

Mmmhmm, those sneaky scraps have done it: blindfolded me and made me start another quilt.

What am I to do?  I am helpless in the face of such a coordinated assault...

Linking up with Oh Scrap! hosted each week by Cynthia over at Quilting is More Fun than Housework.
Quilting is more fun than Housework

Check out some of the inspired scrap-work that's going on over there!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Finished: table topper

Celebrating a modest sewing finish: reversible topper for the buffet.

Side 1: blue striped

This was the fabric I bought in February because it was my Mom's favorite color.  I used all of the 1/4 yard remnant, then bordered it with a long-stashed (where were you in 1994?  I was at the fabric store!) navy blue twill to make the topper an appropriate size.

Side 2: celestial print

Looking for an idea for the reverse side that would still make use of the navy twill, I found a celestial print within my scrap box.  The way this side is pieced was very much dictated by the size and shape of the scraps I was working with.  I love how the copper/gold touches in the fabric go so well with the color of the wood in the buffet.

Happy that this home decor item got made entirely from stashed fabrics!  Also happy that I didn't go too crazy with fabric choices; this actually complements the dining room, rather than calling attention to itself in a flamboyant way.

Yardage Used: 1/4 + 1/4 + 3/4 = 1 1/4 yds

Feeling accomplished on a Monday.  What are you working on today?