Monday, May 7, 2018

Goals: (new) Retreat

Planning for a retreat with my newest quilt guild.  It's at an unfamiliar location, and extends for more days than I'm used to.  The retreat organizer said, "These are long, full days; bring more things to work on than you think you should."
Does she know who she's talking to???  I always bring too much (even when I'm just going to watch a tennis match).  I have gone completely overboard at times with how many sewing projects I bring with me, so this encouragement to "bring more" has me oddly confused.

On the list (so far)

1.  Quick Curve Ruler sampler
Worked on this at January retreat in Oregon, with the goal of finishing 4 blocks.  Finished 1 (due to distracting myself), but this is my main piecing goal for this retreat. (QCR patterns, including the Curve it Up Sampler I'm working on, available from Sew Kind of Wonderful; love this ruler!)

2.  Ruler/mat tote bag
I signed up for this class in March, but wasn't able to go due to illness.  Should be a quick make, and will be a most welcome item for toting my mats & rulers to future adventures.

3.  Black & white table runner
Finished (re)piecing the borders of this at a different retreat.  My goal here is to sandwich and machine quilt.

4.  Blanket stitch cats
The Relaxing Round Robin project of 2014 just waits around for me to be interested in hand embroidery.  Which doesn't happen often.  Last worked on over Winter Break.  Not even halfway thru those 8 pesky cats.

5.  Another Hawaiian-shirt-into-apron
This is a birthday gift, and should be a quick make.  Shirt is already cut; maybe I even cut the binding, too.

6.  Retreat project
We were told to bring red & blue strips and scraps for making some sort of string quilt.  I have a red that I'm dying to use up, so along it will come.

I think I have room for 9 projects, but I worry that the more "almost finished" projects I bring, the less I will work on my QCR sampler.  On the other hand, having a couple more items to be sandwiched and/or quilted might not be a bad way to spend retreat time.  I don't tend to "quilt" at home, due to my perceived lack of space. 

Or, I could bring a couple more of the always-put-on-the-back-burner hand stitching projects.  I find that stitching in a crowd makes the handwork less onerous.

Endless listmaking: does anyone else do this?

Thoughts?  Opinions??  Should I bring more than is listed here--maybe put the extras in a sealed box to be opened in case of emergency?  Or is this entire list and its associated angst just more evidence that my scattered brain simply refuses to stick to any sort of prioritized system?

Monday, March 19, 2018

Mondo Bag: finish it February

Does this ever happen to you?

You declare a goal: "finish it February".  Well, declare might be a strong word, considering I never actually told anyone, or wrote it down.  Not exactly the best way to go about goal-setting, from what I hear.

But in my mind, February was my month to finish things.  So very many UFO's.  And I kept leaving my projects so close to being done.

Challenge fabric: what would you make?

Then there is new and shiny.  My arch nemesis.  Don't get me wrong, this was not quite an out-of-the-blue new project.  The fabric was purchased in November as a guild challenge.  And the challenge due date was in February.  But I did completely change my mind at January's retreat as to what exactly I was gonna make for the challenge (which would be due in February--did I mention that I am a bit of a procrastinator?)

Voila, February finish: the Mondo Bag
Completely ignoring the UFO's grumbling from their corners, I went for it with zeal and gusto on a new project.  But, to my credit, I did manage to finish said project.  Does this ever happen to you???

And now I'm sharing all the details with you. Pattern-review style, here is my take on making the Mondo Bag.

Name of pattern:  
Mondo Bag, by Quiltsmart

Other, similar patterns: 
Quiltsmart offers the Midi Bag and Bitty Bag, smaller versions of basically the same technique (8" square bottom, 12" tall sides; 5-1/2" square bottom, 9" tall sides, respectively)

Pattern description:
Mondo [mon'-doh], Adjective - large, big: "This bag is so mondo, I can pack for a whole weekend!"  Adverb - very, extremely: "This bag is mondo cool, and mondo easy to make!"  Mondo unique assembly!  Make yourself a Mondo travel bag, or a Mondo diaper bag!

Pattern sizing: 
finished bag measures about 10" square at the bottom, with 17" tall sides. 

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern when you were done?

Were the instructions easy to follow?
A bit tricky, I'd say.  You need both the printed pattern and the printed fusible interfacing to make the bag (subsequent bags will need more interfacing).  The instructions for using the fusible interfacing (that is the basis for many of Quiltsmart's products) worked fine for me.  Additionally, there are a couple YouTube videos available (Quiltsmart's official Mondo video and online instructor Karen Dennison's version) that can help take you through the process more smoothly than the written instructions.  I have a lot of bag sewing experience, so I was able to work thru basic bag construction techniques that were a little skimpy, even in the videos. I plan to write up a separate post with some construction hints.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?  
I liked the fusible product for setting and stitching your squares together--worked like a charm.  I like the origami-like assembly technique that makes this bag--it is unique from any other bag I have made.  And this bag is darn roomy!  (I'm a little worried I might dislocate my shoulder if I load it up the way I do with my other bags.  My reminder: fluffy, bulky objects only; no armloads of books!)  I disliked the pocket option and I disliked the straps (so I changed them! see below)

Fabric used:
Quilting cottons and batiks.  The focus fabric was a Hoffman California screenprint (maybe a 2016 release?).  All other fabrics were from my stash, including the purple batik lining (yay, stashbusting!)  Interfacing was Pellon Fusible Fleece, my go-to for lightweight stability in many bag and kitchen sewing projects.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
Ooh, many!  In fact, one reason I waited so long to write this blog post was because I envisioned throwing lots of pattern hack/tutorial type hints up at the same time as showing off my finish.  But... I'm planning on blogging about my alterations, just not here.
  • Fabric placement (carefully considered design decisions here)
  • Two internal pockets added
  • Bag hardware for making the straps more attractive/stylish
  • Stabilizing the bottom for a flatter appearance

Would you sew it again?  Would you recommend it to others?
Yes and yes.  I have already been asked to teach this bag--both at the shop, and by my guild.  I really want to make one with 5" squares, so individual fabrics are shown off better.  I also have the Midi Bag pattern + interfacing pack on deck for a spring tote: same technique, different size.

I love this bag so much that I started using it before the topstitching was even done.(!)  The size is wonderful for toting those bulky nearly-finished quilting projects.  Would also make an awesome beach tote, as it's definitely of a size to cart along allll the towels.
If you have not made a bag before, this might not be the one to start with, however.

I finished a thing!
Thanks for following along.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

TGIFF: Hawaiian halter apron

Welcome to Thank Goodness It's Finished Friday, and presenting my First Finish of 2018!

This is only my 2nd time hosting (last was in October 2016, followed by a desert in my blogging presence).  What this means: you, too could be a volunteer host.  Do you have a New Year's Resolution to try new things?  Break out of your comfort zone?  Head on over to the tgiff link to sign up for a volunteer week (or two).
Happy birthday, cherub!

My finish this week is not the result of weeks or months of tedious work.  Nah, that would be the item I thought would be finished.  This week I celebrate a quick make: an upcycle (and a gift for my youngest cherub).

Before: a pair of Hawaiian print shirts, purchased at a thrift store because they reminded me of my recent vacation.  Actually a bit difficult to find said Hawaiian print shirts in cotton--mostly they are rayon.  But cotton is the better choice for an apron designed for actual kitchen use.

After: cute halter apron!

I couldn't find the instructions I used the last time I made one of these, so I just based my cuts and stitches on the apron at hand.  (I wear that one all the time.)

Made things intentionally a bit bigger, to better fit the recipient, but still threw a couple box pleats in the back.  Hope she likes it.

Now it's your turn:  Link up any finishes for this week and don't forget to stop by some of the other finishes--leave them some comment love! Grab the TGIFF button and link back to this post, so your  visitors can see other dynamite finishes.

Powered by...

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Report out: December goals & blogging

I set monthly goals for December (first time since March), so it's time to look back and see how I did.
At the same time, I signed up for 31 days of blogging in December, although it was clear at mid-month that 31 blog posts was not really gonna happen.  But 13 posts did happen, and that is a huge change.

December goal report

1.  Finish super-secret quilt Done!
Almost got to the recipient in time for Christmas.  But what a delight to see and hear how much she loved it.  Like giving birth...

2.  Finish baby quilt for Guild charity drive So close...
I put on the binding.  I removed the partial bits of my previous quilting, and I started tying the quilt.  Just didn't get it done in time.  So it got put aside in the pre-Christmas rush.

3.  Finish puppy pillow sham  Nope
This will eventually be a gift.  Just not for Christmas 2017.

4.  Hand-stitch binding on Circles BoM quilt  Again, so close...
I stitched while my son was visiting one December weekend (much good football watching).  But alas, still have about 12" left.

5.  Make/complete 3 blocks for Woven BoM  Done!
Updated the display at the shop, with Four completed blocks.  Looking good!

6.  Finish 2 chirimen samples  Nope
7.  Finish "C is for Chicken" book  Nope
8.  Memorial stockings for the siblings  Nope
Did not touch any of this in December.

What happened?
Well, I actually picked up a totally different unfinished project.  Hand work.  Traveled nicely when I went to see family and friends at many holiday gatherings.

There are eight cats to blanket stitch outline on this twin-sized quilt top--a project started in 2014 (and stalled significantly since then).  I suppose I could look back at my December goals to analyze why I went so astray of what I said I wanted to work on.  But, ya know, it was a holiday month, so I think I'm gonna just let it be.

To recap: some cute cats got their blanket stitch on, my largest ever quilt was completed and sent to its forever home, and I still love to sew, regardless of my perceived productivity in any given month.

Happy stitching to me!  And happy 2018 to us all!

Sunday, December 31, 2017

1930's Scrap Quilt finish

I'm happy with posting all these finished projects!  This quilt *may* have been done in 2016--it was certainly well used over the course of this year.

 Last appeared on the blog in June 2016; I had just finished piecing the back at retreat and dropped it off at the long-arm quilter.

Jayne is such a wonderful quilter!  This is the 3rd quilt she's done for me, and I don't think I said much more than, "Please do something in line with the nature of the 1930's timeframe."  She created an amazing border treatment of feathers and waves in the scrappy-cream negative space.

I didn't really love my pieced back, but the quilting really improved its likabiliity.  And has not diminished my using the quilt this year.  It's one of my favorites for napping on the couch.

Successful scrap quilt!  Made from someone else's cast-off scraps, even.  And made entirely from stash, including using up all of a 20+ year old piece of background fabric.

Thanks for a great 2017!  More completed projects need to show up on the blog, and more in-process reporting should happen as the backlog of the unblogged gets sorted through in 2018.

See you next year.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Grandmother's Fan Pillow finish

Look, another finished item makes it into the blog!  This was one of my goals to finish in March, and I had to confess that I still hadn't finished it by July.

I used a pre-printed muslin backing to make the Grandmother's Fan block from an assortment of blue fabrics that were leftovers from making another pillow (not yet blogged).  Probably my favorite aspect of this pillow was the Man About Town background fabric from Northcott Studio.  (I have since purchased another big length of it--too versatile not to have more of this.)

This same fan was previously seen in pink fabrics, from a challenge block I made in January.  I also have a few more of these fan blocks made up, in Japanese indigo fabrics.  And I have yet more of the printed muslin, just no plans for it...

Meanwhile, loving this finished pillow!

Friday, December 29, 2017

She Likes It! Christmas Quilt Unwrapped

Now that the Christmas dust has settled, and the shredded wrapping paper gone to the bin, I can happily report on the largest quilt I've ever made: she likes it!

Here is the inspiration.  A painting from her house, that her husband said encapsulated the kind of art she likes.

Also, "her favorite color is purple."  These are the fabrics I pulled.

And I put them together pretty much in that order, using a variation on Elizabeth Hartman's Metropolis pattern from her book Modern Patchwork

One quilt "block".  King size.  Purple?  Check.  But not quite in line with the inspiration artwork.  No problem, this quilt has 2 sides, I'll just make it reversible!  And so, I moved far far away from my comfort zone...

Bought a giant swath of stunning fabric: Discovery Tree, from Frond Design Studios (whose mission is "to keep hand-designed art in fabric") and started playing around on my design wall.  My main concern was how to let the fabric be the star--not cut it up into blocks and lose all its fabulousness.

I had one repeat of another Frond fabric, Metamorphosis Hurricane, so I worked to insert one of its motifs into the fiery party.  And I was off and running!

"Running" is not quite the right word for it.  Despite using a free-form, improv cutting and piecing technique, I was tortured about every cut and placement.  I spent hours deliberating over which fabrics to insert, as I gently pried apart the flames to inject variety and break up the five repeats within the main fabric.  Used two different colors of Moda Grunge fabric along the top and bottom, but continued the set-in bits of color there as well.

So worth it!  The look on her face, the squeals of "I can't believe you made this for me." And, "How did you manage to keep this a secret for a whole year?"  Yep, Christmas joy, right there.

Thanks for reading along this far.  I have a tendency to gush over my completed projects.  It's the main reason I started blogging: to track my finishes, and to tell a complete story with each quilt.

Since this is such a big finish, I'm linking up with TGIFF

hosted this week by Kathy's Kwilts and More.  Follow the link to see some other amazing December finishes--I think many of us have been keeping mum on Christmas projects.

To Cathy. Love, Alla