Monthly Archives: November 2012

A Bunch of Firsts and a Finish!

My first fabric purchase, my first English Paper Piecing, my first zipper, my first pillow!

Flea Market Fancy was my first fabric purchase last April and it sat in a neat little stack for quite a while after I purchased it. Then one night I decided to cut squares from the corners. Armed with a package of 2″ hexie papers and a needle, I went to work basting. A couple of nights later I had this piece of patchwork and was hooked on sewing. My initial thought when I included this pillow in my Fourth Quarter FAL list, was to hand quilt it. After spending so much time this past month QAYG, I changed my mind and went for a quicker finish. I really enjoy the spirals and I feel like this is the one part of the project I did a good job on.

I’m especially proud of my beginning circle, which is about the size of a quarter. I was able to do it with my walking foot, going extremely slow. There’s a slight bobble on the second ring, but you don’t notice it unless you look really close.

Then I turned to Sew Katie Did and her invisible zipper tutorial. I’ve dreaded zippers for a while now and decided I just needed to jump in and do it. The only problem I had was sewing over the zips a couple of times when I feared I wasn’t getting close enough. It didn’t dawn on me that after I was done sewing it would roll up again, so I didn’t need to get that close. It is tight! But that’s okay, I just have to be careful.

I’m not sure what’s up with that wonky left hand corner. I adjusted the insert a couple of times, but will probably have to go back in and square things up a bit. For now I’m going to sit back and admire all those pretty prints and cross this project off my list.

Linking up to:
from blank pages… for A Celebration of Beginnings linky party
Making Rebecca Lynne for TGIFF!
Crazy Mom Quilts  for Finish It Friday
Eventually to the Fourth Quarter FAL at Quilter in the Gap

WIP Wednesday: 11.28.12

The Good, The Horrifying and The Stitching

The Good: I had a little bit of a treat over Thanksgiving. What started out as a poorly timed rabies shot, ended up as three days at home by myself. Hubby took the six kiddos to his parents house, leaving me and the animals to our own devises. On Thursday I had a pretty bad case of missing my kiddos, but I bucked up and enjoyed my time alone. I also got my Color Bee Shocked bee blocks done through the end of the year and my November Empower at do. Good Stitches blocks completed and ready to send out.

I still love those pinwheels, especially in this gorgeous color combination. There is a lot of trimming involved, so it is an excellent block to send out for a bee project.

The Horrifying: Then I got some extremely upsetting news that hasn’t left my thoughts since the moment I heard. The precious baby that distracted me from blogging a couple of weeks ago was in the hospital. At only six weeks old that is worrisome in and of itself. But after being there for several hours, his leg was broken during a procedure. Not fractured, but a jagged break. His femur was at a peak in his little leg. Just thinking about it again now, makes my heart hurt. Can you just imagine how his parents feel? Fortunately, they have family and friends supporting them. It’s going to be a couple more weeks before they know for sure how this happened. It is such a rare thing, I’m praying that he doesn’t have a condition that made him susceptible.

The Stitching: By the time my family got home and I had some time to process this news, I was in need of serious stress release. My two big projects require floor space, but after being gone for a couple of days, it just wasn’t going to happen. I have other projects cut and ready to go, but I didn’t want to start another big project before I cleared some WIPs and I really didn’t want to think. I joined a Christmas charm swap on Flickr earlier this Fall, so I decided to pull them out and see what I could come up with. I chained pieced pairs, then four and so on until I had 17 rows of 15. I took a break to lay it out and make sure there were no major problems with where the blocks landed. The 17 rows became eight, then four and finally one. Somewhere along the way they got out-of-order, but no matter. I turned to fabric leftover from cutting my charms for the swap and whipped up some binding. Then dug around in the cupboard until I found a piece of flannel I’d bought for another project that ended up being the wrong color. All that is left is baste, bind, done.

I will never get tired of simple, straight forward patchwork. As a bonus, no marking, pressing, pinning or much thought at all went into the making of this quilt top. By next week, I should have a finished cuddly Christmas quilt to share.

Linking up to WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced.

First Snow!

The kids were delighted this morning to see the first flakes of the season fall. When my oldest was a toddler, we had a special poem for the first snowfall of the year. I wish I could remember it. It would be better than listening to “It’s snowing, it’s snowing, it’s really really snowing” from Barney sung on repeat a hundred times. As the colder weather arrives, it’s time for me to break out the unfinished hats and scarves from last Spring. Josie is the only one with a complete matching set, so I have some work to do. Her hat is a little big, but I know it will shrink when I wash it and I want to sew in a band of thin fleece on the inside to make it extra snug and warm.

I loved making this pom-pom for the top and I think it’s my favorite part. Wishing you all a great Monday. I’m linking up to Plum and June’s Let’s Get Acquainted Link-Up. After reading her post today, I have a new item on my to sew list… a crochet hook case? Absolutely!

Sunday Stash: Going Dotty

The worst thing about being a new quilter is seeing all the wonderful scrappy quilts made from stash and not having a stash of your own. The best thing about being a new quilter is being able to create a stash from scratch. What a great opportunity to make sure that every fabric you sew with is a favorite! As I’ve bought fabrics over the past six months, both entire lines and individual fabrics, I’m beginning to learn what type of fabrics I reach for time and time again. Since I like all things scrappy, I’m all about little bits of a lot of different fabrics. Like most quilters I like having a good stock of fabrics that are primarily one color in different patterns mixed with white. Of course that includes lots of polka dots in all shapes and sizes. When I heard that The Quilt Studio in Omaha was having a fat quarter sale this past weekend, I went with the thought of filling out a few colors in my stash particularly those colors that I didn’t have in polka dots. Knowing they have a large collection of art gallery fabrics, I hoped that I might snag a few oval elements, but really any polka dot fabric would do. Imagine my delight when I came home from this…

At a dollar a fat quarter, I couldn’t bear to leave any of these in the bin. I could just sit and look at these wonderful colors all day. I couldn’t resist playing with a few of them right away. After I finished up a couple flying geese blocks for December Color Bee Shocked, I had to make a few more for my sampler quilt. Ahhhh, polka dots…

I’m still a bit giddy.
Linking up with Sunday Stash at Finding Fifth

TGIFF: Learning Curves

As I’ve experimented with different projects, I’ve tried to tackle the independent parts of the quilting process and improve on them as I go.

  • Cutting ~ I feel like I have this down. I’ve established a pattern of lining up my fabric along the same spots on my ruler and cutting mat and feel like I’m pretty consistent.
  • Piecing ~ I’m doing pretty good with my 1/4″ seam allowance. My first project was all over the place, but the last couple of things I’ve pieced have measured exactly right in the end. Sewing bias cuts are another story…
  • Basting¬†~ I’m still trying to figure this one out. My first quilt sandwich went well and I didn’t have any puckers along the back. The project I finished up this past week, didn’t have puckers, but wasn’t quite right either. More on that in a bit.
  • Quilting: QAYG ~ So far so good.
  • Quilting: Walking Foot ~ Until this week I had only done straight lines. This week I tackled curves
  • Quilting: FMQ ~ Nope. Haven’t even tried
  • Binding ~ Machine binding attempts have been nightmares. Hand binding not so bad. Although this week I decided to use a ladder stitch instead of a whip stitch and I don’t like it nearly as much.
  • LOVE! ~ Done.

My finish this week is pretty simple. I had some extra blocks from my Tula Pink Birds and the Bees Dream Weaver quilt, so I decided to make a small topper for one of our dressers. I’ve wanted something to protect the finish for a while and since it’s a tall dresser and you can’t really see the top, it was the perfect opportunity to experiment.

Piecing it wasn’t a problem and it didn’t take long to get it all pinned up. I decided to experiment with my walking foot and used the Ribbons design from Petit Design Co. This was a really fun design to execute and I couldn’t be more thrilled with how it turned out on the front.

I really found a rhythm and while I marked most of it before hand, I felt free to improvise as I went along. The back is another story. There are no puckers and the following picture is post ironing, so it emphasizes the bunching of the fabric. I’m not really sure how bad it is. If it were the back of a quilt, I’d be happy with it, knowing that it would crinkle nicely after being washed. But as a table runner type piece, I would have preferred it to be more taut.

Clearly I didn’t pull it tight enough when I was basting. I even had a bit of a problem with it bunching when I sewed down the binding. My question is how do you know how tight to pull it? I’ve concentrated so much on not stretching my fabric when piecing and pressing, especially as I’ve attempted bias edges, so I’m hesitant to pull hard. I’m also wondering if I was pulling the top too tight as I was moving it through the machine. For the most part I kept my hands flat on the fabric and tried to provide a little tension by easing the fabric to the sides.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m THRILLED with how the quilting came out on the front. I love this design. In fact, I wish I could do the same thing on a baby quilt. I’m learning as I go though, so would appreciate any insight you would have that would help me improve.

Project Stats:
Fabric: Tula Pink Birds and the Bees
Back and Binding: Kona Parchment
Finished Size: 28.5″ X 15″
Finished Date: November 2012

Thank Goodness It’s Finished Friday! at Sewing by Moonlight and to
Finish it up Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts.

WIP Wednesday: 11.21.12

Last week was an insanely busy week of sewing and posting. After focusing on the Scrappy Stash QAL, Tula Pink Sew Along and Travelin’ PicStitch Blog Hop, I was in need of a little break. I have one more commitment to finish up (one that is overdo and making me feel incredibly guilty), but I seem to have a mental block to work through. I’ve never made a bag before and although the pattern I have is well-written and straight-forward, I’m overwhelmed by the idea of it.

In the meantime, I started on bee blocks. I have wanted to take part in online bees for a while, but hadn’t found an opportunity. Then all in one month, I became a part of four different ones. Since I’m still tentative, I decided I wanted to make practice blocks first, especially before I cut into other people’s fabric.

First up is a circle block for Color Bee Shocked:

The only requirement was that there be a circle of some kind. I saw Susan Staden’s post on Canadian Abroad and shamelessly stole her idea. She wisely used freezer paper to construct her segments (I used copier paper) and used the template to iron under her circle (I just used my eyeballs). Needless to say, hers looks much better than mine! When I make the actual block for my bee mate, I will paper piece it and use a circular template to iron it under. I had never appliqued before and I’m actually pretty pleased with how that part came out.

Next was Wonky Pin Wheels for Empower at do. Good Stitches:

This block was made following this tutorial at Greenleaf Goods and liked the way it came together. So simple and easy to chain piece, but with a stunning result. I did adjust the layout slightly for my practice block so it would look better as a stand alone block in a sampler. I love the colors chosen for our bee and am looking forward to finishing these blocks up.

Then it was time to choose blocks for the 3 X 6 Mini Bee.
This was my first time trying out paper piecing so I picked what looked like an easy block:

I chose Tallahassee from Quilter’s Cache. Note to self, just because it only has four areas of printed fabric, doesn’t make it an easy block. The thick seams tripped me up a bit, especially when it came time to sew the last four sections together. When I make these for my hive, I will start sewing the last seams from the center working out. This block took the longest by far, but the end result is definitely worth it!

Finally I chose this woven block for 3 X 6 Mini Bee Sampler Hive:

I loved Jessica Kelly from SewCraftyJess Simply Woven Quilt pattern as soon as I saw it at Moda Bake Shop. In fact, I have two jellyrolls of Simply Color on my wishlist to make the twin size quilt. These blocks are pieced to be joined together with an even amount of background between each strip. Since they will be used independently as bee blocks, I am going to make the center background squares slightly smaller, so there is more background showing around the edges when they’re pieced with different blocks.

I really like how these all look together so far. I chose the same colors I’m using for the 3 X 6 Mini Bee (Scrappy Spectrum) for my prints and then chose low-volume neutral and text prints for my background fabrics. I know I’ve done this before, but I’m not tired of it yet.

On the agenda for next week…
1. Suck it up and make some bags ~ I’m going to make this my first and primary priority. I think it will go quickly once I get started, I just need to push myself over the hump. I know I will feel much better once it is done.
2. Bee Blocks!

That should be plenty. I’m linking up to WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced.

Travelin’ PicStitch Blog Hop: Remembering to Look Up

Welcome to With Arms Open Wide for my stop on the Travelin’ PicStitch Blog Hop

My name is Caryn and I’m new to both sewing and blogging. So new in fact, that I haven’t even had a chance to properly introduce myself here. I’m mom to six great kiddos ages 17, 8, 7, 6, 4 & 4 and am constantly running behind. Everyone assumes my younger two are twins, but they’re actually four months a part. We were a foster family specializing in medically fragile children for several years and had the blessing of adopting four of our daughters. We grew from a one child family to six child family in a mere 3 1/2 years and three of them had complicated medical issues. Sometimes I look at the chaos surrounding me in a home of eight people, two cats, two guinea pigs and a puppy and wonder whose life this is and how did I get here?! In fact, it’s only been recently that I’ve had a chance to catch my breath and take a look around. While I will continue to be in the season of my life where “mom” is my most important role, I also realize that to be my best I need to nurture my creativity. I stumbled upon the modern quilting blogging community late last winter and haven’t looked back.

So here we are on the Travelin’ (um, not so much, since I’m terrified of being alone with my kids in a car for more than thirty mins) Pic (not a lot of that either, good thing my phone has a camera), Stitch (yup, pretty green in this category too) Blog Hop (there’s a first time for everything, right?) where I’m supposed to share a picture from my travels, create a palette from its colors and use that palette to inspire a block using EPPing. The only part of that I know anything about is EPPing. Sitting on a park bench last month thinking about what I would do, I really was stumped. I turned to capture some pictures of my kids on the swings when I noticed how blue the sky was in one of them. It’s amazing what happens when you remember to look up. I’ve lived my whole life in the Midwestern United States, first Kansas and now Nebraska. As a child I always wanted to live near something with geographical interest, water, mountains, woods… And yet, my surroundings of fields and wide open spaces also have their own subtle beauty. On this particular day, the leaves had turned on the trees and while the ground below was blanketed, they were not yet bare.

I love quirks, moments that catch you by surprise with an unexpected turn, contrasts that give you a glimpse into a completeness you didn’t know exists. Naturally, this picture of vibrant golds and oranges against a clear deep blue sky, caught my fancy. It’s as if I never saw the warm glow of orange for what it really is until it was set against that backdrop of a perfect blue sky.

I decided to interpret this with a star flower with blue diamonds as a backdrop. I pulled oranges from my scraps that had the deepness of the red oranges and touches of the lighter gold. Knowing that my LQS had just gotten in V & Co’s Simply Color in stock, I decided the blue ombre would make a great background. When I cut my diamonds from the blue, I tried to select a spot where you can see the color gradation change. Unfortunately the color change was too gradual to capture with such a small piece. I also unintentionally chose the color change that was the same tone as my oranges and the whole piece looked flat. I decided to forge ahead though and added borders of deepening blue to try to create the effect of a changing sky. This is what I ended up with.

Did I mention I was a sewing novice? This isn’t quite what I envisioned and I still haven’t figured out how to keep my bias cuts from waving, but every project is a learning experience. I think I”m going to use this piece to practice some free motion quilting. I’m definitely not done with this color palette either. I have a couple of new ideas of ways to explore that beautiful contrast further. Plus I captured my munchkins playing in the leaves. Not too bad for my first blog hop!

In this space I have spent several hours trying to insert html code into my post so it does what it’s supposed to and not just copying the words. I can’t figure it out. If anyone reading this has a WordPress blog and could point me in the right direction, I’d appreciate it.