Thursday, June 28, 2012

100 followers & 1 Placemat

I'm thrilled to have hit the century mark for followers! I'm digging around in my fabric to find a good giveaway to celebrate, so check back in the next couple days to see what I can bear to part with find. Thanks so much to followers old and new!

Here's what I've been playing with lately: Placemats.
Why? First, they're quick and can be finished quickly My UFO list is piling up to obscene heights. Second, it lets me practice some small-scale machine quilting, something I badly need to do. (see evidence below)

It all started when I saw this pillow on the clearance rack at Target.

It caught my eye, and when it was still there on my third trip during a two-week period, I took it as a sign and snapped a quick photo. Small segue: Somehow I made it to Target three times in two weeks WITHOUT any kids. That's almost unheard of. And heavenly.

Using the design as inspiration, I pulled all kinds of large florals from my stash, went solid fabric shopping again, and found a shape I liked in my clip art book.

I mocked up a small and large design versions in Illustrator.

Then I moved to fabric. Here's what I made first:
 I really thought I'd like the ultra plain placemat--besides topstitching around the edge, the only stitching is a little raw edge applique around the motifs. But it actually seemed kind of boring.

So I added a little free motion quilting, just following the "grid" of the shapes.

At this point I knew that this particular placemat was not going to be a finished product, because I'd prefer to quilt just the top and then add the backing, pillowcase-style, so I decided to play a bit, experimenting with different stitches and seeing if I liked anything.

Notice that I'm showing you the full shot first, where it's hard to see detail. Go ahead and ooh and ahh now, because the close-ups below won't spare you the gory details.

But first, a few things about free motion machine quilting:
1. I picked the absolute worst fabric and pattern to start practicing on--wide open space with no boundaries to help me contain the quilting, and a solid color that hides nothing(!) in terms of mistakes.
2. When I was in high school, I used to umpire middle school girls' softball games. Let's just say that split-second decision making is not a skill of mine. When I called balls and strikes, about 50% of the time I regretted the call I had just made. Machine quilting is not so different. I'd made a decision (turn here!) and then two stitches after turning, decide I should have gone the other way.
3. For me, machine quilting is grind your teeth, tense your shoulders stressful. I think I need to work on changing this mindset almost as much as I do the quilting stitches.
4. All that aside, I fell in love with this book:
I want to BE Angela when I grow up. I LOVE her quilting, and really enjoyed trying out many of her stitches. If you haven't seen this book yet, definitely check it out.

Ignore my fluctuating stitch length, my herky-jerky curves, and other messiness, and take a peek at these close-ups. Because while I know I have a lot to learn, I really enjoyed the process the finished results and I can't wait to practice some more.

Swirls and a meander

Upper left: Circles (I had the most trouble with this one); back and forth (top center), paisley attempts (lower left) and just a wavy grid (lower right)

Modern clamshell (one of my favorites!) and a random grid

Here's my question--how should I quilt these placemats? One of the designs you see here? Straight or wavy-straight lines before I add the appliques? I'd love to hear what you think because I can't decide!

p.s. Linking up to "Can I get a whoop whoop?" over at Confessions of a Fabric Addict!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Fabric Friday

Happy Friday and happy weekend!
Today's fabric is another on my wish list and not yet in my stash: Grand Hotel by Jenean Morrisson for Free Spirit Fabric.

I love how this collection has a retro feel to it too. I also love Jenean's description of the line, which you can read here. There's a blue and pink colorway as well, and while I'm usually a blue girl, I was drawn to the orange and teal and maroon combo here. I would love to use this with some white solid, or maybe even a teal or orange solid. 
What is your favorite new fabric line right now? 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Scrappy Mosaic Pillow

When I first started this blog, I made a list of all the ideas I had of projects to sew and showcase. One of the first things I put on that list was the Mod Mosaic Floor Pillow tutorial by Elizabeth Hartman. I'm a huge fan of her blog and her work.

When I saw this post by Danny at Mommy for Reals, asking for 20" square pillowcases for an outreach program for teens, in need, I knew I had my chance.

Last night, I took these scraps, plus white solid:

And made my own version of the Mod Mosaic pillow:
I had so much fun sewing this; I definitely will make one again.

Here are some close-ups:

The original tutorial calls for quilting the pillow top before adding the backing, but I skipped that step because I didn't have time. Still cute, though, and a great way to use up leftovers!

Check out Elizabeth's tutorial, and if you have time, consider making a pillowcase (any pillowcase, not just that one) for Danny's endeavor.

Linking up with Quilt Story and Confessions of a Fabric Addict "Can I get a whoop whoop!" to show off my fun new pillow!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

We have a winner!

Thanks so much for everyone who commented for a chance at the Celebrating 50 Followers giveaway! The giveaway has now ended. Using a random number generator, I came up with #5.

 And then, counting down the comments, and counting double for the bloggers who posted about the giveaway on their sites, I came up with Kerri S of A Simple Princess as the winner. Congrats, Kerri! I am sending you an email.

Now since I'm up to 90 followers, I'm off to dig around for another giveaway when we reach 100!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Fabric Friday

Wow...the response to my 50th follower giveaway has been phenomenal! Thank you! (And it's still open until Sunday...) Welcome to all the new followers, and hello to those of you I've "met" before! I'll be sure to pick another giveaway to celebrate 100 followers--just never expected I'd need it so soon! :)

It's Fabric Friday!
Gosh, alliteration is such a fun and easy way to come up with blog post topics!
The fabric I'm sharing today are Riley Blake's Chevrons.

Yep, I'm jumping on the chevron bandwagon. I love the fabric (especially those two-color tonals!), and I also love the idea as a quilt pattern (see a fantastic chevron quilt by Jennifer at Knotted Thread).

I'm showing off digital swatches today because I don't have any chevron fabric yet. (Who am I kidding? At the moment my stash is so overflowing that I shouldn't be buying fabric for another year or two, though we all know I will. Why yes, honey, they renamed the grocery store--that's why "The Quilt Shop shows up on our credit card bill every week. Why no, the refrigerator is pretty empty...why do you ask?)

Enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Big 5-0! and Giveaway

Edited to add:

Woo hoo! I hit the big 5-0! (No, not in age...I've got a few years yet!)
Thanks to old friends and new, virtual and real-life, my blog now has 50 followers. I really appreciate it; thank you so much!
In celebration, I'm giving away this lovely charm pack. That's right, forty-two 5" squares of Vintage Modern deliciousness, by bonnie & camille for Moda.

It can be yours. You can enter in one (or more) of the following ways:

1. If you're already a follower, leave a comment on this post telling me how many hours per week you sew.
2. If you're not yet a follower, please become one, and then leave a comment on this post telling me how many hours per week you sew.
3. BONUS: If you link to this giveaway from your blog (and let me know in the comment section), you'll receive an extra entry. 
  **Please make sure I have a way to contact you if you're the winner.

This giveaway will be open until 5 pm EST on Sunday, June 17. THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED.
Sunday evening I'll use a random number generator to select a winner from all of the entries.

Good luck! 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Disappearing Ninepatch, Complete with Sous Chef

Have you ever quilted with a sous chef? Or maybe it should be a sous quilter. Either way, it sounds so much better than plain old "assistant."
When my mom visited recently, she served as my sous chef. She pinned fabrics, pressed seams, and generally did anything that needed to be done so that I could just sit at the machine and piece block after block. Ahhh...
Sewing like this spoils me. It goes so quickly! Since Mom isn't always around (we live four hours apart), I'll just keep wishing for a clone. Perhaps one that could cook and clean and wipe baby bottoms while I sit in my studio, stitching project after project.

But I digress. With Mom's help, I made disappearing ninepatch blocks, following this tutorial from The Cottage Mama.

The blocks went from these squares:

To these ninepatch blocks in the works, with solid white centers:

To these ninepatches:

Then I cut each ninepatch in half twice:

And added white sashing to complete the quilt center.
Now, a question: Do you think it needs a border? If so, what? Please help me decide how to finish this!

(Also, I'm really struggling with photographing this. What you see here is attempt #3. Outside, inside, no luck. The aqua green color is actually a very pretty blue-ish teal color. )

Linking my pieced top up with Fabric Tuesday at Quilt Story.

p.s. Did you see?! I'm only one follower away from 50! If you're just visiting, consider becoming lucky #50 (or, if someone beat you to it, you could be 51, 52...). Once I hit 50, I'll be hosting a giveaway of a Moda charm pack for all my followers, so please join in!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Photos of Shame and Re-Inspired!

I got myself into a bit of a sewing funk at the end of last week. I had an idea for a project, and when i started sewing, it just wasn't working right. Then, when it finally seemed to come together, I made a silly math mistake and screwed up a row of half-square triangles. When did I realize that I screwed up, you ask? Of course after they were stitched into a row and ready to join the two halves of my project. Argh.

Add on top of that the fact that I couldn't walk through my studio without stepping on something, much less see the carpet, and I was not feeling the sewing love. And lest you think I'm exaggerating about the studio mess, I'm (bravely) posting a photo!
Every time I start something, I pull fabric out. Somehow, I don't put it away when I'm done. Maybe that's because most projects are works in progress? Or I'm just too eager to get started on the next thing? Or I'm lazy. You pick.

(And if you're looking closely, that IS a step ladder as the chair at my sewing table. I have a chair, but it was at my desk, and it was easier to use this step stool (which I keep in the room for taking photos from above) than try to lug the chair through the mess. Yes, it's THAT bad in my room.)

And then here are my boxes of scraps, sorted by color.
I'm on week 9 of a 16-week Color Challenge block series at 15 Minutes Play, and each week I've tossed the fabrics I've used back in the direction of my scrap bins. Yikes!

So between my project frustration and the disaster that was my studio, I was not a happy camper. The solution? Take advantage of a second wind and spent from 10:30 pm until 1 am on Thursday straightening up. I made huge progress, though not quite enough to take an "after" photo. I put fabric back, sorted out stuff I'm not going to use anymore to donated to my guild, and organized future projects into neat piles.

And then, the best part. As I was admiring my future projects at the end of the night, I quickly (I really needed to go to bed!) laid out some blocks I'd made about a month ago and hit the jackpot--I finally figured out the layout! This seems small, but it knocked me out of the little funk I was in and really made my day (morning?) at 1 am. I had a busy weekend and didn't get to start piecing, but here's a peek at what I'm planning. It's not much to look at, but it was enough to get me excited again!

I'll talk more about this when I have the top finished, but these blocks are made using the disappearing nine-patch technique using a tutorial I found at the The Cottage Mama. I knew they needed breathing room rather than just being rotated and sewn together, and I love how the white sashing and center square create an entirely new block design!
Once I get out from under a pile of laundry and work from my day job, I'm ready to start sewing again. Can't wait!

p.s. Linking my newly found re-inspiration over to Confessions of a Fabric Addict's Can I get a whoop whoop?

Friday, June 8, 2012

Fabric Friday

I fell in love with a booth at Quilt Market, and then I fell in love with the fabric line it featured. I tend to be pretty choosy about kids' prints, and about themed prints. Sarah Jane's Out to Sea collection for Michael Miller Fabrics captivated me. It's such a perfect mix of whimsy and fun without being too cutesy.
But first, Sarah Jane's booth.  It has ship bunk beds, with lights. And a porthole. And a stuffed mermaid doll with removable fin. So adorable! Go to her website here to read the story of how her booth came together--it's worth clicking over to read, I promise.
(Photo from Sarah Jane)
Then the fabric:
Pirates with personality (girl and boy pirates)!
Whales with unicorn horns!
(Photo from Sarah Jane)

(Photo from Sarah Jane)

(Photo from Sarah Jane)

Now I just need to find an excuse to buy and use this fabric...

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Color Challenge: Tow Mater Red

(as my 3-year-old would say!)*

Here's this week's block for the Color Challenge over at 15 Minutes Play.

I feel like every time I pull fabrics for one of these blocks, I come up with a new color combination that I can't wait to try in a quilt. What great inspiration!

My tomato red fabric (the outlined flower print) looks more pink-ish in the photo, despite my amateur photoshop efforts, but in real life it's a nice orangey-red. When I held it up the green swirl batik, I was in love. I tried adding yellow or orange, but didn't like either of those. As I was heading toward my brown bin, I stumbled across the plum-y purple, which provided a great dark accent. Yum!

Fabric choices:

Made fabric:

And the block:

I have really enjoyed working with all the warm colors in this challenge. I'm usually a blue-green girl, so this half of the color wheel is new to me. 
Not surprised at how nicely the greens play with the red. I was a little surprised that I didn't like the oranges or yellows, and that a darker red and the purple both worked so well. As I said above, can't wait to try this combo in a quilt. If only I had more of these fabrics...

And here are all nine blocks together. I kind of like them on point!:

*The Tow Mater reference is to a character in the movie Cars, for anyone without ready access to a young child. (Though I recommend the movie for all ages--it's great!)

To see last week's rust block, click here.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Sew Small Show and Tell

Welcome to any new visitors--thanks for stopping by! And returning friends, thanks so much for coming back!

I was lucky enough to spend some time sewing with my mom last week. It's great for two reasons: First, the socializing aspect, and second, four hands means twice as much gets done! She helped me cross a bunch of items off my never-ending to-do list, several of which were gifts for some newly hatched babies and my two favorite (and only) nieces.

Baby Cute
 I really prefer embellishing pre-made ones rather than making my own. It saves me time--and that's time that I can put into embellishing more of them! I was thrilled to find plain colored bibs and burp cloths--so much more interesting than white.
These are for a sweet little girl who is a younger sister. I'm thinking she probably doesn't need any clothes, so I chose these gifts instead. You can never have too many bibs and burp cloths!

It's not delivery, it's...
Next up, a project that I'd heard about from friends, this time for my own son. Felt pizza for his play kitchen. Mom sewed the crust and I cut up the toppings. We made a whole pizza and then a pizza cut into quarters for future math and fraction practice. At the moment I love this pizza-making activity more than he does, but I'm confident that will change. Oh, and we stopped into our local pizza shop and asked if we could buy a box. They gave us one for free. Perfect for storage and delivery!

All Dressed Up
I saw sundress fabric in my local quilt shop a month or so ago. After a call to my sister-in-law to check sizes, I bought some. I have sewed clothes once or twice--a hoodie for a Cabbage Patch Kid when I was a kid, and a fairy costume for my niece. I admire handmade clothes, but it's not my forte. However, these dresses I could handle. Can't wait to see them on my nieces! (Sorry, you just get a hanger picture for now; not nearly as cute.)

Quilt-as-you-go Tote Bag
You'll see this one again soon, as I'm working on a tutorial for the assembly process. I loved the stark contrast of the indigo and cream in these fabrics--the Katagami collection from Red Rooster Fabrics--and after searching two different shops, finally found the "right" orange to pop. I've already taken this bag on a trip with me--it is a perfect size for holding everything I need without being so large that it knocks down strangers walking next to me. Stay tuned for the tutorial so you can make your own!

Sewing Donation
I'm keeping my eyes open for some "sewing for others" opportunities...I sure don't need to keep everything I make! I stumbled across a chance to make easy zippered bags for foster kids attending the Royal Kids Foster Camp on the Mommy for Reals blog. Five zippered pouches with coordinating linings, done and on their way! Each took about 10 minutes to make. Love easy ways likes this to help others.

Linking this post up with Lily's Quilts Fresh Sewing Day and Small Blog Meet, as well as Fabric Tuesday at Quilt Story.