Monday, October 31, 2011

The One with my First Swap!

Jenna over at Sew Happy Geek graciously hosted a Table Runner/Wall Hanging Swap. It was great of her to allow participants to choose their swap item, as I often sew on my dining room table, and so would prefer a wall hanging.

I'm actually planning on quilting and binding my partner's item in a couple days, but I was lucky enough to already receive my item! It was perfect timing too, because I had a really bad day on Friday and then Friday night I got that key in my apartment mailbox that means there is a package. That's like extra suspense in packages which is pretty cool. And I didn't expect my swap package at all!

Dawn did a FANTASTIC job. I specified in my mosaic that I love blues and greens and HSTs and designs that showcase great quilting and Dawn totally delivered and then some! Plus I had put up a picture of this weird indent in my wall near my front door that I had planned to hang my item, and she totally took that into consideration.

Plus she included a sweet handwritten note, a matching journal [that I've already used yay!] and a package of the most adorable cupcake cards :)

This was my first swap and I could not be happier, and am so excited to participate in more!!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The One with The Plan

Having a day specifically for each part of the process last week really helped me. For reasons unbeknown to me.

So that's The Plan this time around too!

Sunday [aka today]: piecing a bunch of pillows and stockings
Monday: quilting those pillows and stockings and the table runner I didn't get to last week
Tuesday: binding, etc. I actually have a photo session set up with my sister on Tuesday night, so I need to have all this stuff done so she can take the nice pictures!

So before I go off to my stack of squares and HSTs for the day, I'll leave you with one thought.

Squaring up blocks is my least favorite part of the process. Even worse than the original cutting. But I do think that the little snips looks prettier when its the edge of a charm square and is pinked :)

Saturday, October 29, 2011

"The Allison" - Journey of a quilt

I bought a FQ set of California Dreamin' by Jenean Morrison. Like, it was my 2nd fabric purchase. It was on sale at the Fat Quarter Shop, and I thought, sure why not. Back when I was just buying things without a purpose [remember, completely broke grad student]. Well, of course, that kind of shopping had to stop.

But I got that FQ set, and experienced a few things. 1, buying fabric online is tough, because it doesn't always look the same in person. 2, I have a terrible idea of seeing the size of a pattern repeat and imaging the true scale of it in person [which happened to me with Heirloom too]. 3, California Dreamin' is SUCH a delicious feeling fabric, as are most Free Spirit fabrics that I've felt.

So I divided out the pinks, greens, and oranges because I liked them much better than the blues and yellows.

This quilt has actually gone through several iterations. I originally cut and pieced rows when I was chaperoning a journalism conference for my little sister's high school. I got my own hotel room for 3 days, and had barely any responsibilities, so I had hours of free time to sew. I made the squares to be on point, and had everything laid out on the extra bed and it looked great. Unfortunately, in transport back to my home, something happened and the rows didn't look good anymore!

So I let the rows languish.

Enter, my craft fair. I had a quilt top almost already pieced, and I needed to finish it so I could try to sell it in November. So I put the rows up on my design wall and played around for days. I finally ended up with the final layout, after having to take apart several rows and move things around.

I found the perfectly-matching green flannel for the back, which I think keeps this from being too "girly-girl." I know that if I were a parent making an investment in a quilt, I would want something that would grow with the tastes of my child. The binding is that same green flannel, although the only pictures I have are of the quilt unbound.

Then I FMQ-ed this little lady. And I had a blast. And it was exhausting. My biggest FMQ project to date [although not my biggest quilt]. I also quilted a straight line in the outside white strips, which shows up very nicely on the back. I quilted the entire thing on my coffee table, because it is long enough for me to drape the quilt over, whereas my dining room table is round and more difficult.

I was very pleased with my FMQing, but I did notice that in some areas I tended to quilt wider apart than in others, and I'm not sure how I can remedy this for the future. Then again, I'm sure the general public would never notice that! :)

Which brings me to the name. My college roommate, Allie, inspired me during this quilt. She had her room decorated entirely in pastel pink and green one year, and then the next she upgraded to a slightly more saturated pink and green. It used to make me and our other roommate laugh because Allie is the complete opposite of the person you would expect to have such a girly room. I knew she would love this quilt, and she does, and so I wanted to name it after her! She's also in grad school a few hours north, but she is coming all the way down to me the day of my craft fair to show her support. I couldn't ask for a better friend!

I'm entering this over at the Blogger's Quilt Festival for my first entry ever, and am excited to go check out the other quilts and their stories. You should too!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Friday Finish-a-palooza

Ok, I don't know if what I've finished counts as a palooza [is that a fun word or what!]. Or rather, I know it doesn't.

But I'm sticking with it. Because I set several goals for myself as to what I wanted to get done on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of this week, and I'm happy to say that I actually was very successful.

So I'm going to take 5 seconds to document. Without pictures. Because each of these items will get their own picture-filled day in the sun [please feel free to avert your eyes if you think mentioning projects without pictures is a form of cruel and unusual punishment]:
-Finished my top for the SewHappyGeek Wall Hanging/Table Runner Swap, and even though it's not perfect, everyone seems to like it!
-Finished piecing a back for that same swap item, and I ended up going a completely different direction than planned, and I LOVE IT.
-Finished quilting my bookshelf wall hanging
-Finished quilting and binding my California Dreamin' quilt
-Finished an oven mitt and hotpad gift set! just the hot pad.

Which is what I'm linking up over at Amanda Jean's today! My mom would be so sad to find out that linky parties keep me accountable nowadays, as she despaired over my accountability when I was younger. But hey, whatever works!

Hello puffy hotpad. I'm going to wash it to see if that helps, not quite sure why it looks so floofy?

So I have a booth at a craft fair in exactly 2 weeks [insert panic here] and I thought I would make some coordinating oven mitts and hotpads and market them as hostess gifts or something. So I hada couple sets cut out and ready to go. But I've made 2 sets so far and they end up tiny! I cannot figure out what I'm doing wrong. I cut a pattern using my own kitchen's oven mitts as the guide, and I took into account the 1/4" seam allowance when making the pattern. So I'm extremely annoyed and now I need something else to go with the hotpads to make a couple gift bundles.  I had also got these cute little cookie cutters to tie to the bundles just to make them look a little more like they're supposed to be a gift. So clearly I still want to use those for something :) Maybe 2 hotpads and a set of coasters? Or napkins?

AND I had to order some extra Holiday Happy from Sew Deerly Loved so I threw some green baker's twine into my cart as well, which was going to tie up the gift bundles...must come up with new plan...

So go check out all the finishes and see if anyone else has had a finish-a-palooza!  

And check back here tomorrow to read about my California Dreamin' quilt that I'm entering in the Blogger's Quilt Festival! :)

TGIF! And go Gators at the biggest rivalry game of the year!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The One Where I Quilted All Day

This has been my view today! My first big-time attempt at FMQ. And I must say, its going swimmingly. My stitch length is generally uniform, although it does get a little long when I have trouble gripping the quilt. It took me about an hour to do 1/3 of the quilt. Although I was watching Mulan while I quilted, so that might have slowed me down. It's harder to gustily sing along and pay attention to quilting than you might think! :)

Having one focus for the day [quilting several projects] has actually been pretty helpful. I think because it allows me to be in a single mindset versus having to think about the mathematical/precision side of piecing and then move to the more creative aspect of quilting.

Bookshelf wall hanging - quilted
Sawtooth star hotpad - quilted
California Dreamin' quilt - in progress [I plan on finishing after dinner!]

^Favorite moment of the day: my boyfriend Stephen pulled some cash out of his pocket and told me to buy myself an iced coffee from Starbucks because he knows I love it! Quilting makes a girl thirsty :)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

WIP Week 2!

There is so much in progress happening around here, and not as much finished.


Today has been spent trying to finish up several things that need pieced, and tomorrow is an entirely free day [!] that I have already scheduled myself to quilt the heck out of some projects. My Friday also happens to be free [is this starting to sound like the calm before the storm, or what?!] and will be spent binding.

1. SuperSwoon - finish piecing front; back is all ready to go
2. SewHappyGeek Table Runner/Wall Hanging Swap - this little [ok, actually pretty big!] guy needs a backing, which will be pieced from random green pieces in my stash/scrap bin.
3. Retro Christmas table topper - um, I'm making up how to do Y-seams as I go along here, and I only have 3 left!
4. Moose pillow - I actually don't plan on finishing this by the weekend because I plan to cover up my mismatching plaid down there with an appliqued circle/square that says "Merry Christmoose!" :)

5. California Dreamin' top - I have a flannel backing that just needs one strip pieced onto it, and then this lady will be ready for quilting of an as-of-yet unknown design. There's actually now a white border on the sides of the top to make it a bit wider.
6. Jovial table runner - I think I'm going to stick with straight-line quilting for this
7. Bookshelf wall hanging [based off the mini quilt by Don't Call Me Betsy, although I didn't use her tutorial and I added the bookends]
8. Sawtooth star hot pad - love small projects that are quick to quilt!

9. Christmas tree skirt - Make ties for, and bind. The binding is even already made.
10. Oven mitts - I have 2 pairs that are quilted and ready to just have all the parts sewn together and then binding around the cuffs
11. Stocking - I have one quilted stocking body, and one finished-with-pom-poms cuff, but unfortunately they don't fit together. Easy to remedy, but I just have to actually do it. 

Ew, 11 projects in the works? I'm tired just thinking about it. But hey, I'm interested to see if the idea of just doing all of one part of the process on my projects per day will work out better than my current lack of a plan. I guess we will find out when [or if I can!] I link up on Friday over at Amanda Jean's celebration of finishes.

So anyways, go check out all the other links at Lee's! Sometimes clicking through  makes me feel better [like when people have more WIPs than me], but it can backfire too [like when people have finishes listed and I don't].

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

What I've been up to today!

1. Girl Scout meeting. We decorated stockings to donate to a local group for underprivileged kids and talked about the new USDA guidelines that have replaced the food pyramid. Hopefully my girls go home and have learned a little bit about healthy eating!

2. Information session for a possible job opportunity. It's an organization that works to inspire social change, which is an important facet of all my research in my graduate program, and something that I strive for in whatever career path I take. Unfortunately, the information session was not quite what I expected.

3. Sewing on my swap item! Got up early this morning so that I could get that machine humming before I had to be running around for the day. I decided to throw some solids in because I don't have that many dark green prints, and I needed some additional values thrown in. While not all of those teeny squares match up exactly, I'm pretty darned happy with how it's turning out. Those blocks are a little over 11 inches square.

And now that I've thrown in another load of laundry I feel like working on some more blocks! :)

Monday, October 24, 2011

The One Where I'm Exhausted From Sewing a Lot

I have had a very full day already, and I am a bit exhausted.

I got up this morning to drop a load of food off at a local food pantry that is in dire need of donations. My adorable little 8-year-old Brownie Girl Scouts collected the food; I'm so proud!

Then I had to run across town to the LQS again, because I needed some more Flurry.
For this...

Yes, I am ashamed of this terrible picture. No, there are no windows anywhere close to that wall/room. And yes, my camera battery is dead so this is my cell phone.
Everyone, this is SuperSwoon [or it will be]. SuperSwoon, this is everyone. SuperSwoon is 48" square, loves Christmas, and eats Wheaties and baby Swoons for breakfast.

Now that the introductions are out of the way, I'll tell you the reason for the picture. This is eventually going to be a tree skirt, and I have to admit I'm really excited to see how it will turn out. I still need to make the flying geese pieces, but I didn't want the foundation rectangles to get lost in the tragedy that I call a table right now, so I stuck them up where they will eventually go. And you know what, I kinda dig this set up. I think I'd still want the outside green pieces to be flying geese and have the points, but I think it looks cool like this too.

Anyways, this is Flurry and those super adorable Happy Holiday gnomes, and Kona white. And it was really easy to enlarge Swoon for this idea. I've also shrunk it to fit on a pillow, so very versatile!

So I cut and sewed all that so far on SuperSwoon, plus I pieced a backing for, and then basted, the Jovial table runner from a few posts back.

I'd like to take a nap, but for this grad student, the evening means 3 hour classes. At least by the time I get home I'll want to sew some more :)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The One with my Steam-a-Seam experiment

If you will recall, I ran out of time to bind a pillow, and had some Steam-a-Seam Lite on hand. I wondered what would happen if I machine stitched the binding down as normal, and then fused it over instead of hand-stitching.

Front of the pillow
Back of pillow, although it is shown upside-down

 All seemed well in my attempts!

 I think this method would take me a bit of practice, because I must place the Steam-a-Seam far enough down on the binding so that you can't pull it up and see the stitches, like you can in the above picture. Originally I cut lengths of the Steam-a-Seam at 1/4 of an inch thick, as that was my seam allowance for sewing the binding on. However, I think if I were to try this again I would cut them at 3/8".

This portion of the binding shows the Steam-a-Seam melted a little bit outside of the binding so that it can be seen, but that will wash away, and the binding can't be pulled up at all here.

And here's the finished product! The binding is holding perfectly fine. It would be interesting to know if it will hold up better over time than hand-stitching the binding down.

Quilting can be academic! Science and the arts can indeed mingle! More experiments in the future! :)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

No sewing today

Instead, I will be outside enjoying the glorious 75 degree weather... Oktoberfest! The German-American Society of Central Florida puts on a fantastic Oktoberfest, and I'm excited to be spending the day drinking some beer and eating sauerbraten and schnitzel and strudel. My Oma married an American soldier and came over here to the U.S. in the late 1950's, so I've grown up with this food and am looking forward to not having to make it myself this time :)

I'll have a bunch of stuff to share tomorrow, including the results of my Steam-a-Seam binding experiment.

Happy Saturday to all!

Friday, October 21, 2011

I promise I really did finish something!

I had to immediately use the beautiful Jovial FQ that I got yesterday. It feels so fantastic, and pictures online do not do this beautiful print enough justice.  I knew that I wanted it to be a table runner, and for it to be the focal point in the center [my thought process was for it to have a vase of ornaments or pine cones or something on the middle part of the runner]. But it does need to be longer, so I was trying out ideas for the ends. Clearly, this picture below does not work. I think I've decided on just simple log cabins on the end with the center print being more Jovial. That means those pinwheels are destined for something else!

I've started work on my Grinch quilt for the craft fair. I got a panel and some coordinating fabrics and I'm thinking some very wonkily [wonkily - hahaha] placed blocks on a white background. I have some flannel in that pea green that might end up being the majority of the backing. Seriously, look at that cute fabric!

And now, my experiment: That's my hand-quilted autumn pillow [although the quilting lines run horizontal, not vertical like in the photo]. So I wasn't paying attention when I was sewing the other night, and sewed the binding onto the back of the pillow. Obviously, this is a problem, but I just don't have the heart or the time to rip out those tiny stitches. Enter, my idea. I'm seeing what will happen if I use that Steam-a-Seam to fuse down the binding to the front of the pillow. That strip of binding is already done, and so far so good. And um, it took me like 3 minutes to do. I will finish the pillow, wash it, and report back!

I obviously wouldn't use that technique for everything, but in a pinch for things like pillows or hot pads, or especially decorative items...well, we will see what happens.

And finally, my finished scrappy pillow! I'm linked up over at Amanda Jean's [crazy mom quilts] Finish it up Friday. Yay for finishes!
My apologies for the lighting and cell phone picture, but I just didn't have time for anything else. The pillow on the left is from my couch that I made a few weeks ago so my boyfriend could have a pillow all his own. Then I wanted to make another pillow like it for the craft show, so we have the one on the right. I actually didn't really like it as I was quilting it. But I have to say, that navy blue binding really sold me on it, and now I hope it makes some little boy or girl [or big boy or girl!] happy.
Stats: 16" pillow; fabrics include Children at Play, Countdown to Christmas, Modern Meadow, Hullaballoo, 1001 Peeps, Tailor Made, Going Coastal; backing is Kona Marine and binding is Kona Navy; envelope closure

Happy Friday! :)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

On Cloud 9!

I just got home from an impulsive trip to a fabric store in my area that I knew about but had never been to. In the general Orlando area, there are 3 LQS. I've been to one, and I think I aged myself about 30 years just walking in the door. Mostly Civil War repro prints and batiks. I was so discouraged after that trip that I didn't want to make the trip a couple towns over to this other store.

Welp, today I did it after I realized I could run a couple errands on the way.

And it was beeaaauuuttiiiiful. I'd say it was still 60% traditional fabrics, and 40% modern, but hey that's better than nothing! They also do sewing machine repair, of any kind of machine, including featherweights, which is pretty cool. So go Sewing Studio! Will definitely be back.

Sadly, it was really expensive. I'm used to shopping online and using coupons and buying fabrics on sale. I am a grad student, so this is already a kind of expensive hobby without adding in designer fabrics.

So um, I had told myself I wouldn't buy any more fabric until after my show in November, and work exclusively from what I already had [with the exception of anticipating running out of Kona white]. I broke that self-imposed rule today haha. I don't even care!

The store was having a $1.99 sale on any regularly priced FQ, so I browsed to my heart's content. Most of the new collections [like Sandi Henderson's Secret Garden] weren't available in FQ's yet, so that was sad for me, but I got 8 FQ's for $17 and some change! Yay!

Top to bottom: Robert Kaufman Dr. Seuss, Patricia Bravo Oval Elements, Basic Grey Jovial, Tula Pink Prince Charming, Basic Grey Jovial, Kate Spain Flurry, Kate Spain Flurry, Doodlebug Trick or Treat

And then to celebrate my good fortune I picked up a latte from Starbucks. Now I'm off to sew while my apartment is still empty :)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

My first WIP Wednesday...

...and I already have a long list to link up over to Lee at Freshly Pieced!

The concept of this link-up is interesting in my case because I am preparing for a craft fair, and therefore constantly have a million things I'm trying to get done. I have 3 weeks left until the fair, and I've reached the point where I need to be sewing for a couple hours every day.

So here are [a few of] my WIPs:

  • Children at Play scrappy pillow - doesn't include the full range, but some of my favorite prints, and a slew of other coordinating fabric. It's quilted and just needs to be put together with the backing

  • Christmas stocking - this just needs a cuff, but that cuff pictured is actually too big due to the stocking body being smaller than expected once I finished the French seams

  • Christmas tree skirt - I actually have 2 of these in the works, although they're different designs. The other one just needs a binding, but this skirt needs a lot of lovin' before it will be done

  • Sew Happy Geek Table Runner/Wall Hanging Swap - I showed you my idea previously, and I have started sewing, but those 1" finished squares take me a bit longer than I thought they would. Luckily, I'm still ahead of the game, as some other people are still finalizing a design

  • Little girl quilt - This is made from the pink, orange, and green fabrics from a California Dreamin' FQ set. I've changed my mind several times on the layout of the strips, but I've finally started sewing the top together!

  • Autumn pillow - I finished hand-quilting the top, and I made an envelope back with some more hand-stitching, and this is just awaiting that binding sitting right there :)

Those are my main projects right now, although I do have more pillows, stockings, and table runners in the works. All 6 of those projects have to be finished by next week, because I have lots more to do!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The one with coffee and hand-stitching

There has been so much crafty spirit within me today. In my non-sewing life [I know, if only I could sew all the time, but alas, no] I'm the Girl Scout leader to a group of adorable 2nd and 3rd graders. We're decorating Christmas stockings at our next meeting to donate to a local charity that fills them and donates them to kids who don't have stockings. I feel very strongly about lighting a volunteer spirit within these girls at a young age, so I want to make this super fun so they want to keep helping others. Therefore, I went a little crazy at the craft store, and have lots of glitter paint, pom poms, and stickers.

If I was Superwoman, I would have stitched up the stockings myself, but as of yet I haven't figured out how to divide myself into 2 in order to get all this done, so I got felt stockings. Although, it is my mission to teach these girls to sew this school year!

So I came home, and was feeling so productive and creative. I turned on some episodes of FRIENDS [one of my hands-down, all-time favorite shows ever], put my latte within arm's reach, and grabbed my hand sewing project. The great thing about this show is that I know it so well that I can pay attention to my stitching and still know what's going on in the show.

This is destined to become a pillow, and has fabrics from the Sandy Gervais Grand Finale line, and the yellow crosshatch from Farm Fresh [which is a fantastic almost-solid to have in your stash!]. The orange is unknown from a past project. Also, my sister got the large hoop for me from an estate sale for 50 cents! Yay for people indulging my quilty habit :)

Orlando, and all of Florida actually, is in for some severe weather tonight, so I'm going to be sewing all night long, and I couldn't be happier with this turn of events!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

My first swap

I entered a swap hosted by Jenna at Sew Happy Geek, and we got to choose a table runner or a wall hanging. I'll have to take a picture of my dining room table sometime, but it's where I sew/cut/generally just make a mess. 

Needless to say, I chose a wall hanging.

Anyways, this is my first swap, and I'm a little nervous. I obviously cannot reveal my partner yet, but I got so excited about my first idea for her, and then I got worried that it was too outside of the box for something that someone would want to hang on their wall every day.

That's a print from Kate Spain's new Terrain line, and it might actually be my favorite print. I thought that was a built-in quilt pattern right there, so I figured out some numbers and spent a few minutes coloring this afternoon to get this...

Made with some of these fabrics...

I'm actually really excited, and if it looks good when translated to fabric then I think I'll make a bigger version in a quilt for myself!

I'll keep you updated with the progress and how the swap goes over! :)

Friday, October 14, 2011

At what point do you throw in the towel...

...and let something not be perfect?

See that bottom right-hand corner? The most frustrating part? Look at the top right matches perfectly! I'm not quite sure what happened, but this isn't a 100% cotton [it feels like it could have some sort of linen in it], and you can see the subtle warping of the fabric throughout, so I guess that equals completely off by the time I got to that corner.

I worked so hard to make the 2 vertical sides match up. Each of those sides is 2 pieces because I only had 1/4 a yard of this fabric, and therefore it wasn't long enough for me to have a single-cut piece. Sigh.

I'm going to instead focus on those adorable reindeer who are just head over heels in love with each other!