Sunday, December 30, 2012

So what did I do in 2012?

2012 was a really tough year personally and financially for me. Luckily, quilting is always happy :) Last year I recapped my first 6 months of quilting. And I set some goals for 2012. Let's see how I did, shall we?

Sewing and life goals for 2012:
  • Find a job that I love! Or just a job that pays me :) I have a job, and it's exhausting and I work more than 40 hours most weeks, but I love that the concept of the nonprofit that I work for is a great and fulfilling goal to work towards!
  • Be ok with possibly having to move away from family and friends for that job Luckily for me, I didn't have to move, yay!
  • Make a king-size quilt for my bed Complete fail on this. I always had to push this aside all year for other things. 2013!
  • Get better at FMQ other than stippling Check! I really expanded my FMQing skills this year, and can now pebble and swirl very nicely, as well as do some other designs, but not as well
  • Make some clothing Lots of clothes this year!
  • Bake more. Not just desserts. Because I do that plenty. Breads and healthier stuff. This came and went throughout the year, depending on how busy I was at the moment. And while I did bake breads, I didn't really bake too many "healthy" items.
  • Have a smoothie in the morning at least every other day [almost to this frequency!] And add things like spinach to them. Giant fail in the second half of the year. I haven't made myself a smoothie in months.
  • I'd love to learn to knit, but have tried many many times, and it hasn't clicked yet Didn't even try, but I just read a post on a knitting website with videos that I might check out.
  • Purchase all new living room furniture I realized by the summer that I wasn't going to be able to accomplish this in 2012, so I refinished my coffee and end tables by hand. It was tough, but they look new!
  • Join a sewing bee [this is amusing, because almost every blogger that I've read has said they want to decrease the number of bees and swaps they're in. Makes room for me I guess!] Check! I did this!
  • Would absolutely love to be able to attend the Sewing Summit. And hopefully by October I'll get over fears of going somewhere to meet people that I've never met in person :) No job meant no cross-country trip for me this year.
  • Project 365. I've become a lot more comfortable with just pulling out my phone and taking a picture, and the camera isn't half bad, so I'm hoping that a combo of phone and real camera photos will document 2012! By about halfway through the year I changed up my photo-taking, and no longer took a photo a day, but probably averaged every other day for the rest of the year. I decided that I didn't need to document every time something mundane happened, just for the sake of taking a picture that day. But I'm still counting this as accomplished.
So I got 6 out of 12. Not terrible...

Here's a recap of some of the things I made this year:

6 quilts [there's actually one more, but I can't share it quite yet]

Lots of smaller projects!

What I think of as my biggest growth in 2012 - sewing clothes!

I have some sewing goals for 2013 too:
  • Make that darned king-size quilt for myself!
  • Produce some PDF patterns
  • Sew with knits
  • Bind an entire quilt by hand
  • Learn to balance my work life and time for sewing
  • Take time to enjoy the process instead of just working to finish the project
  • Continue submitting projects to magazines and grow my blog/sewing presence
I hope that you're looking forward to the new year as much as I am!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Sewing Machine Help!

Happy post-Christmas, everyone!

I have another handmade Christmas present to share in the next few days, but for today I'm sick and miserable at work...I'm also the only one in the office, which means I'm researching new sewing machines!

My parents offered to buy me a new machine for my birthday, yay! I was hoping you'd tell me if you like your machine or not :)

I have a budget of no more than $1000, and these are some things that are important to me:

-Large harp space
-Ideally it would sew more quietly than my last machine
-Ability to add an extension table
-Still  needs to be able to do things like buttonholes and zig-zag stitches for clothing

Thanks everyone!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Handmade Christmas, part 1

So what was I making the other day out of that Echino?

A tablet cover! My sister had a tablet on her Christmas list, but found one at a bargain on Black Friday. So she changed her request to accessories for her new tablet.

Now, there are plenty of tutorials for covers for Kindles and Nooks and even iPads. But a Samsung Galaxy S Note? None. So I pulled up the Kindle cover tutorial over at Whipstitch, and I pulled out my math skillz. The one downfall of this is that Deborah doesn't list the Kindle's measurements that she starts with to create her cover. So I was really just winging it to know what kind of ease she was working with in her pattern. Here's to hoping it all worked out okay.

- I specifically wanted a cover that my sister could be using her tablet while still protecting it, and not just a sleeve for travel, so this tutorial was perfect
-It didn't require any crazy interfacing or materials that I didn't have on hand
-It's pretty customizable, and I'm not talking about different tablets, I'm talking about extra pockets, etc
-The pocket behind the corner tabs allows for extra security when the tablet isn't in use [the cardboard in the above photo is my makeshift tablet to test my math]

-The pattern as it was would come out to be a little "floofy" to be a good cover, in my opinion
-At one point in the construction you would have been sewing the inside piece, the corner pieces, the elastic, the batting, and the outer piece together. That's a lot to hope doesn't wiggle around, even with careful pinning.

Things I changed:
-I quilted the batting to the outer piece of fabric. I interfaced the Echino as well, but I wanted it to be more stiff, and knew that quilting would help. It was super helpful when sewing all the layers together that the batting wasn't going to shift. Plus, hello, cute!
-I added a pocket on the left-hand size by simply cutting some Washi to the length of the entire piece, folding the top edge over twice and top-stitching. I added a pearl snap for extra security in case she wants to put headphones in it or something.
-I made a sleeve for some template plastic, and slid it in the pocket in the middle to give the whole thing extra support. Kind of like what you do for the bottom of bags. I actually tried to sew the plastic into the back of the middle piece where the corners are, but it just wasn't working to be able to turn the entire thing right-side out at the end, so I gave up and re-improvised.

Things I would change if I did this again:
-The corners were a bitch. There's just no other way to say that. As you can see in the above photo, it's still a little wrinkly...I might try to redo it again. There's just so much going on in those right-hand corners. So I decided I would extend the cover by a strip about an inch wide on that side, allowing the corners to be sewn into that strip, and then forming a new corner to be turned right-side out.
-Which leads into my next future change...I'm not sure I'm loving the elastic on the outside. I really wanted a magnetic snap, or even the pearl snap like I put on the pocket. Or a zipper if I'm feeling wild. But because the corner tabs are right at the edge of the cover, it doesn't allow for any different closure options.
-I'd add some super stiff interfacing at some point during construction so that it's more comparable to a cover you'd find in stores.

Hopefully my sister likes it!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Santa's Little Helper

Phew, with Christmas only a few days away I'm looking forward to the weekend in order to finish up a few presents. I didn't make too many presents this holiday season, due to my lack of personal sewing time, but I'm pretty excited for the few that I did make!

Any guesses for what that's going to be? :)

Friday, December 14, 2012

Finish it Up Friday - A Collaborative Quilt

  • Blocks were sent from all over the world [all extra blocks were forwarded on to Jenn to hopefully make another quilt!]
  • Approximately 58x67"
  •  Scared the beejeebus out of me when I pulled it out of the wash and the traditional fabrics had bled onto the white within their individual blocks! Washed a few more times and hopefully it's not too noticeable. That's the first time that's happened to me :(

  •  Snuggly blue polka dot flannel backing
  • Someone made and mailed me binding and I'm not going to lie, it was HEAVEN to have it made already. So I'm accepting applications for a binding-maker ;)

  •  Used up every last creative juice I had for the end of the month of November, since I overextended myself last month, and was a grumpy mess by the end of it. I was excited to make the quilt, but was having the darndest time coming up with a solution for mixing the modern and traditional fabrics and combining the blocks that were oriented in different directions.
  • Made a coral star out of Silent Cinema for one of the warm color stars [top left]

  •  Quilted using straight-lines around the star blocks and then squares quilted in the negative space. I wanted to just straight line quilt in the sashing, but my sashing didn't line up because I had to fudge a little on sewing some blocks together to make them all the same size. So the squares were my quilting solution. And in the end, I like it.
  • Quilted using my mom's old machine, which was bizarre, and the reason I couldn't FMQ it. Also, her machine is quieter than mine, which was glorious.

  •  Made up an extra top and backing out of an old sheet set and some patriotic blocks that were sent. I dig it.
  •  Sent Jennifer a 45" square Children at Play quilt that was the first quilt I ever finished, so hopefully she can find a kid who needs a little bit of whimsy

  • Speaking of Jennifer, she needs the biggest thank-you in the world for organizing all of this. Such a big heart!
  • Thanks also go out to all those who contributed blocks, sent me batting, pre-made binding, and a quilt label
  • It makes me feel really good to be part of this community :)
  • Someone please finish my Christmas shopping for me. Please.
 *Linked with Finish it Up Friday! :)

Monday, December 10, 2012

Burning the midnight oil

Because I know we're all short on time this month...

This quilt top is now a completed quilt for the Hurricane Sandy efforts, with its own post coming soon.

This very simple and patriotic quilt top will hopefully get some simple quilting tomorrow after work so that I can send it off to Jennifer just needing some binding attached.

These came in the mail today and are the first pieces of Echino and Nani Iro that I've owned. The Echino will be made into some Christmas items, but the double gauze is all for a shirt for me, and I couldn't be more excited about it! 

I hope everyone's holiday sewing is going well :)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Replacements

Major surgery on the good news yet. Keanu Reeves on the right...a little bit older, but still a power player. If you didn't take note of the title of this post then you're probably wondering why that sewing machine is named Keanu Reeves?

[Had to borrow my mom's machine to finish my Hurricane Sandy quilt!]

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Gnoma overload

Because I totally realize that I've shown far too many of the same project with the Winterkist gnomas I'm here instead to show...

...a new project with the Winterkist gnoma! You had to see that coming, right?

My sewing machine broke as I was finishing the last advent calendar order, and kind of pulled the calendar up into the machine. I was absolutely distraught at this point, but I contacted the customer as soon as it happened and explained that I'd no longer be able to guarantee a December 1st delivery, so I'd refund her money.

She was incredibly nice about it and said that her family had planned to use the calendar as a second advent calendar with which to do good deeds throughout the holiday season. Like, sing carols at a nursing home, etc. What a great idea, right?! So they didn't really need my version, but her kids had really fallen in love with the gnoma [and who wouldn't, he's so cute].

I emailed her back and offered to make up a different idea: a stuffed Santa gnoma that would have a single pocket that could be filled with a little note indicating the daily good deed. Since he would be more like a stuffed animal, he would be portable and could take turns "living" with each kid in turn.

While the pocket is a little crooked, it's not as bad as it appears to be in the picture...gnoma doesn't stand up straight!

So since my machine is out of order at the moment, this little guy was entirely hand-sewn. The pocket edges are folded down and secured with fusible bonding. The front pocket is made out of a second large gnoma and placed so that it's almost perfectly aligned. The back pocket was something I added in the midst of making it, in case they want larger items like song lyrics or stories to be able to be tucked into this gnoma. He was stuffed with fluffy innards and stitched closed.

He measures almost 15" tall and will hopefully be well-loved!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Life and Magazines

Well hello all!

I had a frantic past week as I spent some time furiously embroidering for a mailing deadline [ugh I want to show it off sooo bad because I'm just pleased as punch] and then I finished up the last of the advent calendars from my Etsy shop.

I ran out of the Riley Blake herringbone print that I was using for binding, so I dug into my stash for some red and white striped fabric. I love it!

Kitty is not the reason that it broke, but he is pretty damn cute.

My sewing machine broke as I was finishing up the very last calendar [what the hell, sewing juju]. At least, I haven't been able to fix it just yet...needle is locked, I can't crank it, nothing. But I actually am in Chicago for work right now [umm...25 degrees?! I don't even own a coat], so hopefully I can take a more thorough look when I get back. I did ask for a new machine for Christmas...

So because I'm typing this up from a hotel lobby I thought I'd talk about my recent project in Stitch magazine, and how it came to be. I know that I read a few posts here and there about magazine submissions when I first started sewing, and I still felt a little in the dark. So maybe this will be helpful to some.

I submitted my stockings in early June. I also submitted another project that didn't get accepted. The stockings were already made, so that was nice. They were accepted at the end of June and I had to mail the stockings and send my instructions and templates in by 4th of July. I thought I was sitting pretty since they were already made, but the editor requested that I edit the snowflakes a bit because some of the lines in the snowflake looked like crosses, so I had to angle the lines a bit. So I sewed up a new set and sent them in. You don't receive your item[s] back until a few weeks before the magazine is available, so I got everything about 2 weeks ago. You also don't receive payment until the magazine hits newsstands, although I was pleased to know that you still get paid a percentage of the offered rate even if they don't end up using your project in the end. It would be interesting to me to figure out how the magazine determines the amount they offer to pay for the project, so if anyone has any insight I'd love to hear it.

So now for my two cents...I have another project that will show up in a magazine next year. This was just a sketch and description that I submitted and it was accepted. However, in both cases I didn't get much time between when I received word that the magazine wanted my projects and when everything had to be done and mailed in. I think that it would be more worth your time to create as normal, and then submit finished projects to magazines, so you don't have to kill yourself to finish something quickly. Of course, working full-time was certainly a factor in my ability to set everything aside to work on my project. And there's no guarantee that submitting a completed item will save you from having to remake it, as in the case with the stockings. But I did feel that what I was paid would have been more worthwhile if I had created on my own time.

Of course, I don't follow my own advice, as I've just submitted only sketches again to a magazine, but maybe you all are wiser than me.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Better late than never - Black Friday sale!

Untitled by Sew Festive
Untitled, a photo by Sew Festive on Flickr.

Use the code Friday20 to receive 20% off your order in the shop through 11/26 (this offer excludes custom items). Enjoy the rest of your holiday weekend! :)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Just keep swimming

I admit, these pictures are dull, as I'm working on the exact same thing, just replicated a bunch of times.

I'm getting pretty good at these swirls!

I actually think I like the pink and orange one, which is totally not my style.

This is why the kitty is normally not allowed in the sewing room. Sometimes I like company though :)

BUT. One of them has a kitty helper, so I'm trying to spice things up.

Also, hold your hats for full-on Christmas craft mode next week. Or the week after. Because I have a business trip next week. Incidentally, what's the rule on bringing hand-sewing items on an airplane? Like little scissors and needles and pins?

Monday, November 19, 2012

So many advent calendars

I work about 50 hours a week at a nonprofit.

I've been spending every other spare minute I have for the past week either prepping for or sewing advent calendars. I think I might sew all night Tuesday since I took Wednesday off work.

I think I might need to teach my cat to sew. Also, I ran out of white thread last night. Who does that?!


Today I'm mailing out another 3 calendars. And then there's only 9 more. I took down the listing so I don't drive myself too crazy. If I have some extra time I'll probably make a couple and list them in the shop over the weekend.

Here's to a happy [and productive] Monday! :)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Pattern-buying binge, say what?

Ok guys. I was a little bad last night. Or a lot bad.

I've recently had a crazy influx of orders in my Etsy shop. Whee! I'm putting almost every extra penny I have towards kitty surgery vet bills. But last night. Oh last night. In a weak moment while watching Homeland [one of my favorite shows by the way...add it to your list, you won't be sorry!] I put my Paypal balance to good use.

I bought:

Leather Accent Fold Over Clutch - I think these will make phenomenal gifts for some of my coworkers. I'm part of a small team of young 20-somethings [mostly] who are all volunteer managers for their respective programs that are under the umbrella of the city program. I'm loving the idea of assemly-line production on these!

Wiksten Tova - I've owned the Tank pattern for months now, and just haven't made it yet. But seriously. I want Marian's Tova so bad I can taste it. I think I'd happily give up a night of sleep to have enough time to make this

Grainline Scout Tee - What can I say, I need some shirts! I have an AMH Innocent Crush voile that is destined to become one of these basic tees.

I debated buying either the Colette Juniper trousers or the Sewaholic Thurlow trousers, but if I'm honest with myself I certainly won't have time to tackle my first pair of pants before the new year, so perhaps that's a good thing to put on my Christmas list!

I might have also bought fabric, but that's another post entirely ;)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


Today is less about the process and more about just simple enjoyment of a Pillow Talk Swap finish :)

18" square
Paper-pieced Comet pattern from EQ5
Straight line spiral quilting and free-motion "coloring"
Fabrics: Alexander Henry Crosshatch, AMH Field Study, American Jane Pezzy Print, Jenean Morrison Grand Hotel, Keiki Oops-a-Daisy, Lizzy House Jewels, Joel Dewberry Herringbone, Denyse Schmidt Chicopee, Kelly Lee-Creel Storybook Lane

*Linked with Quilt Story

Monday, November 12, 2012

A Case of the Mondays

Happy Monday to all!

I've had to give up my Saturdays for the past two weeks to work, and it officially hit me that I've not really had any moment to relax in a few weeks, since I always use my one day free to clean/do laundry/take care of sewing obligations.

Luckily I have a couple things that are keeping me happy this morning:

This bundle of Don't Be Crabby! from Laurie Wisbrun to make up the quilt for one of the patterns I've been working on. Her fabrics are fantastic for cute little focal details and fussy cutting. She was nice enough to send this bundle after I approached her with an idea that just wasn't going to be feasible on her end. Can't wait to cut into it!

Now, this is a terrible picture, but it gets the point across. I have lots of fabric coming in a couple different orders in the next few days, with this being the first! I'm on a fabric-buying freeze, but I had to buy yardage of Winterkist for shop orders, so I just made the orders all worth my while ;)

And finally, quilting in progress! I'll have my finished Pillow Talk Swap package to show tomorrow.

Hope you have something to cure your case of the Mondays! :)