Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Prodigal Quilt Returns

Though I feel like I haven’t talked about it much here, when it comes to creativity, I am a quilter above all else.

I’ve been away from quilting for awhile, but recently, I have taken up needle, thread and thimble again. And it feels good.

I’ve talked before about how I “punish” quilts that aren’t cooperating with me. This is one of those quilts. The pattern is from Appliqué Delights by Becky Goldsmith and Linda Jenkins, my all time favorite appliqué book by my all time favorite appliquers. I am doing the appliqué by hand and the piecing by machine, which is how I usually work.

I finished the center block in record time, but then lost steam. I blamed the quilt, put it in a basket, shoved it against the wall, and banished it to serve a punishment of indeterminate length.

Sara recently got me hooked on watching Criminal Minds. How does that relate, you ask? Well, because of the hours I am now spending in front of the television watching serial killers, I needed some handwork. Nothing goes with senseless murder quite like hand sewing!

After well over a year, this work in progress is now enjoying the light of day again, and I am enjoying working on it!

The big question remains: will it get finished without being punished again?

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Friday, May 27, 2011

Challenge Announcement

We're getting ready for spring by challenging ourselves to make a craft for the garden! Projects due on Wednesday - but plenty of other fun in the meantime!

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Reversible Tote Bag

Yesterday on Facebook, I alluded to the bag I made in my most recent class at Scrapbooks, Etc. (And in case anyone is wondering, I am not paid for all the endorsements I make of that store, but I’m starting to think that perhaps I should be! J)

 This is a reversible tote bag that is about the size of those reusable shopping bags that you can buy. This one has a pretty substantial interfacing on both layers to make it really sturdy and able to stand up on its own. The handles have four rows of top stitching for look and added strength.

It coordinates nicely with my sewing box, huh? I didn’t plan that!

During this class, I learned a different way to construct a bag. This one is just like a box and I’d never done that before. These classes are so fun and I love learning from these amazing women who have been sewing for years.
At the class, the fabrics were pre-cut and fused – and our kits came with a whole spool of coordinating thread. And the pattern to make more, and I’m sure I’ll make more.
four rows of top stitching
This class cost me $16.20 and I came away with this! Amazing, right? That included the class, the fabrics, the thread, & the pattern. It took about two hours and I walked away with a finished project – that’s my kind of class.
In case you’re feeling bad for Scrapbooks Etc and afraid that they lost money on the class – don’t fret. I shopped and signed up for two more classes in June. I know, I have a problem.

As you’ve probably detected, I’m on a bit of a sewing with knits kick. Here, here, here and here. Accordingly, I picked up some knit yardage! The black and whites are from Michael Miller and the aqua dot is from Moda City Weekend, and all of them were 30% off!
I’m planning to enter the Skirt Contest over at Crafterhours so you may see these knits in a big girl skirt for myself very soon.

Oh and that “fairy dust” fat quarter there … that’s just a little something something for another project that should be in the works soon!  
This afternoon, we'll post our next challenge! Stay tuned ...

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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Lavender Linen Water with Recipe

I’m off to quilt camp in a couple of weeks. I thought it might be fun to bring a little gift for each of the ladies going up. I didn’t want to spend a ton of money, but yet, I wanted it to be a fun, useful item. After rejecting several ideas, I decided to make everyone a bottle of lavender scented linen water.

What is linen water, you ask? You spritz it on your fabric to create steam (you can also pour it into your iron’s resevoir). Since the water is scented, your entire house will smell like lavender when you use it, as will your fabric and clothes. It makes pressing way more enjoyable!

The recipe is simple:

To make approximately 1 cup, mix together:
1 cup distilled water
2.5 tbsp vodka (yup, I said vodka)
40 drops lavender essential oil

To make approximately 1 gallon, mix together:
1 gallon distilled water (pour off 1 cup—save to use in your iron)
¾ cup vodka
1 oz bottle lavender essential oil

You do need to use essential oil which is available at health food stores. Make sure the bottle says “essential oil.” You can use cheap vodka... save the good stuff for the Mint Chocolate Chip Grasshopper Martinis.

I have used this recipe for years and love it. It has never stained nor yellowed my fabric. Some argue that the vodka has a starchlike quality as well, but I can’t vouch for that. I can promise you that when I use it, my house smells less like a pack of beagles and more like a field of flowers!

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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Winner of the Box Challenge is....


Sarah retains the tiara for another two weeks for her project the Display Box Table.

You can read about the Display Box Table here.  You can read about Sara's project, Fabric Covered Holiday Storage Boxes here.

Thanks for voting!

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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Crocheted Rings, So Cute!

Do you follow Bramcost Publishing on Facebook?  How about their blog: http://blog.bramcostpublications.com/? They post awesome vintage patterns all the time.  I'm not in any way affiliated with Bramcost, I'm just a fan.  You should think about checking them out.
Just recently, they posted this pattern for crocheted beaded rings: http://blog.bramcostpublications.com/2011/01/06/ring-in-the-vintage-new-year-day-6a-vintage-beaded-ring-pattern.aspx. I’m in love with these fun rings and can’t stop making them!
I’ve been using elastic thread available from any Joann’s. I would highly recommend picking up some beading needles while you’re there as it will make your life easier.

The rings are super simple to make. The hardest thing is that you are working on a small scale so it’s sometimes hard to see your stitches (keep in mind, I did just get a prescription for TRIfocals so it could just be me!). With that said, the elastic is very forgiving so if you skip a stitch here or there, you probably won’t notice it.
You can use any size beads, not just the sizes listed. As long as the beads are large enough to be strung onto the elastic thread, you can use them. The larger the bead, the larger your ring.  You can also vary the size of the ring by changing up how many beads you use.
Like potato chips, I think you’ll find with these rings that it’s hard to stop at just one!

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Monday, May 23, 2011

Another Ruffle Top

The other week, some friends and I took our daughters to see Cinderella at the local children's theater. Its our tradition to take them to a nice "big girl" breakfast beforehand. As we were sitting there, I was asking what they wanted for their daughters' upcoming birthdays (the kids are still young enough, I can get away with asking the moms, what do you want for ...). Audrey just happened to be wearing her bike shirt that I made a while back. See ...

She ate ALL my whip cream!

Anyway, when the moms realized that I made Audrey's shirt they said they definitely wanted shirts like that for their daughters' birthdays! Yay! I love it when someone requests something SPECIFIC ... I just work better that way (otherwise, I get bogged down and never make a decision about what to make, and end up at Target at the last minute!) - boo!

Saturday morning before the party (yes, still last minute, but doable) I made this shirt for our friend. It only takes about 1 to 1.5 hours. We took it to "Peter Pipe" for the birthday party and I think the birthday girl liked it! I know her mommy did at least! :)

If you look closely, do you see the cute ribbon marking the back center? I love little touches like this ... and that ribbon coordinated so well with this cute fabric. I wish I has a picture of this on a model, but someone in my house who is the same age (almost) as the b'day girl, straight refused to participate. :(

Fabric: Dream on by Urban Chks for Moda.
Pattern: Ruffle Sleeve Top Tutorial (here) by Sparkle Power
(sizing tweaked to fit a 4-year old)

I feel as if I got lucky at the fabric shop recently when I found this Moda print on sale. It was precut and marked as approximately 1 yard for only $4.50. There was definitely AT LEAST 1 yard in there! I have enough to make at least 1 more of these, maybe 2. So you may very well see more of these coming in the near future! Oh and that same day at the fabric store, the stars must've aligned just right or something because this whole line of Moda prints was 40% off (on the bolt). So yes, I bought even more. And there is still another birthday around the corner, so you'll see this again. Next time I think I will use a coordinating fabric for the sleeves to switch it up :)

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Friday, May 20, 2011

Another Shirt for Me! and Sewing Machine Discovery

I introduce you to my Lil Blue Boo Pieced Tunic No. 3! I daresay that I may be obsessed with this pattern, ok all of Ashley's patterns from Lil Blue Boo ... I love knits, her patterns are easy to follow, fit is super flattering and always comfy! And, now that I've gotten the hang of this tunic, it really is quick to sew!

I bought some Modal Spandex from this eBay store and used it for the top front & top back pieces (the pink). It's pretty slippy and a little tricky to sew, but SO WORTH IT. It really does drape beautifully and it's SO soft. When sewing the spandex to spandex, I definitely had to start at a middle point and sew out to the ends to avoid my machine "eating" it. (I don't have a serger -YET - so this was done on my regular sewing machine w/ a ball point needle).

Other than the pink spandex, I upcycled tee shirts & some jersey.
  • Hog's Breath Tee from Key West circa 2001. I bought this for my then boyfriend, now husband. He never liked so I just took it back! Hog's Breath is a staple in Key West; what's he thinking?
  • The gray is from an Atlantic Beach tee shirt ... I didn't get a good picture of it, but you can see a little of the words in the pic above.
  • Grey / white stripe - in waistband. In a desperate move to add stripes to this tunic ... I ran to Goodwill and crossed my fingers. I came away with a ladies shirt in this grey /white stripe for $4. Sold!
  • The ribbed knit for the neck and arm bands is also upcycled. Years ago, I made a MOBY wrap for myself because I couldn't see the sense in paying $50 for a long piece of knit. I no longer have a need for it, so I have started cutting into it and it's just perfect for the 'bands.'
Speaking of the neck and arm band ... if you're making these or any knit items with a neck or arm band and having some trouble, check out this video! Wow! This helped me SO MUCH in making Tunic No. 3. Being able to see someone else do it properly helped me alot. It was also incredibly helpful to see how to 'quarter' the neck band since the front is so much lower than the back. Really helped me out. The video is by Threads Magazine, which appears to be a great resource! I decided to buy the current issue @ Joann's the other night to see what it's all about - I haven't gotten to it yet, but maybe this weekend!?!

I'm still  a fan of the racerback!

Attempted close up shot of the quote ... this was the front of the Hog's Breath tee; flipped around and used on the back.

What about my discovery? It's a new stitch that I've discovered on my sewing machine! When I saw down to make these tunics, I decided to read up in my sewing machine manual about "stretch stitches". I tested them all and discovered that I really like this one called "slant overedge." It creates a seam AND finishes it at the same time. Since I'm sewing on a regular sewing machine (Singer Confidence), this is a big time saver. I use this stitch in lieu of a straight stitch followed by zig zagging the seams. Also, I seriously think this just looks better. It lays very flat - I liked it enough to put it on the right side in tunic no. 2 (on the back). (I really wish I'd discovered this sooner - it would have been helpful with these pieced jersey dresses with all those layers!?)

Anyway, here are the tunics in sequential order; I do love them all and wear them all! I have so much more modal spandex left (a "cosmic" silver and some pretty blue / aqua), that I'm pretty sure I'll make more. Maybe I'll take a page from Fashioned by Meg's book and switch up the pattern because how cute is her variation in this post? I love it! And, I love that bustle skirt she made (which is from a free LBB pattern). Hmmm, this is why blogging is so much fun - you never run out of inspiration!

Tunic No. 1

Tunic No. 2

Tunic No. 3 - I swear my mother taught me to put my shoulders back ... why didnt' I just do it in this pic? Grrr.

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Thursday, May 19, 2011

LBB Beret

Pattern: Lil Blue Boo The Blue Beret Pattern - this one's a freebie!
Fabrics: Upcycled Old Navy toddler tee (print) and old green t-shirt (trim)

Audrey refers to this beret as "her doctor hat" ... pretty clever, right?

Given my recent tunics and dresses, I'm almost afraid to post this and reveal that I've recently been a tad obsessed w/ LBB patterns! I tend to get on a roll with stuff and I've been on a knit kick lately, and these patterns are so precise & easy to follow.

Yes, she is still playing with her Fabric Nesting Doll that I made for our last challenge!

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Finished Quilt!

At long last, I can say my first quilt is finished! It turned out beautiful & I love it! It's found a new home on our couch and since it's backed w/ Minky ... everyone wants to use it! Here are some pics of the finished quilt and a few more tips I learned in Quilt Class with the talented Louise @ Scrapbooks, Etc. It's true - even if you know how to sew, you can always learn SOMETHING from a class! Plus group sewing is just fun.

I guess the story of this quilt would be this ... I fell in love with this fabric and spontaneously bought a jelly roll. I thought I'd make pieced pillows with it, but, then while at the Sew Sampler class with Sarah back in March, I saw this quilt sample on the wall. I chatted w/ the instructor, asked some questions and quickly became convinced that I could do it! SO - I bit the bullet. I signed up for the class, reserved the jelly roll for the quilt front, and then picked up some additional fabrics for the center squares, border & binding. The class was taught over the course of a month w/ meetings every Monday night (I have links at the bottom of this post w/ my progress week to week).

the quilting is a pretty swirly design that resembles butterflies - compliments of Louise

quilting detail on front side
Tips I learned during this process:
  • Learn how to properly thread your bobbin. Duh. My bad.
  • Put the needle all the way down WITH THE PRESSER FOOT UP ... slide fabric RIGHT up to needle, and THEN lower presser foot. This ensures proper tension, especially if you have an "auto" tension gauge on your machine, which I do. I never did this before, but it does seem to be helping.
  • Use a thimble when hand sewing the binding. You will suffer injuries w/o one. :)
  • When pressing seams (which you do ALL THE TIME  when you're quilting) "heat" the threads before you press the seams. What? If you have a 2 squares sewn together, while they are still folded (presumably w/ right sides together) ... quick press ("heat") the seam on the wrong side. When you open up the two squares to press them flat, it'll be easier. I love it.
  • If you use a Singer, buy a walking aka even feed foot if you're going to use Minky.
  • Do not use steam when you're pressing fabric that has already been cut to its precise size. Steam will distort the fabric and that's not good. I've not put steam in my iron since I learned this a few weeks ago!
  • If you're using precut fabrics (like a jelly roll, etc), chances are it has pinked edges. When cutting such fabrics, measure by and to the OUTSIDE tips of the pinked fabric, or the widest points.
  • corner close up
    In this class, I also learned how to attach bias strips so that they lay flat when attached, to make mitered corners, and how to attach binding to quilt and hand stitch with a blind stitch. I'm thankful to have these two tips in my sewing arsenal!
    All in all, this was a fun class and I love the outcome. I will probably take another class sometime, but it may be a while. It's a serious commitment - a quilt that is. I really liked having a "long term" project going while I continued w/ my usual quick fix crafts. Someday, I'd love to learn how to actually do the quilting part because I don't think I can fancy myself a quilter until I actually do the entire quilt!
     Fabrics Used:
  • Robert Kaufman Daisies & Dots Line (jelly roll for the blocks + yardage for border & binding)
  • Aqua Minky (front center squares and back)
  • I absolutely love the contrast of the aqua minky & the bright red binding. I think this is a color combo that will never get old to me!
    The rest of my quilt class posts: Class 1, Class 2, and Class 3. PS: One of these days, perhaps my actual sewing will reflect the very long mental list of things I want to make ... like coordinating pillows with all the wonderful scraps I have from this quilt!
I am participating in the Bloggers' Quilt Festival over at Amy's Creative Side!

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