Wednesday, February 29, 2012

LTTSA: Play Town Link Up!

This was definitely the most fun I've had with a sew along project so far! It really surprised me how much I liked fussing over some of the details, which was well worth it. 

I'm really happy that I had to finish this today- Elsie's birthday present is ready almost 2 months early. So unlike me. I made a pretty elaborate gift for Hendrix's first, so I really wanted to do something special for hers too. I still plan on making some type of play mat to go with it, but I don't think that will be quite as much work.


I love the round window on this one. I used a blanket stitch on some windows, zig zag on others, and a few rounds of wonky straight stitches on others. (Both wonky and straight? Yes.) The brownstones have a very convenient scrap of text fabric for embellishment, as well as some other street scenes on the backs I didn't take a picture of. The wood grain is a Joel Dewberry Aviary home dec fabric and the other brownstone is Essex linen in black. 

The houses are Central Park by Kate Spain (the yellow), some seersucker from Sewn, and Alexander Henry Heath. Yes, this bird and car a bit off in proportions :)

So I should have explained earlier about the foam, but I'll share my pointers for anyone who is still working on their project. At Joann Fabrics, they sell upholstery foam in different thicknesses in sheets. In my local Joann, they are in the back by the batting and pillow forms. You need a 4" thick piece, then you can take it to the cutting counter and get them to cut it down to the size you need. The piece I got, shown above, is 1/3 of a yard, which I paid about $13 for with my 40% off coupon. As you can see, I had a lot of it left after cutting out my five buildings, so I probably could have got away with 1/4 yard. I just used one of our steak knives and it wasn't hard to cut. I traced the templates on both sides of the foam so I could always make sure I was cutting straight thru it. In my opinion, it was well worth splurging on the foam over using stuffing. The shape and feel of the houses are great with it. Plus, every other thing I used, I already had on hand, so $13 is pretty good for a birthday present right?

I completed hand stitching the bottoms this morning. You know this isn't my favorite part of any project, but the basting stitches she has you do on the bottom of all the walls really helped. I would have been a mess without those. And I think I'm finally getting the hang of blind stitching after having my mom tutor me about a dozen times. 

Time to share your projects- Remember this month's winner gets a pattern and clothing labels from Figgy's! You have until one week from now, and as always, you can link up a blog post or flickr photo of any project from Little Things To Sew. 

Saturday, February 25, 2012

LTTSA Play Town: All in the Details

So now that I've started on this project, I think I might be having the most fun yet. There are so many ways to add great details with trims, appliqu├ęs and fun stitching. And I love the fact that I've used only scraps. I'm going to get my foam this weekend, with a 50% off Joann's coupon in hand. You could opt to use Polyfil if you have some on hand, but the buildings would not stand up and keep a square shape as well. Have you seen Liv's little bike shop? Adorable.

What ideas have you had for shops and buildings? Any special trims you are putting to use? I can't wait to see everyone's creativity!

Don't forget, we will link up starting Wednesday, but you will have a full week from then to add your play towns or any other project from the book Little Things to Sew. (If you are new around here and want to know what I'm talking about, check out the sew-along tab at the top of my page.) You could win an awesome pattern from Figgy's!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Sparkle Baby Quilt Done!

I LOVE this quilt. It might be my favorite yet. I made it for a family member, but it is going to be hard to give it up. But at the same time I'm really excited to give it to them. I finally got to use my swapped and hoarded Echino (well, just 4 out of 28 squares, but still) and I think the sparkle block is perfect for them. I really wanted them to stand out, so I only made three of the blocks and then framed them in this fantastic black yarn-dyed Essex linen from Fresh Modern Fabric. I need a LOT more of this stuff. 

It's a little hard to tell, but the quilting lines switch directions a lot and go all over the place. There are places where I was quilting in angles that were less than 45 degrees, which was not easy. But after washing it everything worked itself out.

I left the scooter square un-quilted because I'm going to add some hand stitching there with perle cotton. Can you believe I've never tried it before? I'm hoping it doesn't get too distracting from the design. If it does, I guess I can just cut it out. 

The back is Loulouthi hugs and kisses in gold (which is also the binding) as well as a Michael Miller word search print and another text print from Ikea, and a little more Echino. The quilt ended up about 40" by 45." Thanks for the fun QAL Jeni and Megan!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Slow Progress vs. Instant Grat

This weekend I thought about all the projects I should be starting on, like my For the Love of Solids swap items or my play mat and town... Then I continued working on some slow cookers instead. I now have 19 Japanese + & x blocks done, plus a few more cut out. You can see all of them here. And now that the secret is out, I can tell you about the whole reason I became addicted to these and started this scrappy quilt. The first two I tried were for a sneaky collaborative quilt for Rachel, made by a bunch of us in the do. Good Stitches charity bee. What's funny is that she saw my first post about these blocks back in December and she loved them and was inspired to start the scrap-attack quilt along going on over on her blog. My first thought was that I had potentially ruined our secret gift quilt idea, because if you follow Rachel, you know she moves FAST. I was positive she would just whip up her own + & x before we could get ours together. Luckily, she went with her awesome scrappy triangle design instead, and of course she loved the gift quilt. And I guess it would not be horrible to have two + & x quilts? Anyway, I just thought it was really funny that her inspiration for the Scrap Attack was actually inspired by her. So meta...

I also completed a second Swoon last week! It's a little daunting that I still have 7 of these to make. (and they certainly take me more than 2 hours, more like 4!) But man, each one you finish is really satisfying in itself. 

And I just love the middle square on this one. So fun.

 As much as I love chipping away at my big quilty projects, today I needed to make something super quick. Something that I could see put to use immediately. So I grabbed a couple scraps and made headbands for our friend Lily who was over to play. There, my sewing put to good use right away. That's better!

Also, this one decided to take her first couple steps this weekend! I love that little baldy face!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

LLTSA: Play Town Plans and Prizes

Confession: I was just not pumped about this month's sew-along project. I mean, I love it, it's adorable. I just wasn't feeling it. Didn't want to make it.

Two things are changing my mind and lighting a fire a under my sewing pants. (Do I have sewing pants? I should.)

Firstly, I got a plan for the how and the why. I finally realized this week that this needs to be part of Elsie's birthday present. Yes, I said birthday. Sorry I made you spit your coffee all over the computer, but it's true- Elsie's turning one in a couple months. So I'm pulling out the girliest of my scraps for a cutesy little town. And I'm going to make a play mat to go with it, kind of like this one I made a long time ago. Except, instead of being a volcanic habitat kind of thing, it will be a beautiful day in the neighborhood kind of thing.

Now I have a purpose. I can move forward!

Secondly, I'm REALLY excited about the prize we've procured this month. I know I always say that, and it's always true because I would never wanna give you guys a prize I wouldn't be over the moon to get. But this month... I get a little a flutter in the sewing part of my heart.

Shelly of Figgy's Patterns is giving away the pattern of your choice!! Because some of you won't click over immediately, I'll just show you the indie chic her brand new patterns are serving up-

I die:

This makes me think something that no mother of a precious-want-her-to-stay-like-this-forever 9 mo baby girl should ever think. That I cannot wait until she is 18 months so she can rock this toddler fashionista business. Those are the thoughts of a slightly crazy person.

Plus, the winner will get a pack of these super cute woven labels you can put in all your handmade goods. Love that.

So, I do apologize for my lackluster leadership this month, but I'm snapping out if it and I hope this makes up for it. Are you guys making a couple playhouses? Are you recreating favorite places in your neighborhood or maybe imagining a whole new kind of candy town or gnome village? Or are you giving something else from the book a try?

Saturday, February 11, 2012

This Week

We are operational again folks. 

So much has happened this week! The block above is actually part of a finished quilt now, inspired by the Sparkle Quilt-Along. Hopefully I'll be able to get some pictures and show you soon. I was so happy to find the perfect block to finally show off some of my hoarded Echino. 

I had lots of good mail built up after getting back from vacation. That definitely helped soothe the post-vacay blues. These adorable vintage dresses came from Stacy. She swapped for a box full of children's clothing patterns for the 50's and 60's. I know she will put them to good use, and Elsie will look pretty dang cute in these- thanks Stacy!

The top package is my winnings from Tara's jacket sew-along, and the bottom is some swapped fabric from Nicke. Both such very generous packages!

HST block

I couldn't resist putting Nicke's Kona Coal to use right away on some star blocks. Have you noticed that everyone seems to have gone star crazy lately? There are so many great star tutorials out there to try. I'm hoping that this eventually becomes a quilt with a plethora of stars on a dark nighttime-y background. On the left is Sheila's Quattro Stagioni star and on the right is Jeni's HST sawtooth star.

Since I'm kind of just dumping everything worth blogging about into this post, I'll tell you two more good bits of news-

First, that I'm the new vice president of the Cincinnati Modern Quilt Guild! Granted, the election was uncontested :) But I'm so excited to serve this year with president Andie, as well as the rest of the board- Sarah S, Sarah H, and Danielle. I've been a member since the fall, and the guild has meant so much to me creatively. It's kind of like my inspirational internet peeps come to life. I love it!

Second, on Friday I taught my first class at Sewn Studio! I was pretty happy with how everything went, and my students seemed to be as well. It was the first of a two-part sewing with knits class making this raglan tee pattern. I always have this totally unreasonable anxiety when it comes to those types of situations that I will suddenly forget everything I know about whatever topic I'm talking about... or that I don't really know what I'm talking about to begin with. Of course, neither of those things happened. And people said they actually learned a lot. That's pretty exciting to hear as a newbie teacher.

Just wanna say thanks for reading. Sometimes I'm such a flakey blogger that it annoys me. Other times, I'm flakey and I don't care one bit because I'm cuddling babies or having living room dance parties or making so many things that I can't find time to write about them. Either way, some of you come around quite often and your comments make me real happy. So thanks!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Hi... Apologies... Winner

So we have been back from our vacation for a few days now. But the power cord to our laptop decided to stop charging and I am computerless. (does anyone else with a MacBook Pro have that problem? This is the second or third power cord we have fried somehow.) I thought I had better send word to you about the sew-along because you are all on pins and needles :) The winner of the Oliver & S digital pattern is KJ of let's go fly a kite! Congrats KJ! (I can't show you my screen grab, but I promise it's legit!) Please email me KJ to let me know what pattern you'd like. Man, blogging on your phone is the worst so I'll keep it brief. February is still play town month. You can keep this one as simple or complex as you'd like. I'd say 1 or 2 houses count as a town, right? I've been planning mine and will try to show you pictures soon. Of course this happens to me the month that the Oliver & S blog links to our sew along! Thanks for your patience, talk to you soon!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Grandma's 85th Birthday Quilt

This is my husband's grandmother Lottie. She turned 85 this week! One of the main reasons we made this long trip to Florida was to celebrate her special day. We threw a big party and about 80 friends and family members showed up to honor her amazing spirit. It was such a great time.

Of course, I had to make her a quilt for her birthday! Isn't it funny when you start quilting how no other gift could possibly be as good to give someone on an occasion like this? I literally felt like I couldn't have avoided making her this quilt even if I had tried. Oh the quilty powers...

I wanted to make her something with a very vintage feel. Someone at a CMQG meeting a few months ago had brought in a vintage bow tie quilt someone in their family had made that had red as the background. I'm not sure why, since that's not normally my thing, but I was enamored with that red and decided I would have to use it in a quilt one day. The solid I used is Bella Country Red. I almost couldn't buy a color by that name based on principle alone. Country red? But it was the perfect color for this quilt.

Most of the prints are DS Quilts for Joann's, which I bought because someone gave me a gift card there. Then I added a few other fabrics from my stash. I really regret using that lime green AMH hugs and kisses print. I hate feeling that way about one little decision when a quilt is finished. That color shows up in some of the other prints, so I thought it would work well. When I finished those individual blocks, I hated the way it looked on the red but figured I should just keep going and it would look fine in the whole quilt. I was wrong. Blurg. Of course, no one else but me minds that. Lottie was over the moon excited about the gift, and still keeps talking about how she can't get over it. That's all that matters.

One thing I am happy about is the way my free-motion quilting turned out! The meandering stipple thing really stresses me out when I try it because I don't have a plan for where I am going. I mean, I try to make a plan, but I get lost and freak out :)  So with this I used a retractable chalk pencil (new favorite marking tool ever!) to mark my rows of loopty-loops. From there, it was pretty smooth sailing and I finished really quickly. Much faster than the close straight line quilting I normally do.

The back is almost all leftovers and the binding is pre-made Moda bias binding in Bella Silver. We carry it at Sewn in lots of solids and it is the best time-saver. You can buy it by the yard, and it is just as soft as Moda Bellas, because that's what it is.

The cracker pattern was inspired by this quilt I spotted in a Tennessee antique shop. I loved the simplicity of the block pointed all in one direction like that. I had never seen this pattern, but of course once I had it on my mind I began seeing it pop up around the internet, like Angela's beautiful modern version. I constructed my blocks like this, but changed the dimensions to make them oversized.

We are still here in Florida, having a wonderful time. But man, am I having sewing withdrawals. And I still have until Monday to home to my machine!

{Sew} Modern Monday at Canoe Ridge Creations