Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Hawthorne Threads Order and Scrap Pack "Review"

Ha! It's that time again, time to make a dangerous post about fabric buying that makes me want to go shopping. Mainly wanting to share a sampling of what another fabric store offers in their scrap bundles.

I heard of Hawthorne Threads awhile ago, and if you sign up for their newsletter they currently have a giveaway link in it every week, so I get regular reminders of all the great products they carry.

I'd wanted to order some GeoCentric canvas for a travel kit for my husband (Intrepid Thread doesn't carry it or I would've already had it in my grubby hands),  so I took the opportunity to grab a couple more fabrics for the Tula Pink QAL @ sew sweetness.  I also got a warm and a fresh scrap bundle because I am obsessed with mystery bundles and had been waiting for an excuse to order from Hawthorne so I could check them out.

My package arrived quickly and when I opened it my first thought was "I didn't order any (more) Riley Blake chevrons?!?!?"  I soon sorted through the pile and realized that all those fabrics were in fact bits of the bundles.

Warm Scrap Pack
The bundles aren't bagged or anything but they put they put my yardage in between the two bundles to keep them separated, so here they are.  Do I know that I am sure which is which and I labeled them correctly? Not 100%!  I think they include a great variety of prints, and though all aren't my taste, as you can see there's some pretty great stuff there.

Hmm I always like to give a downside to a website.  Their main links only show 5 fabrics per collection so you have to click a link to see the entire thing, which is great if you know what you're looking for but you might miss out on seeing the fabric or two from a line you would like if you don't have the time to click on each one, cause there's a lot to look at.

Fresh Scrap Pack
Also, the only downside to the bundles - a lot of the fabrics were skinny quarters, and didn't have selvage with the names of the fabric on it.  I knew what a lot of them were but a couple of them I couldn't find on the website even with their sort by color feature, including the print I happened to be drawn to most.  I happened to find it while browsing another store yesterday though luckily. (Laura Gunns' Textured Polka Dot in Spice)

Not a big deal for most people, but I thought I'd mention it.  I'm resisting ordering more fabric until I make a dent in what I already have, but I'll certainly be ordering from Hawthorne again so I can justify getting more of the scrap packs.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Effie & Ollie Elephant Pincushion & Pincushion Swap

So I just participated in my first item swap, a pincushion swap at

I'd seen the Effie & Ollie pincushion by Heather Bailey online, and when I wandered across it my local quilt store I had to get it.  I googled it and found out a couple things -
1. people like to make them and sell them on etsy
2. stuffing the legs full enough so it will actually stand up seemed to be a daunting task, let alone stand up tall enough so the trunk isn't touching the ground.

I was too intimidated to make it so it's hung there on my corkboard for several months taunting me.

When the pincushion swap came up, I saw that my swap partner, Debbie at, had some adorable animals in her projects, so it seemed like a fortuitous time to buckle down and try it. I'll say a bit about the pattern - It was mostly straightforward, but had to re-do part of it when I struggled with one of the 90 degree angles when it didn't line up correctly (there are some challenging angles awhich I hadn't worked with before), and other reviews I read were right, it IS a bit difficult to sew the last pieces on with all the curves and small pieces, mainly to get it to go together perfectly at the front point between the eyes.

A couple recommendations I'll make about this pattern - the instructions have stitching or sewing buttons on for eyes as the last required step.  Despite my best efforts they didn't come out perfectly even, so I suggest doing this step before the pieces are sewn together.  

Also, the opening on the elephant's stomach got stretched a bit when stuffing it, so I'd also recommend that minimally you baste back the seam allowances before stuffing, so it can be stitched closed more neatly than I was able to accomplish.

Now the pincushion I received, well my partner went all out.  More details of her project are here. She managed to combine the theme of orange/blue/green with the fact that it's just about Halloween.  I love her play on the orange to make it look like a pumpkin, how awesome is that?  Not only that but she paid attention to every detail and included all these wonderful touches and extras (the flower pins!!!  the little scissors with a hand stitched pouch!!! even a glittery spider!!!!).  I love how it's a pincushion on one side and a roomy carrying pouch on the other, and she filled it with color coordinated sewing goodies! 
Apples to Oranges Sewing kit - done by Sewzalot

And now it's time for a disclaimer -I just need to put a big rant here at the end.  Projects swaps can be stressful!   I am now pretty sure my sewing skills aren't ready to share with the world. I almost scratched the elephant and tried something different (simple) but stubbornly went ahead, and then I just panicked for a couple weeks until it was time to mail it.  Phew!

I did cut out the fabric for an elephant for myself, and in retrospect it's obvious I should have made mine first to work out any kinks but I had my hands full with quilts, so I didn't, and it still hasn't gotten sewn together yet. If I do get brave enough to tackle a swap again, I'm taking a lesson from Debbie on how to make my swap item extra special.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Winding Ways Block Pillow

LillyBelle pillow being aloof and ignoring the other pillows
In August, Julie of The Intrepid Thread posted a picture of a pillow she made that I fell in love with and immediately pinned to pinterest.  I asked about the pattern and she said it was an adaptation of a winding ways block, and she used 2" strips for the print fabrics.  I've been up to my neck in quilts so normally I would let a project like this languish for months but I needed a quilt break one day so got busy with making this.

Julie is working on made a tutorial for her pillow now and I may re-attempt a second one using it.

I'm sure I'd have had better results in a few ways if I waited.  Hers is beautifully quilted, but I didn't use batting or interfacing to reinforce mine (which I would've if i'd taken a last look at hers before sewing things together).  That would've helped with the lumpy look (think I've had this particular pillow insert for a decade or so) and it could've benefited from an extra 1/2" fabric length and width wise.

I've never done piecing like this before.  I was reluctant to pay $20 for templates if they were going to be used once then shoved into a drawer, so I searched around and took the cheapskate option of resizing and printing out the image of the winding ways block pieces at the Accuquilt website. Thank goodness for cardstock!

For the front I used the Lacis in blueberry and Lilly bouquet in dark prints from  LillyBelle & Kona cotton in Bone for the solid. There's a bit of rippling here and there and all my points dont line up but  I was happy to learn some new things.


The back....sigh, I had enough width for the back, measured and cut incorrectly and ended up 2" short. I ended up just sewing a strip of Kona along it and embellishing it with one of the not that impressive decorative stitches my machine has.

That probably would've been a great opportunity to sew in a zipper but I didn't even think of that til right this very moment ;) This seems like a good time to get started on some other pillow covers now that I've gotten the ball rolling!  

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Totally Groovy QAL wrapped up!

Phew, My totally groovy quilt is finally 100% done. This was a rewarding QAL in many ways - I learned curved piecing, followed my first actual quilt pattern, and tried 5 different styles of Free Motion Quilting.  (Though truth is I started with FMQ pebbles, then got increasingly simple with the designs as I realized what a big project it was.)  I enjoyed it enough that I am looking forward to trying some more of it though!  I want to thank Alyssa at Pile O' Fabric for making this happen.

Part of the problem with this quilt pattern  frankly, in my opinion, is that Emily Ciel chose just about the best color combination for the quilt and Angela Walters quilted it know what I'm saying?  For me it was going to be impossible to come close to the standards of the original without a great grasp on picking colors or quilting experience.

Nevertheless, my version has been really growing on me the last few weeks and I like it now!

I mentioned in earlier posts about the near day glow of a couple of the colors, but it seems to have toned down somewhat after being quilted.  For the back I found this sheet at Goodwill in equally bright colors, and decided it was perfect as is to use for the backing and trim.

So...I was in the middle of quilting when I realized one section that was supposed to end in a curve, did not!  The strip of fabric was long enough to line up with everything else, so it didn't even register that something was wrong (part of the problem when you are sewing something together in a few sections, failing to see the big picture) Then again it wouldn't be a quilt I made if there wasn't some quirky mistake.

I also lost my directional orientation when quilting the green, despite my trying to pay attention I started quilting it in the opposite direction :|

I opted for rounded corners for a couple reasons.
#1 ease in binding (that's right, I said it, sheer laziness!)
#2 thought it would look kinda cool

Biggest issue - I used spray basting AND safety pins, but because I was quilting one color at a time instead of from the center out, when I got to the last color there were a couple spots where a the quilt top shifted over during quilting leaving excess fabric in two parts of the darkest section (The Fig Tree Wheat).

For one of them I just gathered/ruffled it the best I could as I quilted it, in the other I took the section, tucked excess under, ironed it flat and quilted it.  Hope that doesn't happen to me again!

Moda Bella Solids
Fig Tree Wheat
Summer House Lime

Monday, October 15, 2012

Baby Blanket Finish

We have some friends due with their second baby this week (OK, we all know she's the one who has to give birth, but I want to be inclusive ;)
I am not too sure how this will go over for a few of reasons
1. Their house is minimalistic to say the least, not a lot of color present.
2. With the birth of their daughter they were not thrilled that people kept giving them pink stuff.  This one is a boy, and although the quilt isn't all blue, it sure has plenty of blue in it!
3.  They do that parenting thing where your kid sleeps in bed with you for the first couple of years instead of in a crib.  Not so sure what place a baby blanket has in the set up but now that I'm all gung ho into quilting, too bad, they get one anyway!

I made the back of the quilt first, a couple of months ago with Lesley Grainger's Pretty Paisley Flannel.

Originally I was considering it for the front but I like my soft cozy sides of things to be wrapped against me, so the back it was.  I was really pleased with sewing it, it didn't shed much at all when I pieced it together.

It's all nice and soft and I think I'll use the leftover scraps to make some rice hand warmers for the upcoming cold weather for myself and some Christmas gifts..

It was really nice of my husband to go out in the rain during half-time to hold the quilt up for me wasn't it?  I didn't get the perfect picture, but it was drizzling pretty hard on our heads as it was.

 I'd been laboring hard (tee hee get it?) to decide what pattern to use for the front for months, and was running out of time. Late last month I saw the Bizzy Kid quilt pattern by Cluck Cluck Sew.

I had to fit the front to be back so I adapted the pattern somewhat, used  4 and 8 inch blocks instead & added some alternative rows.  I also simplified it somewhat since I was a bit too short on fabric for the larger white and solid cross quartered squares. My finished size was 37" by 52"  (Thanks for the wise advice on word usage Susan (originally I said I bastardized the pattern :o)

The other fabrics used in the quilt besides Kona solids-
Fox Hollow by MonaLuna
Good life by Deena Rutter
Woodland Trails by Riley Blake
Even a wee bit of Apple of My Eye by Riley Blake got thrown in.

My one regret is that I quilted with stitch in the ditch, since I'm not experienced enough to choose a quilting method that would not detract from at least something somewhere..  So it's somewhat visible on the flannel side.

Their daughter Anna is 3 now, so the Little Pocket Pillowcase I made for the Zakka Style sew along earlier this year is finally going to be hers, so she isn't left out.  Hopefully it's an appropriate gift for a three year old!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Vermont Leaves & Paper Piecing

We spent most of a week in Vermont where my parents-in-law have some lovely peaceful acreage we enjoyed wandering around on. I tried not to miss my sewing machine too much!

Our flights were from Seattle to JFK, then to Burlington.  Sheesh SEA>JFK can feel like a long flight.  I decided to go ahead and pretend to believe what everybody was saying - "It's fun to paper piece while you travel" Didn't buy it for a minute by the way...

I printed out a bunch of 1" hexagons from Texas Freckles, cut out what seemed to be an incredible amount of pieces of fabric, and packed them for flying with my little 1" blade scissors. I also grabbed an "embroidery in progress" and some fabric and pattern for another embroidery project.

Stowe, VT

By the end of the first flight, I had almost all the hexies basted and some of them already sewn together. Besides the difficulties of threading a needle in turbulence, I had an amazingly fun time with it.  I was distraught that it went so quickly!  While in Vermont I sewed my favorite of the bunch together and ended up with this. >>>

What I WANT to do is make a funky purse with it, but I am really torn - it could grow and grow and grow into something giant!

Farah Lin's quilt
<<< Something giant like this

At Handmade by FarahLin she made a hexagon quilt that awed me awhile back - now thats 1033 1.5" hexagons.  Do I know the math it would take to figure out how many 1" hexagons it would take? Thank GOODNESS no. Maybe I start a second bunch of hexies and make a the purse and a skirt instead? 

I also came away from the trip gifted with a good variety of Christmas fabrics from my Mother in law, most of which I hope to turn into gift wrapping sooner or later!

Almost Christmas already isn't it :(

Monday, October 1, 2012

Scrappy Open Wide Zipper Pouches

Everybody and their mother has tried the wonderful tutorial for the open wide zippered pouch at Noodlehead.  I've been planning to make one for awhile, and found the perfect excuse (?) when I decided a friend must just need one, so therefore I needed one too.

Back sides
I thought I'd try them with some scrappy blocks since my scrap bin's overflowing.  I settled on a red & orange one for her, and a blue one for me.

The only problem I ran into was the fabric/zipper transition of the bit right under the tabbed zipper side.  Neither of them turned out particularly finished looking, and I had to sew one closed by hand where there was still a 1/4" opening.  I'll have to figure out if I didn't follow the directions closely enough or if there's some technique I can use to keep that from happening in the future.  I think I need firmer interfacing for bags too, all of mine is more suitable for garment sewing.

The one white and sienna block on the orange purse charms me because it's a 4.5"block from the wonky star engagment quilt I am working on finishing for her and her fiance.  I'm not sure she'll even make the connection when she DOES get the quilt, but I'm excited to include a bit of it into a smaller gift.
I used Riley Blake medium chevron in grey for the inner layer of both pouches.

The one thing that sucked (yes, I said it, sucked)  about using scrappy patchwork for this was that some of my favorite bits got chopped off when I made the box corners! That or they're on the bottom - something I'll have to keep in mind next time.

So the orange one is off to my friend next week, but the blue one is becoming my travel pouch.  We're off to the east coast to visit the in laws tomorrow.  I've got the teeny horrible airline approved scissors so I can do some embroidery and paper piecing during the flight...hopefully I'll manage to get some work done on the projects I got distracted from a few months ago when I went QAL crazy!