Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Sprightly Fabrics Order and Review

Sprightly Fabrics Order
I was lucky enough to win a prize via Sprightly Fabrics' Facebook page, and took that as a sign from fate I needed to order some extra fabric from them on Etsy too!  I'm trying to add more green to my stash.

I opted for the Tina Given's Haven Edge FQ bundle of Pagoda Lullaby in celery, and a yard each of Poetica in Serenade Moonlight by Patricia Bravo for Art Gallery,  Dainty Blossoms dots in green by Carina Gardner for Riley Blake, & Grand Hotel Mezzanine in sand by Jenean Morrison.

Now what I won was a FQ bundle of Tula Pink's Nightshade, and I was accidentally sent the other prize they had a giveaway for, a giant bundle of scraps (if you can call them scraps at all, it's 4-5 yards of fabric all told).  I love Tula Pink but I wasn't sure what to make with Nightshade except for "something for my sister" (would've had tons of ideas for it when I was younger).  I spoke with Monique at Sprightly Fabrics and since I was happy with the scraps, she said to go ahead and opt for keeping them.
lovely scrap bundle, inclusive of some Apple of my Eye for Riley Blake which I have some of already

Now the shop has all the Tula Pink - The Birds & The Bees in, hate to think what my order would've looked like if they'd already had that in stock when I ordered ;)  I had the highly stuffed envelope in my hand several days later, and the fabrics all arrived nice and crisp and unwrinkled so I'm a happy camper with my order too.

I was waiting to post until I finished my Modern Medallion Quilt, but although the front is all put together (and I did use some of the Poetica in Serenade Moonlight that came with this order) I still have 4 or so hours of embroidery to do before we start the hand stitching of the sandwich, hopefully I can finish that in the next few days!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Zakka Style Sew Along - Delightful Linen Bag(s)

complete with lint!

Joann's linen on the left, Essex linen on the right
I thought this week's Zakka Style project was going to be perfect for packaging gifts for the holidays.  I  decided to try one with some linen from Joann's that I picked up purely for the Zakka Style Sew along, and one out of some Essex Linen which I just got last week from Sew Mama Sew! (with a gift card I won from a previous week's Zakka style project!) and hadn't worked with before.  The difference is pretty obvious.  The Joann's frayed a lot more, and doesn't feel or look anywhere as nice as the Essex.

I used Hug Snug seam binding to bind the top, and embroidery floss to secure it with a running stitch (after basting it).  On the Joann's I also put another layer of Hug Snug around the inside with fusible web tape, which I think makes the inside look a bit prettier than it did.  I also used Hug Snug for just about everything else (the rolls do come with 100 yards after all!).  For the Joann's I did a loop for the button, but for the Essex I decided to make it so I could close it with a bow instead.

Essex pouch, back ribbons passed through the front loop and tied, so..reflective of the flash!!!

extra layer of Hug Snug fused sorta evenly on the Joann's bag

I planned on making a inspirational bit of cross stitch for the Essex pouch but well...I have so many other things I'm working on I didn't!  (And I'm like...what do I make...something that says THRIVE! ?  GROW! ?...really I couldn't figure out what was both gift givey and also works with Aneela Hoey's little red riding hood.

There's a good chance I'll take that red lacy bit off of it  though, I'm pretty sure it's purpose was to decorate lingerie :o  I'm finding I'm seriously short on buttons, ribbons, and other decorative bits, but that's OK since embellishing things isn't my forte.  My trimmings came from Fabric Mart,  the Joann's trim and red lacy bits from a random trim bundle and the Essex's Mokuba ribbon purchased on purpose.  (Does that explain any embarassment I have about my odd decorating?)

Overall I loved this project from the Zakka Style book. Direction wise, it was a bit confusing, as it said you had to have scraps of lining and linen that were at least 8 x 13", then further down asked for two 6.5 x 7.5" pieces... that meant I cut the 8 x 13 and then would've wasted the 1/2" excess.  Instead I cut it to 6.5 x 8" but I still didn't understand the purpose of different dimensions.

This is nice because you can cut it for any size from a softcover book or Ipad or magazine (with subscription already ordered, yes!), and I love how if you are _thoughtful_ with your decorating, you can make some lovely gift bags with this concept!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Travelling Felt Pouch for my Embroidery Hoop

After making a needlebook for Handstitched class, I decided I'd try drafting a pouch that could carry an embroidery hoop, scissors, and a smaller sized needlebook inside of it.

This isn't exactly a tutorial, that would be too much organizational effort for my brain to document what I did (and I'm sure lots of people have done the same thing only better) I decided to make a pouch to fit my 4" hoop.

Tracing the pouch shape
I outlined two pieces of wool felt for the hoop pouch, tracing around the bottom half , then straight up to make a U shape for the top, adding a 1/2" seam allowance around the sides.  For the back piece, I added a flap so I could fold it over and button it closed.

Really I don't know that a pouch like this would need a closure at all, unless you use your purse as a weapon and violently swing it around hitting people on a regular basis.  This is pretty snug, and as the felt isn't exactly slippery, I find it very unlikely my hoop would slide out and get tangled in other stuff.

Traced inside hoop for needlebook
 You can sew a small piece of elastic to one of the pouch pieces before assembly if you like, to slide in and secure a pair of small scissors before you put your hoop in.  I didn't do this as I feel it's secure enough to tuck them inside the hoop, but if I make a different sized one I will probably try this.

For the  needlebook, I traced two pieces of felt using the inside of the hoop as a template.  Don't make the mistake I did and put the chalked side facing out! Luckily I only did it on one side, and the chalk is wearing off slowly.

So at this point it gets foggy, I used a blanket stitch to sew the pouch together, as well as to secure the linings for the pouch and the needlebook.  For the lining I used Valori Wells Wrenly Rosette in Violet.

I did a reverse applique wonky star for the pouch, as I'm on a wonky star kick, and a circle for the needlebook.

I'm pretty sure there were lots of better ways to assemble the needlebook, but it was getting late and I was getting tired, which means I was getting careless!

The needlebook can hold quite a few thread bobbins for floss and still fit easily into the hoop for storage.

I don't remember getting it,  but somewhere along the way I managed to become the owner of a single sad kitty button.  Luckily it matched the felt color well enough. 

Well back to working on my current quilt I guess!

Put the needlebook in the hoop then wrap the embroidery around it

Slide the entire package into the pouch and voila!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Spiced Peach "Jam"

My mom canned quite a bit during a couple of summers when I was young.  We had a pear tree and there were rows and rows of white red and green tinted quart jars full of vanilla, mint and cinnamon pears along the shelves.  Sensible or not to be eating home canned goods so far down the road - as the the seals held we had the last jars almost 15 years after they were canned, and they were as good as ever.

I've been meaning to try my hand at canning since I was a teenager (which is currently like a really really long time ago).  I keep hoping to grow enough produce of my own to can, but our yard is very shady and the weather's been bad the last couple of years - even with new raised beds not much wants to grow - not even zucchini!   Since I could be waiting forever for a "need" to can, I decided to get around to it the way I do most things - which is to get the "props" first.  A canning book for Christmas, then jars a few weeks ago. (side note, that list should've included jar lifting tongs, I don't recommend canning without them unless you like splashing yourself with boiling water!!)

Add caption
Last week we were at Trader Joe's and my husband pointed to a 3 lb box of peaches and suggested I get them so I could actually, you know, make some jam.  It wasn't until the next day that I remembered I don't like peach jam - well I've never had it, so I assumed I don't like it.   I love canned peaches but I dislike fresh ones, I'm a devoted nectarine girl.

Since I found myself in possession of a box of peaches anyway, I went ahead and did it.  I made the Sure Jell recipe (mostly).  It called for 5.5 cups of sugar to 4 cups of fruit (!!!) but I added another 1.5 cups of chopped peaches.  1 tsp ginger, 1/2 tsp cloves, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, an extra tablespoon of lemon juice, and a bit of rum extract.

Ziki wasted no time claiming the empty box
Apparently in lots of fruit jam, especially peach, the fruit floats up to the top, and it can take up to a week to set.  I'd been flipping it over now and again to help disperse it.  However I can quit that since my jam did NOT set up.  From reading around it looks like you should cook the fruit for awhile to let it's natural pectins release before adding additional pectin, but since the directions just said bring to a boil then add pectin, that's what I did.  Nevertheless I've ended up with 4 pint jars of a nice thick spiced peach sauce which will be great on ice cream and French toast.

I'm almost caught up with the Handstitched Class quilt (well...to the last lessons stuff at least!) but I needed a break from intensive stitching so I thought I'd do a nice quick fun embroidery project so I could regroup.

 Mollie from Wild Olive was nice enough to make a download of cute stuff available on the day of her blog's 8 year anniversary which I managed to grab (and her stuff is just so cute!!) so I cobbled together two of the images to make some commemorative jam art.   Maybe I should make a second one that says syrup. ;(

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Patchwork Ribbon, Pincushions & Gaming Conventions

First off, I think Zakka Style's patchwork ribbon is a fun idea.  This example of it isn't so much (I don't have a ton of scraps yet) but I'll definitely be getting some Christmas fabric of some sort to make holiday ribbon, and probably save romanticky pinks reds and white scraps to make ribbon for Valentine's & birthday gifts for my husband.

There's not much else to say about this, I opted to use 2" strips, I had enough scraps to make 9 totally mismatching feet of it.

I've found that I need a dozen pincushions.  Or I should say there's not a single place in my house I haven't found myself needing one.  Since I've found myself walking around for hours with a few pins secured through a sleeve until I remember to put them where they belong, I figured it's safer to just make more pincushions!  I just embroidered a scrap of fabric with a design from Doodle Stitching - The Motif Collection and stuffed it with Poly-Fil.

Oh gaming conventions - my husband works for a game company and was gone most of last week to San Diego Comic-Con.  I've gone a couple of times but wasn't up for the crowds and entertaining myself while he worked this year.
The alone time was great for me because I had lots of sewing time!  I look forward to when he gets home but it's always a mixed bag because he comes armed with "gifts".  This time he got me a Deviled Hanimal and a drawing of a cat sitting in a litter box.  Among the things he got for himself are a Cthulhu snowglobe which will be heading directly to his man-room, and a print of all the Dr Who doctors as cats.   Oh men!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Coaster of the Month - July

I was working on an applique mug rug for this month's coaster, but then while looking for chair cushion patterns I saw a zig zag and had to drop everything to go make a zig zag mug rug. 

I'm pretty sure I need to take my machine in for a tune up - my bobbins aren't winding well & I'm having a devil of a time keeping my tension even (though really that's been an issue for some fabrics since I bought it). 

I need to work on spacing, but it's a lot better than last month's coaster, so I can't not be happy!  I still need a LOT of work on binding corners, but at least 2 of them are squarish?  I know there are better ways to deal with the end of the binding too, good thing I have the internet to look things up.

I used bits of fabric from Lucy's Crab Shack, Pezzy Prints & Serenade charm packs with some Kona Solids and Rowan shot cotton in Tangerine.

The next project I'm noodling on between other things is a quilt based around Piccadilly Circle's "Main Floral in Pink"that I got from Intrepid Thread.

I ordered some Kona solids to coordinate with it, and now I'm looking for the perfect pattern.  Pretty sure I should do it the other way around next time, but it just yelled SUMMER to me so I figured...hmm, no I didn't think beyond the yelling, fabric yells and I obey :(  Usually I have so much common sense too!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Handstiched Class - Paper Piecing Progress

PHEW So this is an intensive part of the Stitched In Color Handstitched class. I am still working on the embroidery from the last class, and working hard on the paper piecing from the current one.  I didn't expect my fingers to be as full of holes! I'm starting to think this is more dangerous than working in a kitchen ever was ;) This quilt is going to be hundreds of hours of work by the time I'm done, but the good thing is that people can choose to leave out some of the details and things that make it so time consuming if they chose.

All basted and ready to join the party
I was nervous about trying paper piecing, it took a bit to get the hang of it, and I kinda failed to watch the video tutorials all the way through, which might explain that.  Turns out it's kind of fun, and even soothing, however it's pretty tiring on my fingers

I stayed up until 3 am Wednesday night basting all the pieces I hadn't done yet.  Now I'm doing shorter stretches, and I want to take a short break to work on another project, rest my brain and my teeny little finger muscles.

Clipped so I can whipstich them together
After seeing hair clips being used to hold binding onto things, I thought I should try them out for this paper piecing, as holding the pieces together can be a bit difficult and slippery.  My triceps are sore from all the sewing and holding too!  Once I started using the clips I've been finding it easier and quicker to sew.

As you can see at the top, I finished one of my Storm At Sea Blocks - I needed some incentive to get rolling on the rest of it.  If I'd been using a clip then, maybe my hexagon wouldn't be askew!

My husband is out of town until Monday, so I am hoping to catch up on all my class work.  I'm also keeping busy in the kitchen, ordinarily I'd be hoping to make more use of fish and veggies, but instead I managed to put together homemade potstickers. He'll be really envious he's not here, but I'll freeze some for him, cause I'm sweet like that! 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Stash Happy Patchwork - Fabric Bowl

There's a tutorial for a set of fabric nesting bowls in Stash Happy Patchwork, by Cynthia Shaffer.  The book has 25 fun projects, including a cool quilted bento box holder my husband refused to let me make for him. :*(

The design and template in the book are for bowls with wavy tops, but I altered it so it would be smooth"ish" and round instead.

This is the largest bowl, it's about 4.25" in diameter.  I was tempted to make larger ones, but I think they'd have to be reinforced quite a bit, all that's holding the petals together is the zigzag stitching.

side pieces zigzagged to the base
I'm considering this a practice bowl, hopefully the next one will have some of the kinks worked out.

My zigzag stitch was set at 3.5mm width and I think next time I'll move it up to 4mm, it was a bit tricky to get the sides evenly caught up in the stitches.

It might be fun to baste the petals and use a herringbone stitch to embroider them instead, it'd be attractive and maybe even sturdier.

I didn't use spray adhesive to adhere the two layers together as suggested, instead I quilted the bottom together & stitched around the sides of the petals before putting it together.  I don't like how the additional stitching looks visually, a basting stitch could be used instead and taken out after the bowl's assembled.

I forgot to take a picture of the bowl after the sides were sewn together but before I started working on attaching the binding.

The binding was sewn on as I did for the potholders I just made for the Zakka Style sew along (well except for the clips, and the orderly neatness), the tutorial is found here at retro mama.  This method works extra well for rounded items I think, it folds over snuggly and curls the edges in a bit when you flip it over to the outside.

I ironed the binding's edge under 1/4" for a finished edge on the outside when it got flipped to the outside.  I didn't bother doing a good job with the binding, I'd already realized this was a tester bowl so didn't take as much care with it.

 Fabrics: For the petals I used (I think) Pat Bravo's Pure Elements for solids & Frida's Dream in cool & bright (Art Gallery's Rhapsodia collection).   I used Flea Market Fancy's Eyelet in green for the bottom, and Kona in Olive for the binding.

It may have taken as much as 90 minutes to do this, I did it over a couple of days so I didn't really keep track.  Tip - ironing the fabric to freezer paper first made cutting out the petals a breeze!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Finished - Pezzy Print Quilt

I finished my Pezzy Print Quilt over the weekend.  The final measurements are 40" by 50"

Although I used mostly Kona cotton for the solids, I made the mistake of using some less expensive solids for a few colors, Joann's was having a sale so since I only needed a bit, I went ahead and got them.  They shrunk up with a hot iron, and that's the last time I roll the dice like that!

I used Kona snow for the sashing and back, and some of the squares left from cutting out the prints for a strip along  the back.  Next time I really have to use painter's tape to tape down the back when I'm putting the quilt together, it seemed like it was all squared up but alas,it ended up being a bit off kilter.

I've realized for smaller quilts I can just pin them up to my cat kennel for pictures. (Our indoor cats get stir crazy in warm weather, so we bought an 8' by 8' kennel so they can take turns lounging on the cement and eating grass with plenty of room to roam.)

    Friday, July 6, 2012

    Zakka Style Sew Along water bottle holder & Strawberry Thyme Ice Cream

    Water bottle applique

    Last night I finished my Zakka Style water bottle holder for the sew along.  It was a bit confusing to follow the written directions and I'm not actually sure if it ended up the way it was supposed to, but I did learn a new skill along the way at least.

     I'm not entirely sure how sturdy it's going to end up being long term,  it's probably going to be fine but I like to worry!  If I make another one I think I'll put some batting in between the bottom layers and quilt it in so it has a more stable base to sit on.

    For the applique and short strap I used Valori Wells cocoon in sapphire cashmere, and for the upper body of the holder and the long strap I used Rhapsodia Frida's dream in cool. (Really I never know if I'm getting the names arranged right!)

    I am really happy to use Art Gallery's Rhapsodia fabrics any chance I get, too bad I used such a giant applique to cover it. My solid is - well I'm not sure, but it's blue!

    My button jar isn't exactly overflowing, and I didn't have any buttons at hand that matched, I'll have to be on the lookout for replacements soon so it's a bit prettier.

    sorrowful misuse of lovely ice cream
    I did use my ice cream maker for the 4th.  I read a few strawberry ice cream recipes  and then winged my own mash-up, and was finally able to find a use for some of the lemon thyme in my herb garden.  It's tasty but I really think that next time I'll follow somebody elses recipe for once!

    There was too much ice cream for one container, so I divided it in two - my husband had some leftover Nerd candy, and some Candy Brain Juice (sour apple liquid the color of gore) and wanted to add it, so I was VERY glad to be able to divide the batch.

     I am perfectly pleased with my Strawberry Thyme ice cream staying au naturel, TYVM!

    I admit, the brain liquid did add a pretty color!

    Wednesday, July 4, 2012

    Handstitched Class - Progress on the Modern Medallion

    Ahhh, it's exciting yet terrifying when you deviate from a pattern.  You might end up with an amazing unique end product, or you might end up spending an hour tearing out stitches.  I'm not quite sure where I am with this one - my plan was to incorporate some additional embroidery designs into it, that led to the "Moroccanish" feeling I'm aiming for with this quilt. Thinking though that it would've been accomplished anyway the way it was designed.

    The pearl cotton to the left I got from purlsoho.com (except the bottom left green which came with my student kit).  Although it didn't strike me so at the time, the dark orange and lighter yellow seem nearly glow in the dark, especially when I'm working on the quilt at night.  It's a wee bit scary!

    extra detail
    The black floss I'm using for for some of the embroidery really stands out too darkly - maroon or brown might work better.  I may redo it if I find it's bothering me, but I'll wait and see how it looks with the other elements down the road.

    I got the Indian Spice Hand Embroidery Pattern from September House.  I am hoping I might have the chance to use more of it in different areas of the quilt, but I'll have to wait to see what Rachel has for us next week.

    My strip for embroidery ended up about 3/8" short, so I partitioned  it differently than the plan. I think with the rectangular bits in the middle it becomes more distracting.  I might retry one of them diagonally instead.

    I'd expected to zip along this embroidery since the first week of projects was relatively quick, but now I know better.  I haven't managed to get started on any other projects in the class yet. I'm not even half done with this part yet!

    Pilot FriXion
    I want to say that I'm in love with my Pilot FriXion Ballpoint pen.   I drew on one of my jewels off center, and a touch of the iron and I had a blank slate to redraw it.   It doesn't rub off, it's a nice fine line, and I can easily change my mind about where I place something.  One thing people have found is  that if you put fabric in the freezer the pen mark comes back - maybe a concern if you live in Alaska or are a perfectionist.  I'm not sure I'd want to live without it now that I have one.

    Happy Independence Day to all!  I'm dragging out the ice cream maker and lighting the BBQ!

    Monday, July 2, 2012

    Modern Fabric Studios Order & Review

     I was the lucky winner of a $30 gift certificate to Modern Fabric Studio through a giveaway at Mesewcrazy.com.  They happened to be having an amazing sale so I used that to give me an excuse to do some extra shopping.  I like Modern Fabric Studio - their default cut is half yards so I chose mainly half yards and managed to get smaller cuts of a LOT of things.

    I was really impressed with just how good the sale prices were, so I was excited to be able to go a bit crazy.  The regular prices are competitive too, but a lot of the pieces I got ended up being under $3 for half a yard.

    Their website is easy to browse, and I love the different sorting options, especially the color one.  I ended up getting fabrics mainly from Anna Maria Horner, Tina Givens, Valori Wells and Joel Dewberry.

     Their shipping rates are an extremely reasonable $5 in the US for up to FORTY YARDS of fabric.  I love that they saved my order information so I can log in and see what I've ordered.  The only odd glitch is that my order was still listed as pending though I received it 4-5 business days later.  Of course that just made it better when it showed up because I thought it hadn't been cut yet!

    My order showed up in a flat rate shipping box filled to the brim with fabric, a tight fit but nothing was crumpled as you can see.  I'll also mention that the shipping was $10.85 so I feel guilty that they only charged $5! Sigh, it was like Christmas, but better because I didn't have to cook anything.

    yellows and orange

    So yes, serious gluttony.  On the bright side I now feel I can call my pile of a quilting fabric an official stash now!