Friday, November 30, 2012

Quilter's Shirtless Man and Spicy Burrito 2013 Calendar

I was procrastinating getting a calendar like I always do, but finally ordered one yesterday.  This summer I stumbled across a calendar that Megan at The Bitchy Stitcher put together in 2012 to raise funds to help her brother's family with some medical bills accrued from her brother fighting brain cancer.   So the reason this is in existence is sad and touching, and the calendar itself is silly and awesome. She put together another one for 2013, many quilters were kind enough to send in pictures of the men in their lives posing shirtless with quilts and burritos (that's right, take a good look at your husband, could he be the next Mr. October?).  I can't think of a better choice for keeping track of sew and quilt alongs!  I like quilts, I like men, and I am rather partial to burritos (though not on the spicy side).

My purchase was through her link to, but I see that also carries it, which means there's probably some other fabric stores to buy it from too.  Gives you an excuse to buy some fabric while you're at it. Anyway, I can't wait to get my copy,  and if you have a quilter on your Christmas list and need a last minute gift, I'm not sure you can go wrong with this!

note: My husband and I use different calendars, so he wont be forced to stare at bare chests all day.  Although now that I think about it, it would be pretty funny for him to have to look up his dentist appointments on this ;)

Monday, November 26, 2012

Color Wheel Paper Piecing

I made this color wheel several months ago, but as I didn't starch the devil out of it before I removed the paper, it didn't stay perfectly round so it had been sitting on my design wall just staring at me.

After getting to work on my paper piecing Star Blossom project from the Handstitched class Rachel from Stitched in Color put on earlier this year, I figured I should suck it up and figure out how to deal with it since I had to stretch the star blossom onto canvas anyway, and had bought canvases for both projects.

I Managed to get it mostly round on the inside & outside.  I pinned it to an 18" square piece of Kona (in Bone).  My q-snap frame wasn't holding it stretched evenly (fabric was too thin so wasn't being gripped firmly on all 4 sides), so there was a bit of distortion when I sewed it on.  I used DMC pearl cotton in size 8 to stitch it on.  Now that I think about it further, putting batting scraps for thickness where the fabric is held onto the frame to give it thickness would've probably fixed that problem.

 I used a teeny bit of 505 spray basting between the fabric and the canvas to secure it in place while I stretched and tacked it onto a 12" square frame.  It was actually pretty easy to do that, and I'm glad I got down to business!

For the color wheel itself, I just traced a dinner plate, then traced a bowl inside of it off center inside that circle and divided it (mostly) evenly into 12 sections.  Had a bit of trouble choosing something for the green-blue fabric, as I didn't really have any and couldn't find a good one while browsing either.  I'm finding improve paper piecing rather fun, so I've already cut out a star pattern to work with next.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Insulated Hexagon Hot Pads

I thought I'd make insulated trivets for Christmas gifts and myself.  I needed one because I've been using a sample square of carpet tile to rest my french press on when I make coffee  for the last year :|

I'd used the hexagon coaster tutorial from Canoe Ridge Creations from the Festival of Hexagons series a few months ago and thought the basics of it would lend itself well to this project too.

For the center I just enlarged a single hexagon in a word document until it was 2.5" per side, and  5.25" across at its widest point before printing it out (I couldn't get the custom templates at to work that day).  I cut 2.5" by 6" strips of coordinating fabrics , and one layer of Insulated batting and one layer of cotton batting for each  hot pad.

The two for gifts I decided to bind & made 2" binding out of Kona solids. It was interesting working with the hexagon corners, they're a bit more tricky square corners, & the second one went better than the first. These ones just all got sandwiched together before sewing.

The funky blue and orange one is for me (never pictured combining those two colors for one item) and I just sewed it together with right sides facing each other, leaving most of one side open,  turned it right side out, pressed it, then stuffed it with the two layers of batting (trimmed down to fit).  It was bit of a challenge to get all the corners to get lined up exactly, if I tried it again I'd probably baste the batting layers together before attempting that.

They're about 8" across, and big enough for potholders.  I just used mine for the first time and managed to dribble chai all over it as I was straining the ginger and cinnamon out - serves me right for making chai from scratch I guess!

I don't mind if I do!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

"Reusable" Fabric Gift Tags

Since my mother in law gifted me with some holiday fabrics when we visited Vermont, I figured I should make some gift bags.  One fabric seemed a good print to lend itself to make the "ribbon" for a couple of "wrapped present" look bags, after being inspired by the block Katie @ Swim, Bike, Quilt did for the Christmas in July Block-a-thon. I started thinking about how to label the gifts - stickers wont stick to them, so I figured fabric tags would be the way to go.

I thought about embroidering them with names but that would take forever, and I wanted them to be reusable.  I decided to go ahead and to use a Pilot FriXion pen to write names on them, that way if the recipient wants to reuse it, all it requires is 2 seconds of a hot iron and voila! Blank again.

So this doesn't really requires a "tutorial" (and I'm sure there are lots of tutorials out there for stuff like this anyway) but I'm practicing my technical writing skills!  These are the steps I took.
1. Cut out two pieces of fabric the same size, of the desired shape and size you want your label to be.

2. Sew on a bit of lighter colored cotton fabric wherever you like on the tag (you can also do this step after it's sewn together if you dont mind the stitches sewing through on the back).  I used a zig zag stitch on most of the tags, but since I these don't need to be super durable, a straight line stitch is fine in my book.

3. With right sides of fabric facing each other, sew around the edges with a 1/4" seam allowance backstitching a couple stitches at the beginning and end.  Leave an inch opening (easiest to leave the opening in the middle of a side instead of in a corner, makes closing it look neater).

4. Turn tag right side out, I use a dulled wood skewer to poke the corners out.  Make sure the edges of the opening are tucked inside and press the tag with a hot iron.

Don't forget to use a Shout color catcher to avoid pink :|
5. Sew the 1" opening closed.  You can hand stitched it closed, machine stitch just the area of the opening (not bad if your thread matches closely) or sew around the entire tag with the machine. If I work on some nicer looking ones I will probably hand stitch around them with perle cotton or embroidery thread.

6. Write on whatever name or term of endearment you want with a heat removable pen. (I know there are other brands out there too.)

7.  Attach to present.  I strung lengths of perle cotton thread through the tops of my gift tags with a needle.  In the picture above, I sewed the thread directly into the tag as I made it.  I may also make some gift bags with fabric loops sewn into the seams for me to tie the tags onto.

And that's that!  Now I am sure you can do better this, I was very sloppy in my assembly! Christmas and the whole gift thing is not my favorite pastime, but I do admit I'm having fun with this year's crafty aspect to it ;)

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Long Weekender Sew Along Tula Pink Bag Finished

Well that's a mouthful.

My dual purpose sew along bag is finished, just under the deadline for the Tula Pink Sew Along, and ahead of schedule for the Long Weekend blog hop.

All the prints are Tula Pink, it has a few bits of solids for the patchwork. Kona in Bone for the piping
Kona in Crocus for the straps (which match the bag better in person than they seem to in photos)
A sturdy beige suiting fabric for the bottom.
I used Parisville's Sea of Tears in Dusk for the majority of the outside, a patchwork of Parisville & Birds and the Bees on one side.
For the lining, Bees Knees in Sunset which is too pretty to hide, but I did it anyway.  Lots of  Cameo in Sprout too as it's the first Tula Pink fabric I ever fell for, long before I ever had an idea that I would ditch garment sewing for quilts and crafty projects.

I'm going to just be upfront and gripe about the Weekender Bag pattern .  Its page on the website doesn't have a link to any corrections, so if I hadn't been doing this as part of a sew along I wouldn't have even known the were any.  What I like less is that if you find the corrections, you print out SIX pages of errata and then are supposed to use them to make changes to your pattern directions, crossing stuff out, re-labeling things, writing in the margins - which I find less than awesome.  I didn't because with my messy writing I wouldn't have been able to read a thing it said, so I had to go back and forth between the pattern and the printouts. With that many corrections I feel I should be able to print out an entire set of correct steps.

Amy Butler is awesome, and she generously offers free patterns too,  but I'm a bit reluctant to purchase any other patterns anytime soon, as besides the errata issue, I didn't find the directions super easy to follow (though more talented sewists have said they were fine - I am certainly not even classified as an intermediate quilter yet I imagine), partially because they weren't formatted in the most user friendly layout visually (for me at least), and partially because it felt like they jumped all over the place instead of moving through a natural flow for prep & assembly.  Nevertheless now that I've gone through the trouble to make this I'll probably make another as the end results are pleasing.

Ok, now that I've vented - I did patchwork for one side (not quilt as you go, just made quilt blocks to size). I used batting and some thicker myterious utility fabric to reinforce the sides and large pockets, and just used the Peltex for the bottom and the side pockets.

I made my handle length 48".  My Joann's didn't have either of the suggested zippers so I got a 30" dual separating parka zipper so I could open it from either side. I'd never inserted a zipper like the directions have you do  and it was really fun for some reason. I put an extra pocket inside one of the large outer pockets too.


Making piping worried me because a piping foot isn't available for my machine, but it was easy to do with fusible tape.  I made it stop at ground level, as I didn't plan on putting feet on this bag & this way it won't be touching the ground and getting dirty.

Speaking of feet - with all the layers together, the only foot that could accommodate the height with the piping and get close enough to it was my blind hem foot, and I managed to break that pretty quickly.  That's actually two feet I've abused in the last month, maybe I better get some back ups just in case... Ont he bright side I didn't break a single needle!

I'd planned to add a zippered pocket inside but decided not to, figuring its an excuse to make more pouches to throw inside instead.

I mistakenly fused the interfacing to the lining fabric and not the outer fabric and didn't have extra, so it's not as firm as it would be otherwise, and there is some slack in the lining (I saw others say they had that issue too).  Truth is the lining directions was the one section where I have no clue what they are telling me to do without some visuals present to follow. 

When I first tried to read through them I'd been working on the bag for 8 hours straight so feeling fuzzy, but I just reread them now and they still make my head hurt.  I get the idea that they tell me how to take up the slack fabric, but I will deal with that if I find it bothersome after using it.

And I too, like so many others, bled.  Bled and swore.  Swore and bled.  Actually got the sewing machine needle in my index finger a bit once. Grabbed the wrong end of more pins that I could count too.  My hands will heal in a couple days though, and even though I wasn't so sure about the bag in general or the fabric choices in particular I am happy with it.  I like that if I'm feeling subdued I can show the muted side to the world, and if I'm feeling a bit more outgoing I can put the noisy patchwork side out.  Now I'm just impatiently waiting for an excuse to use it!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Laundry Hamper Finish

I happen to have be the handy one in my household - I think the hubby was too busy having fun growing up to learn any of his Dad's useful skills, but luckily I have motivation since I always live in houses that need work.  On top of that luckily these days you can find anything on the internet these days if you need help along the way.

However, carpentry is one area where I sadly lack.  Even though I have the tools I need, I always seem to be a wee bit off in my measurements when I cut anything made of wood.  Nevertheless when I saw this tutorial for a laundry hamper at Ikatbag earlier this year, I just knew I had to make one.  Combining handy with crafty?  Yes please!

I figured it should be simple enough, but when I started this project, the Summersville collection had JUST come out (ya, that was April?) and I'd excitedly gotten some of the Brush Strokes in seafoam to make this with, so obviously it's taken me quite awhile to work out the kinks. I just do not seem to be able to remember to read the directions, I keep improvising for some reason.

With the frame I had issues with everything being a bit off, including the holes for the dowels not dead on center.  When I finally got it all together, one leg was a 2 millimeters short and it took me far too long to sand things down so it stopped wobbling.  The bottom isn't "perfect" but isn't that the appeal of handmade goods? ;)

For the fabric part - Her notes specifically say that seam allowances aren't included, so luckily I didn't mess that part up, but I did sew together the bottom without inserting the straps in & since I'd single stitched it twice and run a zig zag stitch along the seams, that was quite the task to rip out enough to fix it.  Then my straps seemed longer than needed anyway.

I felt this fabric needed to be lined for this project since the back side wasn't finished looking like the print used in the tutorial , so I used some neutral Kona cotton and put the buttoning side on the interior instead of the exterior so the lining isn't exposed on the outside.  

Finally though I'm finished!.  It was tricky and time consuming for me, but the hamper is great, it probably would fit a 5 gallon bucket worth of laundry in it, can be adjusted to be taller and narrower or shorter and wider if needed for the space, and it folds up to be carried to the washer.  I'd just suggest if you make this, read the directions you know...right before you start (sane people do that I imagine?) and perhaps write out a separate sheet to coordinate the diagram and measurements of the pdf with the written directions on the web page to reference as you go.

This was a gift for a friend that moved into a new home...well I offered to make them this hamper when they first moved in so they didn't have to get a new laundry it's a super late housewarming gift, as they are certainly settled in by now!

I've been planning on making myself a giant cubby bookshelf for an easy to see display of my quilting fabric, but with my less than accurate cutting skills, I am a bit nervous about that now! I just need some time to go by so I forget how challenging it is.

I do recommend this if you are handy and like personalized stuff around the house - getting to choose the fabric you want for this, it makes me wish I had kids so I could make ones that matched their rooms. Hell, I'd even make a second one for myself if I had room for one!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Tula Pink Sew Along Quilt Finished

I've finished my quilt for the Tula Pink Sew Along at Sew Sweetness, yay!

May Chapell's Tula Pink Designer Star Quilt
I was lucky enough to win May Chapell's Designer Star Quilt Pattern from her blog a few months ago.  Actually she gave away a copy of her delicious pattern AND some Amy Butler fabric to make it with.  You think I might've used that fabric for the Long Weekender sew along if not this quilt, but no, I'm stubborn, and planning something else with it.

So, some teeny differences between my finished quilt and her pattern (besides the pretty quilting).  For solids I used Moda Bella in Butter and Mustard (ooh that makes me want a turkey sandwich...) leftover from my Totally Groovy Quilt.  Why not just go with one solid? Well because I didn't have enough of anything :D  Due to that I also had narrower borders around the quilt, and used my leftover Mustard to bind it.

All the prints are from Tula Pink's Parisville & Birds and the Bees collections.  My color layout didn't turn out how I imagined, the Cinnamon Meteor Shower is so much darker than the other prints, and although it's my favorite print in this, obviously I should've tried to match the borders.

Does it look weird?  I lost perspective, so I'm just assuming I love it.  I practiced different quilting patterns for just about every print, from basic stippling to straight lines to swirls.  I didn't open up Angela Walter's FMQ book until I finished with it, which is good because otherwise I would've gotten all serious about it and spent a few more days working on the quilting part! 

The pattern was easy to follow and it went together very quickly, which I think startled my husband who saw pieces up on the wall one day, a quilt top the next, and a totally finished quilt two days later.  I will probably make it again after making more deliberate print choices, as I really like the neutral border in May's versions.

For the back I went with another vintage-y sheet in matchy colors.  I think I will stick with that for most quilt backs, although I have some ideas for some fancier stuff, I have to admit the convenience of a non pieced back has its draws. 

I guess now it's off to work on the Weekender Travel Bag sew along!  Going to try to get it done in time for the Tula Pink deadline on the 12th.  Hopefully not finishing last minute since the 12th is my 8th wedding anniversary, and as wonderful as my husband is, I imagine even HE has his limits of tolerance ;)

Friday, November 2, 2012

Finished (?) Embroidery, Tula Pink, and Fridays for the Middle Aged

Tula Pink Sew Along in mid quilting

Ok, I'm not going to say I'm middle aged yet, since the women in my family live for an awesomely long time, but I'm pretty sure my Fridays used to be fun and exciting.  My husband has a work event tonight, which means after finishing FMQ my Quilt for the Tula Pink sew along, I took a luxurious bubble bath with a glass of red wine and Angela Walter's Free-Motion Quilting (really? no tawdry romance or zombie novel?), then crawled into home made PJs. 9:30 and I'm sleepy and ready for bed!

Mediocre version of Seed Pod
I just hung this 6" embroidery that I thought I'd finished, called Seed Pod from Katherine Shaughnessy's  New Crewel, The Motif collection  which is a pretty cool book, even though I'm supposed to be using wool something or other and not embroidery floss for it...

I'd traced it onto my fabric well before I started on it, and never went back and referenced the book until this moment.  Turns out those radiating bits from each circle are supposed to be in each pod, it should have another hundred french knots or so, etc etc.  I was considering going back and doing it properly, but I actually liked it before I realized my mistake, and I want to do a different colored one anyway, so I'll do that one right!

Anyway, I'm in the middle of hundreds of french knots for a negative space naughty word embroidery, so I'm not up to adding more knots at the moment!

I'm also doing a second Tula Pink item, since I didn't actually get many of my favorite fabrics into the quilt - uh, I'm not actually getting them into this other thing either for the most part, but that's OK, I'll hoard them for future projects. Anyway, I'm getting to combine two sew alongs in one which is my idea of awesome.

The Long Weekender Sew Along  is going on for Amy Butler's Weekender Travel Bag (seems to be a very challenging pattern, strength in numbers and all) which is supposed to be completed by November 18th, and since

 1. I've never made a bag
2. My local Pacific Fabrics carried the pattern
3. I'm a total sucker for quilt and sew alongs

I had to, you know?  There are a lot of cool patchwork weekender bags out there, and I am doing patchwork for the outer pocket on one side, but trying to stay semi cohesive for the rest of it, which is a challenge for me.  Now I just have to avoid all other sew alongs until I get stuff wrapped up and deal with Christmas and things will be good :)