Monday, June 29, 2015

Luxurious weekend sewing

Oh my, it felt good to sit down at my sewing machine this weekend! I haven't had much sewing time as of late, with work being so busy and crazy preparing for QuiltCon registration, but this weekend, I finally carved out some sewing time to just sew. For fun. Just because!! It felt so, so nice!

I've been coveting all the fun Trail Tote bags that I've seen popping up on social media as of late, so I decided to make myself one - and one for my mom! I ordered the supplies a week or two ago when I decided I might just want to make one, and I grabbed a few fabrics from my stash on Saturday and hopped right to it.

Two Trail Totes! photo IMG_4355rt_zpsgzfkclhl.jpg

It was nice to see that I can actually follow directions once in a while! Bag making is always a challenge for me but this one came together quite nicely. I skipped over the piping - too many flashbacks to making and installing loads of evil piping on my Weekender! - but did everything else just as directed. Well, except that I apparently ordered circular O rings instead of rectangular ones, but I decided to just for it and keep on trucking anyway. Naturally, the biggest challenge was installing the recessed zipper, and while it's not the most professional looking zipper installation in the world, I can live with it.

X Plus blocks photo IMG_4349_zpsgexwxxom.jpg

I also started a new quilt project, which is so addictive it's entirely possible that I might just finish it this week. I've made a few X Plus blocks for bees, but never one for myself, and wow, they are fun to make! And so fast! I dug into my scrap bins to make these blocks, and am having so much fun with it. Goodness, it feels good to sew again! Happy Monday to you all :)

X Plus Progress! photo IMG_4352rt_zpsljmeprku.jpg
Monday, June 22, 2015

A little swap with some of my favorite fabrics!

I wrapped up my project for the super fun Cotton + Steel Mini Swap that's been running on Instagram  (#cottonandsteelminiquiltswap) over the last few months this weekend. It should land on my partner's doorstep today, and I'm excited to see what she'll think! It's my first swap in ages - since the days of Flickr swaps, I think! Made me think about all of the fun swaps I've participated in and the amazing things that I've received from people. Swaps like these are one of the reasons I really love the quilting community - the way people get excited to sign up to make something wonderful for someone they don't necessarily even know. It's that kind of amazing giving spirit that I really appreciate in our community :)

C+S Swap Mini - Detail photo IMG_4303 2RT_zpsadytbpsk.jpg

For my partner, I waffled. A lot. The last couple of months have been super crazy and I spent a lot of time thinking about what to make for my partner, and what fabrics to use, and not committing. I even created a little mosaic of several of my design ideas (and there were more!) and shared it on Instagram, hoping to garner a response from my partner. The feedback helped, and ultimately led me down the path I ultimately chose, which was a mini medallion quilt.

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I pulled together some great Cotton + Steel prints, primarily from the basics line and from Melody Miller's collections, in aqua, gold, true blue, green, and mint, with pops of pink and coral. All nine blocks in the mini are paper pieced, including the Star Crossed block in the center. My original Star Crossed block tutorial results in a 10" finished block and I wanted a 12" block without having to use crazy math (like 1/8's of an inch, which I despise!), so I created some simple paper piecing templates and went to it. I will be sharing those templates and the cutting information to go along with them later this summer.

C+S Swap Mini - Done! photo IMG_4302 3RT_zpssb8ux4po.jpg

Swirling around the Star Crossed block is a new paper pieced block, which I'm calling the Twirl block. This is another forthcoming tutorial that will be out in late July. It's a fairly straight-forward block to assemble, but based on which colors you opt to put where in the block, you can come up with a lot of different looks and repeats with the block, so it' s a lot of fun.

Look, I even remembered a label! photo IMG_4285RT_zpsixydsdjm.jpg

For the quilting, I kept things pretty simple - using my favorite mint shade of Aurifil, #2835. A simple stipple on the center block, and some nice straight line quilting around the perimeter. I was tempted to stick with white thread, as I so often do, but I'm glad I went with the the mint, it really blends nicely.

Partner, this little mini and some other goodies for you should be arriving today, so I can't wait to hear what you think! I also can't wait to sit down and do some more sewing soon, I've got a Trail Tote on the brain that I can't shake, so I think a bag is in my near future :) Happy Monday everyone!
Monday, May 11, 2015

Weekend Stitches

I hope all of you moms had a great Mother's Day weekend! I spent most of the weekend cross-stitching, completely randomly, thanks to a fun little Harry Potter cross-stitch pattern I stumbled upon on Pinterest last week. It's funny, hand-stitching projects always seem to be an obsession like this for me - a fast and furious rabbit hole of sorts, where I spend all my free time stitching until I get to the end of the project.

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And this little cross-stitch project was no different - I spent much of my day Saturday and Sunday stitching away with this little project, and smiling. It's funny, I so often detest hand-stitching binding on a quilt, but put a cute little cross-stitch or embroidery project in front of me, and I sing a completely different tune altogether.

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So I managed to start and finish this little project in the span of two days, which was a great feeling. It felt so good to sew something just because I wanted to, not because a deadline was looming or anything. I'd started to forget how that felt, so it was a great present to myself this weekend. Something tells me I might do a little more hand-stitching in the future - I've had my eye on this embroidered alphabet sampler ever since Jess sewed one up a few years ago. It might be just the right project for the snippets of free time I'll likely have over the next month or two as we march ever closer to pre-registration for MQG members for QuiltCon in June! Happy Monday everyone :)

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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Mini Medallion Quilt in Love Patchwork & Quilting

Good morning! I just got the new issue of Love Patchwork & Quilting in the mail, along with a fun little mini that I wrote up a pattern for in this issue, the Mini Medallion. It's the sixth and final in my Mini Quilt series that I've been working on with the lovely folks at Love Patchwork & Quilting, and it might just be my favorite of the bunch...

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This little mini is comprised of some of my favorite Cotton + Steel prints, ranging from the Basics lines to Mustang to Playful, plus a little dash of one of my favorite Rashida Coleman-Hale collections, Koi, which plays all kinds of perfectly with Cotton + Steel! There are three main block repeats used in the pattern, the main star block in the center, with small pluses and x's surrounding it. It's a very simple little quilt to put together, and great for using up the last scraps of some of your favorite fabrics!

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The X and Plus blocks that surround the center star were quite literally inspired by my love for the X and + block, which is still one of those blocks that's on my To Do list. I had wanted to try to do a mini version of those blocks as the border for this mini, but decided that in the small size that they would be just too busy and that I needed something more simple for a small block.

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There's loads of other beautiful quilts in this issue as well, as with all of their issues! Love Patchwork & Quilting really is one of my favorite quilting magazines these days. If you haven't checked it out before, do yourself a favor and stop at your local Barnes & Noble or Books a Million and get a coffee and sit down with an issue. You'll enjoy it, I promise :)

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Monday, April 27, 2015

3 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Stashing....

If you've followed my blog for any length of time, then you know that I jumped into quilting without a whole lot of forethought or knowledge. I'm that kind of person most of the time in life, so it's not terribly surprising, but there's a few stash-building things that I wish I could go back in time and tell New-Quilter-Me that I thought I'd share with you guys, in case some of you are new to quilting, or for those of you who are seasoned pros, it might give you a good laugh :)

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1. Don't buy that fabric just because it's on sale.

Just because it's a good deal, doesn't mean it's a great fabric. Doesn't mean you need 8 yards of it, doesn't mean you should even buy a half-yard of it! Only buy what you love, even if it's not on sale. Fabric you love will get used. Fabric you bought on sale because it was a good deal will wind up still in your stash years later when you move and you'll be embarrassed/horrified/baffled you even own it.

Randoms photo IMG_1657rt_zpsdwb7uep9.jpg

2. Don't buy fabric just because it's the "cool" fabric at the moment.

The only tastemaker in your sewing room is you. Much like other areas of sewing, beauty is in the eye of the beholder with your stash. If it's a fabric you're passionate about and love, you will find the right project for it. If it's the "hot" fabric of the moment and you feel like you're supposed to buy it, chances are it's going to land in the destash or donate pile at some point in your sewing life.

3. Variety is the spice of life - and stashing!

Variety is important in a lot of different ways when it comes to stashing, but most especially it's important when it comes to value, themes, and in some ways scale. Value is the relative lightness or darkness of a fabric, and is often easiest to see in a photograph when the color is removed, and the photograph becomes simply black and white. It's important to have fabrics of different values, as it's one of the easiest ways to create contrast in your quilt blocks. Themes are important too. Unless you have an unhealthy addiction to polka dots and want to make all polka dot fabric quilts, you want to have a variety of themes or styles in your fabric stash. That might mean some stripes, some florals, some text fabrics, whatever - just a variety. As for scale, that's somewhat subjective. Take my stash, for example. I'd wager to guess at least 75% of my fabrics are small scale, meaning the print is quite small. Small scale prints are great for quilt blocks, because even in small quilt blocks, you don't "lose" the print. Often with larger scale fabrics, if you chop them up into pieces to make a block, you "lose" the print. So with scale, some variety is good, but it's nowhere near as necessary as with theme/style and value.

Too much blue? photo IMG_1653rt_zpsetkleyfz.jpg

Bonus: Enjoy the rainbow...not just one color!

Make sure to share the love as you're stashing - don't just buy eleventy million blue fabrics. Because you will never sew through all of them. Never.

What do you wish you could go back in time to tell New-Quilter-You? Or what do you like to tell your friends who are new to quilting? Happy Monday everyone :)

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Welcome! I'm Elizabeth, mom to a very busy six year old boy and I sew for my sanity. Let's get to quilting, shall we?
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