Wednesday, August 31, 2011

WiP Wednesday #42

Thank you all for your well wishes last week on my munchkin's first day of school. After a full week of school, I am proud to say that he is absolutely in love with school.  And I am, too!  This morning, I'm planning a nice solo grocery shopping trip while he's at school...though it's kind of sad that going to the grocery store on my own is exciting...so here's how my projects are coming along...

Finished:
Nada :(

Going...and going...and going...
The Guy Quilt - Ta da!  A finished quilt top!  Yippee!!  Thank goodness the sun came out for a little while yesterday so I could get a good photo of this one.  I showed it to the munchkin and he fully approves.  We spent at least 30 minutes looking at all of the charms on this one, and he got more and more excited with the more characters he found.  He's picked out the backing fabric, now all I need to do is order it and find some binding!


The Guy Quilt - finished top!

Warm/Cool Quilt - My husband helped me baste this 90" square before he left for a business trip, but I haven't been able to tear myself away from my Weekender bag and the Guy Quilt to actually start quilting.  I'm hoping I might find some time to start it over the long holiday weekend...

warm/cool - all basted and ready to quilt!

FWQAL - Four more blocks done, bringing me to a nice round total of 30 so far.  Just 81 more to go!

FW Blocks 1-30

Weekender bag - This is coming right along, though I am waiting on my zipper to arrive.  Fortunately, it looks like it will be here today or tomorrow, so maybe the long holiday weekend might just end with a nice, finished bag for me, we'll see!

Weekender bag in progress

100 Quilts for Kids - After much deliberation, I finally decided on a bow-tie quilt, and naturally, once I decided on that, I couldn't wait to get started.  I've got all the fabric cut, and about a quarter of the blocks pieced so far.

Bowtie blocks in progress

Secret Quilt Project - Still waiting on a little bit of fabric to come in to wrap this one up, but it should be here any day now...

New this week:
do.Good.Stitches September blocks for the Bliss Circle - We are making string-pieced log cabin blocks.  Really.  Sounds tedious, but the end result is pretty cool, so stay tuned to hear about how this goes...

WiP Wednesday #42 Recap
Last week's total: 6
Finished this week: 0
New this week: 1
This week's total: 7

So what are you working on this week?  Come share it over at Freshly Pieced!
Tuesday, August 30, 2011

FWQAL Week #9: The one where I play catch up

Well, I didn't get a chance to share my Farmer's Wife blocks last week, so I've got four blocks to share with you this week.  This week's blocks were relatively simple to piece, so there's not much to tell, other than that they look pretty cute, and they don't have seventeen layers of interfacing...unlike another wip I've got at the moment ;)  Please pardon the not-so-fabulous photos - we had a seriously gloomy, stormy day yesterday, so I didn't have a lot of light to work with, and combine that with my lack of camera skills, and this is what you wind up with.  Anyway, here's how all the blocks look together...

FW Blocks 1-30

Block #27: Darting Birds
This block looked intimidating, and while it was mildly time-consuming (then again, compared to the Economy block, they all are time-consuming), but it was relatively simple to piece.  I used a bright print from Amy Butler's Soul Blossoms collection paired with my favorite aqua print from Kate Spain's 12 Days of Christmas collection.

FW Block 27: Darting Birds

Block #28: Duck and Ducklings
In the book, this block is shown in red and black, and it looks quite striking.  Somehow, in aqua and purple, it's somewhat less striking, but I'm still happy with how it turned out.  I used an aqua print from Dena Designs' Kumari Garden collection and a purple print from Kate Spain's Central Park collection.

FW Block 28: Duck and Ducklings

Block #29: Economy
The simplicity of this block, after all of the tedious blocks before it was a welcome change.  This block was by far the easiest to put together, of all 30 I've made, and with the fewest number of pieces as well.  I wish I'd chosen fabrics with a bit more contrast, though.  I used a green and blue print from Dena Designs' Kumari Garden collection and a lime green print from Erin McMorris's Weekends collection.

FW Block 29: Economy

Block #30: End of Day
This block was another one that was relatively simple to put together, but I really love how it finished up, and I think that's due to some pretty nice fabric selection on my part.  I love the hot pink Mendocino print I used here, the pop of color and fun that it brings to this block.  I really like the way this block finishes up, and I could see myself making this block again, maybe in a bigger size than 6.5", but for another bee maybe.  I used three fabrics here, the dark blue from Robert Kaufman's Metro Living, the lighter blue from DS Quilts's Picnic & Fairgrounds collection, and the hot pink from Heather Ross's Mendocino collection.

DSCN5804

All in all, these last four blocks were pretty simple to put together - or maybe I'm finally starting to get the hang of these darned tiny blocks.  The next two blocks look super easy - including an Evening Star block (basically a 6.5" version of the Star of Virginia used in the Summer Sampler) and another star, but never fear, there are plenty more daunting blocks coming up soon, including another freaking basket block.  As if one botched attempt at needle turn applique wasn't enough...
Monday, August 29, 2011

Me vs. The Weekender Bag: Round 2

Well, so far, I have to say that this Weekender bag isn't quite as scary as I thought it would be...though it did almost deliver a knock-out punch to me today.  Well, the bag didn't do it, exactly...it was my own mistake that did it.  I made a seriously colossal error, but as Megan was quick to point out, at least I hadn't added the piping on top just yet.  See, this bag is supposed to have two handles, one on each side of the bag.  For some reason, when I added my handles, I didn't pay close attention to the directions, and I added the handles wrong.  Instead of adding one entire handle to each front of the bag, I added one end of each handle to each front of the bag...like so...

DSCN5801

Fortunately, I caught this mistake before the piping went on top, and as I texted back and forth with Michelle over my serious error, I realized that I could fix it pretty quickly, so thankfully, I got back on track pretty quickly, and without much tears or cursing, believe it or not.

The biggest, most important thing about this pattern is to read the instructions and to read them carefully.  If I could have managed to do that, I would have avoided the biggest whoops I made.

The piping wound up being a lot easier than I anticipated, though I wish the pattern had better described where to stitch on the piping.  I definitely sewed a bit too close to the cording, but it's okay, I'll make it work - the thread matches pretty well, so for my first attempt at cording, I'm pretty happy.

DSCN5783

I've added the handles and the front pocket so far and the piping to one of the main panels, so it's starting to look a bit like a bag now.  I'm up to step 7, and I'll have to stay there for now, as step 8 calls for the special-order zipper I haven't yet received for this bag, so I'll have to set my bag aside for now.

DSCN5803

Really, my only feedback for those of you thinking about tackling this pattern is to be careful with cutting the interfacing - the measurements from the pattern are really to the inch - and to take each step slowly.  Don't jump ahead, and be patient.  Patience doesn't come naturally to me when I sew, so it's been a big-time challenge, and I'm impressed that I've only had to pull out my seam ripper once.

Stay tuned for round 3 when my zipper arrived, which will hopefully be by next weekend!
Saturday, August 27, 2011

Me vs. The Weekender Bag: Round 1

First, thank you all so much for your well wishes about my munchkin's first day of school.  He's been to school twice this week, and has loved every minute of it so far.  While I miss the heck out of him while he's there, I've really enjoyed the little bit of free time it's allotted me and I've loved seeing the big grin on his face when I come to pick him up at school.

One of the things I've started working on is the infamous Amy Butler Weekender bag.  Much has been written about this bag, and how maddening it can be to make, yet, I still wanted to make one.  I picked some fabulous fabrics from Erin McMorris's Summersault collection, and I can see the finished bag in my head...but I suspect getting there is going to be challenging, to say the least.

My Weekender plans

There are 13 steps to making this bag, and I've gotten through the first two so far, which is a boatload of cutting. There's two kinds of interfacing used for this bag - Peltex 70 (the stiffest kind of Pellon interfacing) and a lightweight interfacing, like ShapeFlex.  Officially, there are 22 pieces cut from the lining and exterior fabrics, and 23 pieces cut from the two interfacings.  It was tedious, to say the least, but I made it through.  It's the next step that's got me freaked out.

DSCN5757

Step 3 is where I get to make my own piping to go with the bag.  I cut a bazillion bias strips to create the piping with, and I've got the cording, but I am not looking forward to this step.  Why?  Because I've never done it before, and it doesn't sound like fun.  But, I'm going to do it, and hopefully it will be easier than it seems.  I've read the step three times this morning, I'm as ready as I'm ever going to be.

Speaking of ready, my sweet, helpful husband helped me baste my behemoth warm/cool quilt last night.  I'm definitely nervous about trying to quilt it, but at the same time, I'm kind of looking forward to it, so I can get a real quilt on our bed.  And if nothing else, quilting this bad boy will be a nice break from working on my Weekender bag!  Happy sewing this weekend :)

DSCN5769
Wednesday, August 24, 2011

WiP Wednesday #41

Today is D-Day.  As in...Drop-him-off-at-preschool-for-the-first-time Day.  I'm nervous and excited, just like he is.  A part of me is so excited to have the house to myself to turn on the radio and sing along while sewing or cleaning or doing something that makes me feel like something other than a mother for a few hours.  And another part of me is nervous, wondering how he'll do socially, how he'll cope with not being with me, for the first time in his three years.  I really do think that he will do well in preschool, that it will be a good experience for him, and I feel confident that I've picked the right one, but only time will tell in a few hours when I drop him off.  Wish me luck :)

Anyway...here's what's going on in my sewing room this week...

Finished:
Sewing Summit humongous 12" pouch

My huge embroidery pouch!

String block for August String Me Along


DSCN5690

For the Love of Solids swap package


DSCN5693

Still in progress:
Farmer's Wife Quilt Along - I was so excited about finishing up my warm/cool quilt top late on Monday that I skipped my regular FW update.  I finished up two blocks this week, Darting Birds and Duck & Ducklings, and they're in here somewhere...

DSCN5649

Secret quilt - Quilt top is almost done, but I'm awaiting one last fabric to come in to finish up the top.

DSCN5692

Ryan's guy quilt - Zilcho progress.

Quilt tops awaiting quilting:
Warm/cool quilt - Like I said yesterday, I have no idea how I'm going to quilt this just yet, but I do intend to baste it this weekend, hopefully, with another pair of hands around.  And a new can of spray baste, need to pick that up, too...

Stained glass HSTs

New:
Weekender Bag - Oh yes, I am going to finally tackle this bag.  I've got the fabric, almost all of the notions (still hunting for a 30" zipper), and almost enough gumption to start cutting...

DSCN5696

100 Quilts for Kids Quilt - I am going to get cracking on this one real soon, hopefully.  If you haven't heard of the 100 Quilts for Kids program that Kate is hosting, you must check it out!  I think I'm going to use a yummy stack of MoMo's Odyssea, which I've had for way too long in my stash, along with a few solids.

Swim, Bike, Quilt

WiP Wednesday #40 Recap:
Last week's total: 7
Finished this week: 3
New this week: 2
This week's total:
Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Five hundred and seventy-six pieces later...

There are no words to tell you how happy I am that this quilt top is done.  It measures 90" square (which was kind of an accident, but I went with it), and was incredibly difficult to photograph!!  I used my handy-dandy Gorilla Pod for my camera, and my awesome self-timer, but I only get ten seconds to dash to my step-ladder, climb up and attempt to hold up my quilt.  This quilt is so large that none of those photos came out especially well, but here's the best of the bunch.

DSCN5670

Fortunately, my husband sometimes resembles an evil scientist.  After a long day of work, he came home, propped the step-ladder up on the highest part of our yard (given that in Florida there's really no such thing as hills), climbed on top of the step ladder, and held up the quilt. The result?  Infinitely superior photos, although still lacking a little something.

DSCN5681

Then, I got a wild idea to do a stained-glass-inspired shot, with the sun going down behind the quilt, and my husband managed to get the quilt held up partly by the huge tree in our front yard and partly by him.  Then the munchkin had to get in on the action, and it felt like a family photo shoot.

DSCN5682

Stained glass HSTs


DSCN5686

This quilt has been a labor of love.  It's quite possible that I will avoid sewing up HSTs for a very long time, since there are 576 of them in this quilt, but I really love how this top has turned out.  I have no idea what I'm going to do as far as quilting is concerned, but I do know it's going to be some kind of free-motion quilting.  No way am I straight-line quilting this bad boy!

It might be another few weeks before this quilt gets officially finished, but I'm really looking forward to it being done so we can all snuggle under it.  Then again, with the munchkin officially starting preschool tomorrow, it's highly possible that I might finish this one a lot faster than I'm used to, so stay tuned!
Friday, August 19, 2011

I'm definitely traveling handmade

I really, really love pouches.  I get so many compliments on this gorgeous one that I use every day - Michelle made it for me in the first round of the Pretty Little Pouch swap earlier this summer.

DSCN5617
Thank you, Michelle, you rock!!!

I've been kicking myself over not joining the second round of the Pretty Little Pouch swap, which is in the midst of wrapping up, so I decided to make myself a pouch for my hand-sewing tools.  I totally intend to use this pouch to tote my embroidery things around the house and to the Sewing Summit in less than two months (eek!).  Have you seen the awesome Travel Handmade series that they're hosting?  Jeni reviewed a great Simplicity duffel bag pattern and Megan reviewed a great tote bag pattern.  Megan and I are toying with the idea of an AB Weekender Bag sew-along for the two of us, because we both really want to make one for our big trip, and figure we can use all of the moral support we can get!


So, after drooling over all of the gorgeous pouches in this round of the Pretty Little Pouch swap, I decided to make one for myself, to tote all of my hand-sewing and embroidery do-dads around.  I picked out a fabulous stack of aquas (Riley Blake Wishing Flowers, Joel Dewberry Herringbone, It's a Hoot Aqua Check and Michael Miller Aqua Ta Dot, respectively), grays (both Ty Pennington), and a fun orange Katie Jump Rope print and got to work.

My huge embroidery pouch!

I made my current favorite quilt block for the front side, and then for the back side, I stitched up a simple 9-patch and bordered it with some Kona Coal and Kona Medium Grey.  I am loving this not-so-little pouch!  It finished up at 12" square, so it will be plenty big for my embroidery hoop and various other hand-sewing goodies.

DSCN5616

I also stitched up a pouch for my For the Love of Solids swap partner, using the same color scheme that I used for the miniquilt I'm also finishing, and I'm pretty happy with how it turned out.  I've stuffed it chock full of solids scraps, and I'm hoping this lovely package I'm putting together is going to really make my partner's day, when shipping opens up next month.

A little pouch for my partner

For the weekend, I'm working on laying out the rest of my warm/cool quilt, which I've been working on in fits and starts all summer.  I'm hoping that perhaps over the next week, I might actually finish this quilt top up once and for all.  Fingers crossed!  What are you working on this weekend?

DSCN5618
Thursday, August 18, 2011

Time to toot Lee's horn

If you haven't visited my dear bloggy friend Lee's blog yet, you are seriously missing out on a source of inspiration.  Lee has made some fabulous quilts and bee blocks, but she also is a budding fabric designer.  She has a great way with color, and her latest fabric design is no exception!


She's entered a design contest over at Connecting Threads, and I would love it if you hopped over there and voted for her.  Her design is called Flourish and you can find it right here.  Isn't it lovely?  If she wins the contest, she'll get the opportunity to make additional coordinating prints to go with this one, wouldn't that be amazing?  I can already see this print in quilts, and can't wait to see more.  Are you with me?  Please go vote for her!!  Voting is open through August 31st.
Wednesday, August 17, 2011

WiP Wednesday #40

So far, this Wednesday is starting off a lot better than last Wednesday - for starters, my eyes are threatening to shut at any given moment, and I'm not in need of an IV-drip of caffeine to stay awake.  And I feel really good about a bunch of the projects I've got in the works at the moment, so it's a good day so far.  Let's hope it keeps going that way!


Finished:
Munchkin Snack Bag: One week from today, I will be a serious mess.  My little boy is starting pre-school next Wednesday, and while a part of me is super excited, another part of me wants to shed a tear.  He feels less and less like a baby every day, and more and more like a big boy.  Naturally, I felt compelled to make him a little something homemade from Mommy this past week for his big first day of school - a little snack bag, which he promptly shoved into his Captain America backpack.  He's so excited about school!



Still chugging away:
Warm/Cool QAL - Someday I will finish this quilt.  No, really, and I'm actually getting closer finally!  I finished trimming and ironing all 300-something HSTs this weekend, and now I can finally start laying them out and sewing them together!  I cannot wait to have this quilt top finished!!

Lots of trimmed warm/cool HSTs!

Ryan's Guy Quilt - I made a ton of progress on this one over the weekend, finishing cutting all of the solids, and starting to play with the layout of this one.  I've mixing up the fun character charms with some of the whimsical charms from the Japanese Charm Swap I did with Gen X Quilters a while back.

DSCN5562

For the Love of Solids swap - Another project where I've made some good progress - I'm focusing on my big project first, which is going to be a mini-quilt.  Since I didn't hear back from my partner, I'm going with my gut on the design.  I've just finished up the top, which is crazy small - these blocks are less than 5" finished, eek!  It's clear that my precision leaves a bit to be desired with this tiny piecing, so we'll see if I wind up chucking this and starting over.  I fully intend to use the other designs you saw me share last week in a few different ways coming soon!

FTLOS Mini

Farmer's Wife QAL - Moving right along here, I got two more blocks done with week, bringing me up to a total of 26 so far!

Blocks 1-26 - FWQAL

New secret quilt project - Almost done with the blocks, definitely on track to meet my Labor Day deadline for this one, yay!  Here's another sneaky peek...

Secret quilt in progress

New this week:
String block for String Me Along - Finally, a straight-up string block!  This should be a breeze to complete, but I'm trying to finish up a few other things before I work on this one.

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Embroidery pouch for Sewing Summit - In the spirit of the Travel Handmade series that my two bloggy buddies Megan and Jeni are hosting this week, I've started to think about some of the things I want to travel with for the Sewing Summit, and this is definitely one of them!  I've going to be making a large zipper pouch to carry my embroidery hoop, thread, and needles and such.  I'm hoping to find the time to make a few more handmade things for this trip, too, like a quilty nametag and a bag of some kind, but I'm going to try to take it one thing at a time.

A stack for me :)

I'm not calling it an actual item on my list, but...:
Found UFO - I happened to do some cleaning in my sewing room this weekend, and lo and behold I found a whole big stack of 9-patch squares that I completely forgot I had.  There's 52 of them, and they stem from the first real quilt project I undertook.  Not quite sure what I'll do with them just yet, but I will make use of them somehow...

UFO found!

WiP Wednesday #40 (wow - I can't believe we've done this 40 times now!!!) Recap:
Last week's total: 5
Finished this week: 1 (but it doesn't count because it was never actually on the list)
New this week: 2
This week's total: 7

So, that's how my projects are going at the moment, how about you?   Share your progress over at Freshly Pieced!
Tuesday, August 16, 2011

FWQAL Week #8: The one with my new favorite block


Happy Tuesday to you!  Time to catch up on my Farmer's Wife Quilt Along progress, I've got two new blocks to share with you, and one of them just happens to be my new favorite...

FW Block #

Block #25: Cups & Saucers (a.k.a. my new favorite block)
This block was very straightforward and simple to put together, but impressive looking all the same.  I could definitely see myself making this block again in a quilt.  I love the fabrics I picked for this block, which is probably what's really driving this block to be my new favorite (narrowly edging out my Churn Dash block) - the purple print is from Kate Spain's Central Park collection and the blue/green dot is from Amy Butler's Love collection.

FWQAL Block #26: Cut Glass Dish

Block #26: Cut Glass Dish
It's no secret that my seam ripper has been my constant companion while working on these blocks.  When I tackled this block, I thought it was pretty straightforward, and felt real confident.  Until I did this...

The triangles should all face the same direction and look identical...

Argh!  I grabbed my handy-dandy seam ripper and fixed that sucker up, but oh boy, it was a good thing the munchkin was out with his daddy, because there was a lot of cursing about my silly mistake there.  I was able to fix it, but I'm still not in love with this block.  I like the contrast in the blues, but I'm not loving the Sanctuary print I used for the larger squares.  I suspect when I finish this quilt and put it all together that this block might wind up looking kind of interesting.  The dark blue print is from Densye Schmidt's DS Quilts collection, the lighter blue from Bonnie & Camille's Bliss collection, and the pink and peach print comes from Patty Young's Sanctuary collection.

Blocks 1-26 - FWQAL

I'm also guest posting today about fabric shopping and cuts at Sara's fabulous blog.  Have you ever been confused by all of the different fabric cuts and precuts available?  I break it all down over at Sew Sweetness today as part of Sara's special Sewing Back to School series, so make sure to check it out and have a great day!
 hello

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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