Update from the Duffel Trenches #1

I've spent the last several days off an on working on my StudioCherie duffel bag. I've officially made it to step 4 of the pattern, strap preparation, so I'm going to share how the first few steps have gone.

Crosshatch quilting in progress

Step 1: Quilting and sizing the quilted pieces
Admittedly, I probably went overboard with the quilting. The instructions regarding the quilting were quite sparse, and I like quilting, so I spent a good bit of time adding lots of quilted flair to the two pieces that were intended to the be quilted. I've got straight-line quilting, I've got cross-hatch quilting, there's some scrolls, some clamshells, some stippling, really a little bit of everything. The quilting went rather well, until I got to the sizing. After quilting, I simply didn't have the size I needed to trim to, so I'm going to have to alter the pattern as I go. Next time (if there's a next time) I make one of these duffels, I will cut my feature fabric, batting, and lining at least 1-2" larger all the way around to allow for some shifting and such on the large piece. The smaller quilt seemed to come out just fine, so perhaps I wouldn't do that with that one, but I've made a note on my copy of the pattern.

Quilting - check!

The instructions then indicate to either serge the edges of the quilted pieces or to add binding to them. I thought (for about two seconds) about binding them, because the way I understand the construction of this bag, the edges will be visible from the interior of the bag, but decided against it and zigzagged the edges with my Viking.

Zigzagging edges

Steps 2 & 3: Marking the big quilted piece and Marking the small quilted piece
Marking was relatively easy and painless. The pattern gives some great visual cues on how to properly mark the pieces, so I think I'm all set on this front. We'll see how it goes when I actually need to see my markings in a few steps!

Next up is the strap preparation. This will be my first time working with jute for bag straps, so it should prove to be interesting. I wasn't able to source my jute webbing locally, I had to buy it online, so the color isn't quite what I would have wanted if I'd found it in person, but I think it will work out okay. Now that I've trimmed up my orange Sketch fabric for my straps, I'm liking it much better, and I think it will be a nice accent to my penguins. Stay tuned for more gory details as I make my way through this bag! Have a great day :)

Up next: straps!

Introducing: The Xs and Os Quilt

I was so excited to finally finish off my Xs and Os quilt this weekend.  Not only was I *finally* starting to get over this dreadful cold I've had, but I really adore the bright colors in this quilt.  They make me smile :)

X and O quilt - front view

This quilt grew from some simple sketches I made, trying to think of what I wanted to do with a lovely stack of Peacock Lane by Violet Craft for a little boy debuting early next year.  I fell in love with a sketch of Xs and Os, symbolizing hugs and kisses, and got right to work.

X and O quilt - the textured view

First, I tackled all of the necessary quilty math, and then I got to cutting.  Sometimes I find myself really enjoying the ironing and cutting phase of quiltmaking.  This was one of those times, and it's because these fabrics are just so gorgeous.  This is seriously one of my favorite collections right now, it's so fresh and fun and the artwork is so beautiful.  I tried my best to fussy cut some of my favorite pieces of these gorgeous fabrics, and I think I succeeded most with my elephant X.  That's quite possibly my favorite block in this little quilt.

My favorite block

This quilt pattern is now available in my Pattern Shop, and I will also be making a girlie version of this quilt at some point for the shop as well.  The Xs and Os quilt PDF pattern includes all of the information you'll need to make this quilt, including color photos and complete piecing diagrams to follow, as well as requirements for batting and binding.  Two finished sizes are offered in this pattern: a 48" square baby quilt and a 72" x 96" twin size quilt.

Coming up later this week, I'll be sharing a simple quilt tutorial for my sweet girlie quilt and there will also be a giveaway some time this week, too!!  Hope you all had a wonderful stitchy weekend!

The X and O Quilt: Part 1

After I wrote about writing about the process of these two baby quilts last week, I realized I was probably going to wind up doing two very different quilts - which is totally okay, but it does mean that I'll probably write different process posts for the two of them.

Bonus HSTs

So far, I'm making progress with the quilt in which I'm using Violet Craft's gorgeous Peacock Lane fabrics.  I'm just loving working with this collection so far.  I adore the colors in this collection and the illustrations of elephants and peacocks are just darling.  I decided that I wanted to try my best to feature these prints in a big kind of block, so I went with a 12.5" block for this quilt.  Normally, when I do a baby quilt, I go with a smaller block - mainly because the quilt will end up being smaller and it allows me to put more blocks into the quilt.  I'm aiming to make this quilt wind up being approximately 48" square, 4 blocks by 4 blocks.

Starting to piece my first X block

Once I decided how many blocks I wanted to do, I worked on sketching the blocks I chose to work with - the X and O design I shared on Wednesday.  I just love the idea of these X and O blocks, symbolizing hugs and kisses for a new baby.  I started by sketching out the blocks to figure out the size each piece of the block would need to be.  If you guys really dig this quilt, I could easily write up a quilt pattern for this one...

Quilty math, planning, and cutting, oh my!

After I finished up my quilty math, I started ironing and cutting my fabric.  Then, I made some lovely little piles and got to sewing.  I'm happy to say that so far, my quilty math is working out just right and I even figured out how to get some bonus HSTs out of the O blocks, either to use on the back of the quilt or to use for another project, which I was happy with.  I've only made a handful of blocks so far, but I'm happy with how it's coming together so far.

3 blocks in and loving it

A little weekend sewing and happy mail

Can I first say how excited I am about how many of you are interested in my little quilt along?  I can't believe how many of you there are!!  This is going to be so much fun!

I wound up spending a few unexpected days in Orlando last week with my family, which was a lot of fun, but it's good to be back home.  I was really happy to see my sewing machine yesterday.  I wanted to work on something fun, so I cut into my Pillow Talk Swap stack of fabric and started sewing.  I didn't really do any sketching, just started cutting.  I'm still very much playing around with this, but I wanted to share what I've got so far.

PST possibility #1

I'm really enjoying playing with scale on this project.  I haven't done a ton of half-square triangles (HSTs) in my quilting life, but I can see why quilters enjoy them.  They're so versatile and you can do so many different things with them.  I've found a way to make four of them at once, and they're so much more precise than other methods I've tried.  I'm quite certain it's not a new method, but I'll tell you more about it when I finish up this little pillow top!

PTS Possibility #2

I'm possibly foreseeing a little bit of hand-quilting happening on this one, we'll see.  I am not normally drawn to this color palette, but I'm really liking how this is coming together!  And playing with the HSTs has been a lot of fun.  I am looking forward to wrapping this one up and getting it off in the mail to my partner.

Speaking of mail, guess what was in my mailbox when I got home from my little mini-vacay?  An awesome bag from my Goodie Bag partner, Lindsay.  Did she hit the nail on the head or what???  It's just perfect for me, thank you so much, Lindsay!

My Goodie Bag!

Cue the Hallelujah chorus

Because Act II of my spiderweb quilt journey is finally complete!  Last night, I finished paper piecing the last spiderweb quarter.

Cue the Hallelujah chorus

I don't think there are adjectives strong enough to tell you how happy I am that I have finished this part of the quilt, but here's a few that come to mind....

I could go on...

I do still have to rip all of the paper off this last stack of blocks, and seam all of them together, but I still feel super good about this.  This quilt came awfully close to becoming a UFO that I put away and forgot about at least a few times.  Whatever possessed me to make a quilt like this with tiny 1" strips???  Please, dear readers, if you see me mention another teeny-tiny string project like this one, please stop me!

With a long holiday weekend, maybe that will mean some extra quality sewing time, we'll see. It's quite possible that if I use some laser focus and avoid my typical quilty-ADD, I might just have a quilt top to show you next week.  All I know for sure is that I see papercuts in my immediate future.

I might be onto something cool...

Or it's quite possible that I've lost my mind and am on the complete wrong path.  It could totally go either way...

I sat down at my sewing table today and felt super determined to get a move on with the Goodie Bag Swap, which I've done very little over the last two weeks, other than sketch out the shape and size of the bag I want to make.  Today, I decided on a lining, and even cut it out.  Then, I cut out some interfacing.  I almost started cutting the main linen for the bag, and then I decided I wanted to piece some kind of patchwork into the linen.  I brainstormed for a few, then decided to make scrappy log cabins.  Why?  I don't know, they just sounded good.

Partner, do you like scrappy log cabins?

There's one for the front of the bag and one for the back.  What do you think?  Are they hideous?  You can tell me, really, I can take it.  It's quite possible that I'm just being hard on myself today, but I need to hear from you.

Oh - and I'm all kinds of ready for the big Giveaway Day tomorrow.  I'll give you a clue...the fabric I'm giving away is by one of the most popular fabric designers.  Check back after midnight to find out and enter!

Seriously? Seriously!

After shedding a few tears and uttering many curse words, I think I can tell you how dreadfully my evening of sewing has gone.

I was super excited to finish up the backing for my Supernova quilt tonight.  I am putting together some plus-style patchwork, and it's looking really awesome...or I thought it was, until I tried to finish putting it together.  Only to find...

I screwed it up!

Oh, yes, I screwed it up

I should have labeled every single row here, but I felt like I kept them organized enough to avoid any headaches with the layout.  Things seemed to be matching up, the rows came together super fast...I should have known something was too good to be true.  Obviously, these fabrics should match up when they're right side up...not with one row right side up and the other wrong side up.  :(


So, now, it's time to get up close and personal, again, with my seam ripper.  I think I'm done cursing.  At least for now.  Between a seriously cranky, testy 3-year-old and these foibles tonight, I think it might just be time to call it a night.  Argh.

The mojo is back with April's bee blocks!

While zippers may have challenged me this weekend, finishing up some bee blocks has brought back my sewing mojo!  I'm officially all caught up for the month, which is nice and refreshing, especially since it's my turn to be the queen bee next month in the String Me Along bee and I need to not only decide on some fabric but I also need to pick a block and get my packages ready to go!

First up, String Me Along's block for Fran - a simple bento box block, using Ashley's great tute, but skipping the cutting it up into quarters bit.  I've never worked with batiks before, so this was an interesting block to work on.

Next, this month's blocks for my do.Good.Stitches circle, the Bliss circle.   This month, we worked on blocks inspired by a swap Amanda received.  I really love simple patchwork like this.  I can't wait to see how this quilt turns out.  Did you know that our first quilt has officially been finished off?  You can check it out over on Michelle's blog.

Lastly, I worked on a seriously challenging paper pieced Circle of Geese block for Brooke in the {Sew} Beautiful Bee.  I practiced several times before deciding that I was psyching myself out, and I just went for it.  I'm glad I did, because once I started working on this, it went so much more smoothly than my practices!  I really love how this block looks.  Brooke picked some great fabrics here, and I'm glad to have conquered it.  I will definitely be making this block again for something - a pillow maybe?

And lastly, though it's not a bee block, rather a block of the month, I did finish off my Birdie Stitches block for this month.  I just love these blocks - between doing a little bit of embroidery and then being able to have a cute little coloring page for my son, who is just dying for this quilt to be finished!  

{Mis}Adventures with zippers

I decided that this weekend was going to finally be my showdown with zippers.  Naturally, that's when my mother called and announced that she planned to visit for the weekend.  She left around lunchtime yesterday, so I've spent the afternoon trying to tackle a zippered pouch.  I must say, I need practice.  Definitely.  I used Noodlehead's great Gathered Clutch tute, which is so super cute.  Mine is decidedly less cute, although I'm still proud of it.

I made some seriously amateur mistakes on this little pouch.  I think my sewing mojo was elsewhere, between the silly mistakes I made here and the ridiculous mistakes I made on a recent bee block this week.

In attempting to shorten my zipper, I didn't shorten it enough, not knowing quite how to measure the zipper, and rather than going back and shortening it further when I realized my error, I kept on trucking.  Mistake #1.  I've now done a little bit more homework, including reading a really great post on Sew Mama Sew about all things zippers which taught me about how to appropriately measure a zipper (from metal to metal).

I also managed to use my zipper foot backwards.  I didn't think of doing some zipper research on YouTube until just now; next time I tackle something new, I definitely will.  I found a few helpful videos about zipper feet that told me I was using mine all wrong.  I made it work, but it seems that my way was definitely not the right, easier way.

I got my partner for the Pretty Little Pouch swap this weekend, and thankfully, she doesn't have her heart set on a zippered pouch, but I really want to master these rather than shying away.  So, here's your warning - there's going to be more zippers around here!!  If you have a favorite zipper tute, pass it my way, I'd love to see it.  So...I now have my first zippered clutch completed...and though it's fraught with errors, I'm really excited that I have officially sewn a zipper.  Maybe after another two or ten, I won't be scared of them anymore...

And since I feel obligated to show you something beautiful, here's a little something - it's butterfly season around here, apparently.  We've got cocoons all around our house, and a few butterflies have started to emerge this weekend.  My son is absolutely fascinated with these little guys.  When I took my new pouch outside to photograph, I happened to stumble on one of our new little butterfly friends.  Such a pretty one!

FNSI #1 Results

My Friday Night Sew-In didn't exactly go as planned...there was some serious potty training progress tonight that kept me from getting started until around 8 o'clock, but I had a pretty good couple of hours with some good progress to show off, and now I'm tired and need to head to bed.  I've got a long day ahead of me tomorrow, visiting my mother to help her with computer troubles, and need to call it a night.

I did some prep work during naptime to make FNSI go a little smoother - I managed to baste both my Make Mine Modern mini-quilt and the MHC drunk love quilt.  I used spray baste for both, and my back seriously thanked me for it.  I can't get over how much easier and faster spray basting is.  I still used a handful of pins on the edges of the MHC quilt, since it's bigger, just to make sure it didn't slip.  I also wound a bunch of bobbins so I'd be ready to roll tonight.

Locked and loaded, ready to sew!

I started out on my Birdie Stitches block, which was a breeze to complete.  It seems like with each month, I get a little bit more proficient at embroidery and it goes by more quickly.  This one is awfully cute!

Birdie Stitches March - done!

Next, I quilted my bookshelf mini-quilt for the Make Mine Modern swap.  I really love how this one is looking at this point.  I'm

MMM quilting in progress

The last project I got started on was quilting my MHC quilt.  I can tell it's going to take a few sessions, much as I dislike the idea of several sessions.  The fabrics are very busy, and it's taking a lot of focus to stipple without overlapping the stitching.  Instead of going all over the place, like I usually do, I'm trying to actually stick to staying inside one block at a time, to make it easier to follow.  I like how the stippling is looking so far.  I'm two rows into it so far, with 10 blocks quilted. Only 20 left to go!

MHC quilting in progress

So, three bobbins emptied tonight.  A bit less than I expected, but I'm still happy with how my first Friday Night Sew-In turned out!  Have a great weekend!

Empty, empty

You've just got to love a block with the word "drunk" in the title

Part of me wonders if the improv nature of these drunk love blocks would be easier for me if I were drunk...

The more I work on my hope chest quilt for Kayla, the more it feels like I'm not improv-ing enough.  I'm about 20 blocks into this quilt now, it's overtaking my design wall, and while I do definitely love it, I worry that it's too modern for someone I don't even know.  I'm trying not to be too wonky, for fear that someone outside of our little quilting world wouldn't necessarily understand that - I know my mother, for instance, doesn't get the whole wonky thing, she thinks it makes things look a bit shoddy and poorly made.  I disagree, but then again, I disagree with my mother about a lot of things.  ;)

Anyway, so this quilt is moving right along, which makes me happy.  I'm hoping to wrap the blocks up soon so I can get back to wrapping up the blocks for my Single Girl quilt.  I'm feeling pretty recharged and ready to climb that last mountain of curves for those blocks, before it becomes a total UFO.

Sidebar...have you ever been hesitant to cut into the last pieces of fabric for a quilt?  I always like to have extra fabric lying about for a quilt, and with this quilt,I'm using a couple of fabrics I've been hoarding for a while...namely one of my favorite prints from Erin McMorris's Park Slope.  That dark pink swirly print is the one I'm talking about.  I cut up the last of it this morning for this quilt, and it was awfully sad.  It took all I had in me to not hop online and order another half-yard of it from some place.  Are you like that,too, when you use up your favorite fabrics?  Do you rush out to replace them in your stash?

Have an awesome Friday everyone!  And don't forget, Friday Night Sew In is coming up on 3/18, the day before National Quilting Day, and I'm going to participate (officially) for the first time.  Come join in the fun, feed the family and then sew the night away!

Time for your FMQ thoughts...

All righty, quilty friends...I have a quilting dilemma.

This week I'm hoping to start quilting the simple quilt I'm making for my grandmother-in-law, Joan.  She was once a quilter herself and now suffers from pretty severe macular degeneration and spends most of her time listening to audiobooks with her cat.  Her sight is extremely blurry, though I don't believe she's classified as legally blind.  The quilt I'm making for her is very simple - see the sketch below.

I used charm squares to create a floating rectangle, basically - floating on some Kona Meringue - and am now debating how to quilt it.  First, I thought I'd stipple it.  It would make great texture for my grandmother-in-law to enjoy.   Then, I thought I'd straight-line it, to play with the super geometric design.

Then, I had a crazy idea.  What if I did both?

Let me explain, then you can tell me that I'm crazy.  What if I outline quilted the charm square rectangle, and then stippled in all of the negative space/solid?  Would that be really weird?  Or do you think it's really cool?  I'm not 100% sure what I think of it exactly, but I was thinking it just might be awesome...

Blogger's Quilt Festival: 12 Charming Days of Christmas

I debated long and hard on what to write about this week for the Blogger's Quilt Festival.  I've been quilting like a madwoman all week, trying to finish a new quilt to feature today.  Somehow, thanks good coffee and Jimmy Fallon, I'm super excited to share this quilt with you, my hot-off-the-sewing-machine, newly finished 12 Charming Days of Christmas quilt.

Using a charm pack of Kate Spain's 12 Days of Christmas and some Kona basics, I feel like I made a super fresh modern quilt, and I'm so thrilled to share it today for Amy's Creative Side's Blogger's Quilt Festival!

I challenged myself a lot with this quilt, and that's part of why I'm so proud of having finished it.  I created the pattern myself, using Ashley's quartered squares tutorial as a starting point.  I adapted it so I could work with a charm pack, and next week I'll be posting the tutorial if you want to make blocks like these ones with charm packs you may have amongst your stash.  This block translates into an awesome throw pillow!

Figuring out the math was a nightmare at first, and I joked with my husband that I was using all of that algebra I swore I would never need in school.  I had him help me with a lot of the math, and despite his lack of quilting knowledge, it was a big help.  It's become abundantly clear that I will not be the parent helping with math homework in our household!

This was also the first quilt that I sketched.  After I created the block, I wasn't sure where to go with it, so I got out a composition book and just started sketching.  Did I want to do a whole quilt of these blocks?  Do a quilt with just one block in the center?  Try to make 12 blocks, like the 12 days of Christmas?  Maybe just some quilted throw pillows?

I ultimately decided against that, and made 5 blocks, framed them with some Kona Coal and sashed them in Kona White, for a super sleek quilt top that really lets the blocks shine.  I am really in love with how this quilt turned out.  I'm feeling a lot more confident in my design skills now, and am sketching several other projects in that composition book of mine.

I straight-line quilted this quilt, which is a new concept to me.  All of my big quilts have been stippled, and I enjoy stippling, but I felt like this quilt needed a more simple approach to the quilting.  I've quilted a few small mug rugs and a doll quilt using straight lines, but this was the first sizable attempt.  I used a boatload of painters tape, and I'm really pleased with how it turned out.  It was definitely a challenge, trying to keep things semi-straight, but my lines definitely have a dash of wonkiness to them.  It's a good thing that I enjoy that kind of thing!

I learned I still need to work on my basting skills - there are a few wrinkles on the back of the quilt, all said and done.  I just read an awesome tutorial on spray basting over at Stitched in Color, and I think I may try that next time around.  I learned that I also need to slow down when it comes to binding - I get so excited about finishing sometimes that I make silly mistakes.  I had to rip out a a zillion stitches on the binding, which was nothing short of irritating.  Lesson learned, though.  Slow down!

All in all, this is definitely my favorite quilt that I have made to date.  It makes me want to start decorating for Christmas, even though it's not even Halloween yet.

I can't wait to start blog hopping around to see all of the other quilts in the festival.  You can still join in, just visit Amy's Creative Side for more details and to find all of the other blogs participating!

A good day indeed

My to-quilt pile is multiplying.  Time to get started on some quilting this week!

I decided after the Rockets and Robots Oh My! quilt that I wanted to take a mini-break from quilting.  Not piecing or putting together quilts, just the actual free motion quilting part.  It was exhausting, moving that huge quilt around, but now I'm ready to go at it again.  Hardcore.

I started today with the quilt I'm making for my in-laws for the holidays this year, the Park Avenue quilt.  I used a different low loft batting rather than my trusty Warm and Natural on it, and wow, this thing moved like a dream through my machine!  I really didn't even need my quilting gloves, it was so smooth!  I started quilting early this morning before my munchkin woke up, then set it aside for the morning, and wrapped it up during naptime.  Awesome!

Next up is some binding for this one, then another gift will officially get crossed off my To Sew list!  Yay!

After I wrap up the Park Avenue quilt this week, I'm going to help a new quilty friend, Brooke, finish off a quilt, and then back to holiday gifts I go.  The 12 Days of Whirlygiggles quilt for my sister-in-law's family will be the next one to get quilted.  I'm still waiting for the fabric to come in for the back of this one, thanks to a super clearance sale at fabric.com on this line, Kate Spain's 12 Days of Christmas.

Thank you, darling husband, for holding this quilt so long that you lost feeling in your arms!

And as if that didn't sound like enough to do, I've got various other fabric-related gifts to make for the holidays...a quilt-along with Jennifer that starts this week, a bag for my mother, some fabric-covered notebooks for other family members, and I'm planning to sew a few things for my son for Christmas, too.  And thank you, Lee, for adding to my list - have you seen Lee's  holiday advent calendar tutorial?  So cute!  My list just grew again.  Eek!  Then again, in my family, if you don't have too much to do this time of year, then it's just not the holidays.  I truly enjoy keeping busy like this!

I got an awesome surprise today, to make today even better - I actually won something!  Lee held a great giveaway last week for a custom blog header, and I was the lucky winner!  Woo hoo!  A new and improved look for my blog sounds good to me!

Hope you're all having a wonderful start to your week, too.  Happy sewing!