Monday, December 31, 2012

Goals for 2013

I started my quilting journey in January of 2011, and my goal for that year was to create one quilt a month. That resolution worked out pretty well - I made at least 12 quilted projects, so it averaged out to one a month. For 2012, I continued this challenge, and added another element: my goal was to work only with my existing stash and not buy any additional fabric. I didn't do quite as well with my goal this year - I got really overwhelmed with the new baby and really dropped the ball on creating new projects. Also, I just gave up on avoiding fabric shops and bought whatever my heart desired.

This year, I am continuing and adding onto my 2011 and 2012 goals: in 2013, I will create at least one quilted project per month, using mostly stash fabric (and hopefully, these many projects will significantly lessen my stash, since I'm having a problem with storage.) I'm going to allow for my monthly output to include not only quilts, but also throw pillows, garments, and other sewing projects. In addition, each month, I will try something new. "Something new" can be a specific quilting technique, like paper piecing, sewing curves, or using an interesting tool. Or "something new" can be a more general sewing experience - I'd like to take a class, if I could ever get my schedule to work out. I'd like to make some quilted fan art to send to my favorite podcasters. I'd also like to make a quilt to give to a charity quilt drive - I feel like I saw lots of requests in 2012 for quilts for victims of natural disasters, and I'd like to have a few twin-size quilts on hand to send in when I hear of another drive.

I've already got lots of ideas circulating in my head - hopefully, I can see lots of them become reality in 2013. Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Hey, baby, you come here often?

 Geez, I haven't blogged for a couple of months. In my defense, I was hugely pregnant...

...and that works as an excuse for a multitude of sins.

I still did a little bit of sewing and crafting during my blogging hiatus. I made full-size quilts in blue and gray for two little boys who were going to be step-brothers. I got this photo of my delicious stack of new fabric...

But I didn't photograph the final product. My camera was out of batteries, and I couldn't find the charger. But it's not my fault, I was pregnant. See, great excuse.

I attempted to tackle the ongoing mess in the kids' playroom. I made an over-the-door Barbie-holding caddy, which is basically like a shoe organizer, with slightly larger pockets. Now we can get 30 fashion dolls up off the floor. Plus, it temporarily satisfied my craving to make something scrappy in rainbow colors. Watch out for that in the coming year, because I guarantee there will be an entire quilt made with rainbow scraps.

Unfortunately, since this photo was taken, the caddy has taken some abuse and held some weight, and the holes I put in for the grommets are starting to rip. So I need to do some repair work. I think I'll fix the holes and then nail it to the wall.

I decorated the nursery, which involved some sewing, painting, gluing, nailing, and stapling...

Then, on November 18, my darling little squalling hellmouth was born.

Normally, I wouldn't put pictures of my babies on the internet, but pics or it didn't happen, right? All babies look the same anyway.

It's taken a little over a month, but I've passed an important post-baby milestone. No, no, I haven't lost any baby weight (like, any). But I did start and finish a sewing project!

I followed this tutorial to make a tiny play tent, then accessorized it with a sleeping bag and pillow.

It's wrapped up and under the tree for my little four-year-old, who still hasn't noticed that her green dog is missing.

It feels like a huge accomplishment to actually get something done. I tried to make a little tree skirt for the mini Christmas tree in the kids' bedroom, but that project never bore fruit.

So, end of the year wrap up. The Barbie organizer, as well as the play tent and sleeping bag, were from stash, but I think you can tell from when I said "delicious stack of new fabric" that I haven't been very virtuous about my no-new-fabric challenge. It was like a diet: I did really well at the beginning of the year, and then just binged more and more as the year went on, always with new excuses. I'm a walking Kathy cartoon, except with quilter's cotton instead of chocolates. Ack, indeed. I'll do better next year - with fabric, with blogging, and hopefully also with my diet. Hey, these 60 pounds aren't going to lose themselves.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Sewing for Orphans donation project

I decided to contribute to the "Sewing for Orphans" project. Teresa Coates, who was running the drive, was asking for messenger bags, pencil bags, shorts, dresses, and cloth diapers for the kids at the Tam Ky orphanage in Vietnam. She originally blogged about it back in August, but I came to it a little late. I wish I could have done more, but she needs all donations by September 30th. I was still able to whip up 12 zippered pencil bags.

This was the first batch, using this tutorial. They came together pretty quickly, and I liked that it used a 9-inch zipper, which is a standard size that was easy to find. I also got to use up a few scraps of bias tape.

The second batch was made from this tutorial. 

The tutorial involved some applique, but I didn't do any of that. It also called for batting to give the applique some structure, but I didn't end up using any.

The pouch made from cow fabric was my favorite. I almost kept it. But now that I've got the skills, maybe I'll make another one for myself.

Making 12 zippered pouches was great practice with using zippers. Every one of them is lined with a coordinated fabric, so it used up some small cuts of fabric. And since they're meant for kids, I was able to finish off some novelty fabrics that I had no other plans for.

And of course, my favorite part was packing everything up and saying goodbye to it! Glad to have finished another project from stash.

Monday, September 3, 2012

August quilt: gnome pinwheel quilt top

I finished a quilt top, almost on schedule! 


I have binding and backing fabrics in mind already, so the quilting should go quickly. Once I get around to it.


I made a similar quilt for Christmas last year and thought I'd try it again. The Christmas quilt was made from 100 squares. Cutting out pinwheels shrinks the quilt a lot, and I was hoping for a larger quilt this time.

 The quilt started out like this, a 68"X68" quilt top, made up of 196 brightly colored 5"X5" squares with a 3" border around the edges. The color scheme is pretty obvious, but I also tried to pick any matching prints I had with gnomes, mushrooms, and woodland creatures.

I used the "Lil' Twister" tool, which is a Lucite square with an angled cross printed on it that helps to cut out the pinwheel squares.

The finished top shrunk down to 46"X58", even with the addition of the Michael Miller gnome panel. It's a nice size for a baby quilt.

I'm going to try to sell this quilt on eBay, along with listing the diaper bag that I blogged about last time. If they sell, great. College money for the new baby. And if they don't, I can use them for the baby.

Finishing off the quilt might have to take a back burner for about a week - we bought tickets to "Trick or Treat in the Heat", which is a charity fundraising Halloween event that takes place in early September. I have a cow costume to sew for my younger daughter, who has wanted to be a cow since last Halloween. Plus, I thought up the perfect costume for a pregnant lady. It's the only costume on Earth where the fatter, puffier, sweatier, and more out of breath I get, the better it looks. If I can manage to pull it together in the next week, it'll be genius.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A few quick projects

In my last post, I mentioned that I would be trying my hand at clothing repair/restyle for the first time. That project went off without a hitch.

I took a girl's Old Navy sundress that had developed a couple of holes (one hole was along a seam, and the other looked suspiciously like it had been cut with safety scissors). It's pretty rare for us to buy a new piece of clothing from a brand-name place, so I couldn't conceive of this dress serving this three-girl family for less than a couple of months.

I repaired the seam hole. Then I cut the dress down, made a casing, added some elastic, and it was done in no time. Now, it's a skirt. 

I also did a little project to use up some quilting cotton. I let the girls pick out their own fabric, then made a few crayon-and-coloring-book totes, using this tutorial. The project came together quickly and was very satisfactory. I even made a third tote for a friend, using some cute pirate fabric that I had. I added an initial to the front of each.

 If I do this project again, I'll have to do some alterations to the tutorial - as written, the width doesn't leave enough space for a full 24-pack of crayons. The tutorial also suggests adding interfacing, otherwise the bag ends up floppy. I added the interfacing to the red-and-yellow one, but found that it was too stiff, and it was too difficult to put in the crayons. So for the black-and-red and blue-and-red ones, I left them floppy, and thought they were fine.

I purposely gave the kids some of the fabric that I wanted to get rid of, and, god bless 'em, those kids picked out some real uggos to clear out of the stash. Seriously, the black-and-red fabric had a selvage with the year "2006" printed on it. Can I really have fabric dating back almost seven years? Yikes.

I just wish I knew more kids so I could make more of these!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Adventures in bag-making

During my July break from quilting, I made a bag. I don't like making bags, normally. Maybe I just haven't had the best luck with it, but the results are almost always disastrous.

But as with most things that I'm not very good at, I forget all about it until I'm elbow-deep.

So I decided to make a diaper bag. I used this great tutorial, with ideas for the ruffles and adjustable strap from this bag tutorial. It's lined with oil cloth and has lots of handy little pockets.

And the results were...not bad. I'll have to give it some practical use for a while before I really decide if I like it. The tutorial called for heavy-duty interfacing. I used fusible interfacing, and I've never liked the way the layers start pulling apart after even a little bit of use. And heavy-duty might have been too much for this job - I'm not fond of the way it creases after use. If I ever decide to try this project again, I'll just use medium-weight sew-on interfacing.

I thought the ruffles would make it feminine enough for my new little girl, but the overall color scheme looks more or less unisex. But you know what Roseanne says when someone accuses her of not being feminine.

My August quilt is well under way. I started it before I knew whether I was having a boy or a girl, so it's also gender-neutral. But before I get too deep into a new quilt, my machine needs a good cleaning and oiling. I'll also be trying something new to me - my first clothing repair/repurposing project. Hopefully, that'll be my next post, in the next couple of days.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Another finished baby quilt, and a quick project.

I've been working on creating a reading nook in my daughter's closet. It's getting there - pictures to follow. To decorate it, I put some fabric in embroidery hoops. It was a quick project, and didn't really use up much fabric, but the result is colorful and cute.


I also managed to finish another baby quilt. I'm not even sure where I'm at with my quilting schedule. What is this, June's quilt? Most of the work was already done because I had lots of leftover flying geese blocks. I added the little girl's initials as well as a border made from my favorite rosy fabric.

The backing for this quilt is a soft, fuzzy green fabric that has a leaf pattern. Just like the last quilt, I sewed the two sides together instead of adding a binding. But I've found that a binding-less quilt doesn't have quite the right effect when made with a minky backing. With a cotton backing, I'm able to get the quilt to lay more flat. But now I know for next time.

And now for my favorite part - putting it in a mailing box and never seeing it again! I'll be mailing this out tomorrow.

That's nine projects from stash.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

May's quilt is done

The baby quilt I previewed a few weeks ago is finally done. Lots and lots of little flying geese units came together and ended up really cute. I took out six flying geese at the bottom and put in a small panel with the baby girl's initials. I put the initials on first, then sewed it into the quilt, and the letters ended up off-center. The addition of a little heart was all it took to fix that.

I picked up this wooden rack from a thrift store yesterday. I thought it would be great for draping and photographing quilts, but I wish I knew what it was really meant to do. I thought I saw something like it in Betty and Don's bedroom in a season two episode of Mad Men. I suppose it's for hanging up a suit. Then you can set your hat on top. And I can only assume that the little dish sticking out in the front is for ashing cigarettes, which will come in super handy for me. (Not really.)

The backing was made from the rose fabric that I mentioned a few posts ago.

The quilting lines are all horizontal, going above and below the seam lines.

I had plenty of backing fabric left, so I used that and some pink and green terrycloth to make some matching burp cloths. At least...I hope they're burp cloths. I've never made them before, and there's no consensus online whether people actually prefer the contoured, peanut-shaped cloths. These were just straight rectangles. Bundled with the quilt, I've got a nice present for my friend, the expecting mom. Plus, I have enough backing fabric and flying geese units leftover to whip up another baby quilt for another friend who is expecting a girl. Hopefully, I'll have that done in a few days to show here.

After these little baby quilts are done, I might need to take a break from quilts for a little while. Flying geese make me want to run screaming into the night, almost as much as cathedral windows. And then I see how neat the overall effect is, and I start dreaming of making a twin-size quilt with black "sky" and rainbow "geese". So instead of quilting, I plan to spend most of July working on pillowcases for the pillowcase drive at my local quilt shop. That should be easy and mindless, and also use up a lot of stash.

I was also able to pull together a small project last night. I've had a few yards of Michael Miller's "Gnomeville" for a long time now, always meaning to use it in my gnome-themed nursery. Now that the baby is a reality and the nursery is starting to come together, I thought it was time to use it! So I made a valance.


The nursery has a lot of greens and browns, and red is just the accent color I needed. I love this cute fabric showing all the gnomes working in their mushroom houses.

That's seven projects from stash. (More or less.)

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Getting some trim

I'm starting to think I need to redefine "month" to be more like a company's fiscal year, reflecting how much time has passed rather than a date on the calendar. Because once again, a new month has arrived, and I don't have a quilt done.

Currently, my May quilt looks like this:

Four hundred cute and happy little flying geese units that I have been busting my hump nightly to produce...

...and all the trimmings.

For my last completed quilt, I finished it on the 11th of the month. The baby shower for this little girl is on the 10th, so maybe I can finish it by then.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Confession time

The good news is, I sold my Cat in the Hat quilt earlier this week! (I've never made a sale on Etsy, so I'm not surprised that it sold much quicker on eBay.) It's off to its new home in Tennessee.

The bad news is, the month isn't over yet, and I can already tell you, I'm not going to have a quilt ready for my deadline. Certainly not for lack of trying. I decided to go with a very challenging pattern: cathedral windows. I found a very helpful tutorial and went into it with great gusto.

From reading the tutorial, I knew there would be a lot of steps. But I couldn't imagine how I'd feel after days of slaving away at my ironing board. This pattern is a massive fabric killer and needle destroyer. It depleted my entire stash of Kona Ash, and blew through four needles like they were mere twigs.

The results are worth it - the texture and overall look is very neat, and the tiny details in the Sherbet Pips prints look like they were made for this quilt. The final product, when I finish it, will be made up of 100 squares. So far, I've finished 30, and I'm ready for a break. This quilt will be for a baby girl who is due in September, so I think I can get away with putting it away for a while and coming back to it later when I'm feeling more fresh.

Ready for confession number two?

 I fell off the wagon. I strolled right into my local quilt shop and took home almost 10 yards of beautiful fabric.

The bottom layer of that stack in Kona Snow. One of the terms of my "No Fabric For a Year" deal with my husband is that I can buy white if I run out, so I feel perfectly justified in buying it. And I'll be needing it, since I've got 400 flying geese blocks to make for next month.

The top fabric is another one that I'll be needing for next month's quilt. Last year, I made this hexagon quilt for a friend's baby.

So now, with another friend's baby girl on the horizon, I pulled out the same colors and prints that I loved so much as hexagons. This time, I'll be trying out flying geese.

I had lots of the greens and blues, and an acceptable amount of pink, but I had mere scraps of the rosy fabric. Since I had originally purchased the roses in June of last year, I wasn't sure if it was still available. I didn't even have the selvage to try and find out someone was selling it online. So I went into the quilt shop, just curious. And I found it. It's like it was waiting for me, there on the 50% off clearance rack. I bought all five-and-a-half yards, and I have no regrets. It'll make a great backing for this baby quilt, and I'll have enough left for some burp cloths.

These colors are so bright and happy, I can't wait to really dig in!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Time flies when you're missing deadlines.

My quilt was almost completely done by March 31st, and then I procrastinated for 11 days putting the binding on. Lots of reasons...we're expecting a new hostile youth in my household, so I've been milking that first trimester exhaustion for all its worth. Also, my sewing room is a great big mess that just closes in on me whenever I go in there.

Like lots of families who have little kids, we love the Cat in the Hat. I even dressed up like him last year for Halloween.

Complete with Thing One and Thing Two.

I've been wanting to try wonky piecing, and I figured there was no better medium to try it on than Robert Kaufman's Cat in the Hat fabric line. I originally planned to have this done to go with our Halloween costumes last year. Procrastination, remember?

I like the way piecing turned out, but I got discouraged with the way it finished up. It's much puffier than I care for, when I'm used to a much flatter work with denser quilting. I tried something new with the quilting and building my quilt sandwich - instead of putting all three layers together, I quilted just the front and the batting with an all-over free-motion pattern.

Then I added a piece of fuzzy black fabric to the back, sewing only around the blocks to attach it. I love fuzzy backs on quilts, so I'll definitely do that again, but next time, I'll create the whole quilt sandwich and quilt it like normal before attaching the backing piece. The quilting really needs that extra piece of backing fabric to stabilize it.

I finished it off with a red and white striped binding. I was originally aiming for a twin-size quilt, but I underestimated how much black fabric I had for the sashing. So instead, it ended up as a generously sized throw.

I listed this quilt here, in my Etsy shop. I've had better luck on eBay, so I might think about listing it there, too.

I'm not the only one expecting a baby. A friend of the family is having a little girl this summer, and my next project will be a quilt for her. But first, I need a few days to whip my poor sewing room back into shape.

That's five projects from stash.