Friday, January 31, 2014

Friday Finish: My Version of the Phoebe Bag

Apparently, most pregnant women "nest" by cleaning and organizing their houses. When I was pregnant with Goose I nested by taking on large home renovation projects: replacing the exterior doors, ripping apart my attic studio and planning a full renovation of our upstairs bathroom. You know, little things.

This time around I seem to be obsessed with bags. Maybe it's because I realize that there is no reason to do a full clean of the house with a 2 year old running amok. Or that organizing everything for the umpteenth time doesn't mean that my house will be less cluttered or that I will remember where I put things. But for some reason, I feel that if I don't make every kind of bag I've ever set my eyes on then I won't be prepared for the little Chipmunk to enter into our lives.

And I have diaper bags (that would make too much sense to make). I'm craving handbags, totes, luggage, toiletry cases, you name it. I'm sewing zippers like a fiend. I'm investing in interfacing and webbing and iron on vinyl (for the toiletry cases of course). I'm pinning bag tutorials like they are going out of style. It's bizarre. I'm loving it, but it's bizarre.

I thought I could manage the bag expense by not buying any new fabric. I'd been eying tons online, but as long as I didn't click the little button I wouldn't have purchased it and therefore would have to make do with what I owned.

Then a friend and I checked out a new-to-us fabric shop a few towns over. I had been lusting after this Botanique Bold Bouquet by Joel Dewberry. Despite Google's numerous attempts to get me to purchase it (seriously, those big brother pop up ads based on my search history are going to be my undoing!), I had resisted. So what's a girl to do when 2 feet into a store finds a whole glorious bolt of it staring back at her? Buy it obviously.

I knew that I wanted to make a bag out of it (see: obsession above) and had saved the Phoebe Bag by Rebeka Lambert, which seemed like a perfect fit. I used it more as a starting point as there were a couple of changes I wanted to make. 

First, I wanted a "leather" bottom for extra durability and zippers zippers zippers. Long gone are the days that my handbag sits nicely next to me in the passenger seat in the car. It's more likely to be thrown on the floor as I struggle to get a flailing two year old in the car. Or dragged around the house when said two year old wants to play with anything he shouldn't. So I needed a zipper pockets in the front and inside as well as a zipper on top.

Luckily/unluckily for me, one of my favorite cheap-o Target handbags was on it's very last life with all the linings ripping and zippers coming loose. So I chopped it apart and was able to use (3) zippers, all the fabric for my "leather" bottom and the ring hardware for the strap attachment.

I lined the inside with a yellow/citron Pearl Bracelet by Lizzy House. As an aside, I never understood everyone's fascination with this fabric. Especially since it loses so much of it's charm when sliced up for quilts. But I realize now it makes a FANTASTIC lining for bags: it's simple but provides interest and comes in great colors.

A note on the zippers: I tried two tutorials for this. The first was on the outside (note to self: start with a hidden zipper when trying something new!) and I wasn't happy with the results. I think it was some combination of my zipper inexperience and unclear directions. The tutorial I used for the inside pocket by Vanilla Joy was fabulous and I've used it twice since with perfect results. In addition to the zippered pocket I added two slip pockets for extra storage.

The bag is a bit smaller than I expected. Even though I read all the dimensions and instructions I thought for some reason it would hold a lot more. I can fit my large wallet, chapstick, phone, a diaper, and Goose's water bottle in their comfortably but not much else. It may very well be a good thing so that I don't load it up every day with nonsense!

One more look...

I organized a new Pinterest board devoted to bags that I'm considering, as well as tips and tricks.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

WIP Wednesday: Sunshine Quilt

Can I join the million others and start with: It's Cold. Wah.

I'm not a big fan of complaining about the weather (noticing it is just fine, complaining not so much). Especially when people complain that it's hot in the summer and cold in the winter. Especially when you live in the Northeast. That's just the way it is and always will be (hopefully). However, this year I want to complain. 

I'm an Upstate NY girl. I can deal with snow. I can deal with cold. Usually I don't get the spring itch until mid- to end-of February, but this year I'm over it. It's too cold for Goose to run around outside and that boy needs to get out some energy in the worst way. I am constantly cold in my house and non of my sweatshirts fit over my too big belly anymore. Spring seems so far away!

I'm craving heat and summer almost obsessively (I'm going to blame hormones for some of this too!). My solutions? Go to the coffee shop that has huge glass windows with a greenhouse effect. Make non-alcoholic margaritas (best mix ever) and sit next to the heater. And work on this sunny quilt for my cousin and his wife.

They are due a month or so after I am (and our first babies were born on the same day!) and I was waiting to make this quilt until I knew if they were having a boy or a girl. Not sure why, as I'm not much for gender specific quilts anyways. But the moment I got the word that they were having another boy I grabbed my Olfa. 

Laying it out on my dining room table might have been the catalyst for my winter blues. It warmed up the entire room and seemed to just glow!

I used this template found on Flickr. Downloaded in the Original Size and printed a full size, it was a perfect finished 4".

So the big bummer with this is that all the fabrics... okay, most of the fabrics... were straight from my stash. After stocking up on fabric earlier this year, I thought it best to try and de-stash some with this quilt. Here's the problem with only working from your stash... then the stash is gone. Or at least the yellows and oranges. Hubby couldn't quite understand my disappointment at cutting up the last of my yellows, since that is technically why I purchased it in the first place.

Plus I have since found that there aren't a lot of yellows I love in the market right now (I guess that's a good excuse to gobble them up if I find them!).

I've updated (or will shortly) my 2014 Finished Projects page to reflect my goal list for 2014. I got a little distracted this week with the purchase of new fabric that called out for a bag that I'll share in a couple of days. But I'll get back on track!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Sparkle Punch Crib Quilt

I finished this right after the New Year, but it's taken me awhile to get any photos of it (and I'm not seeing how blurry they are-- photos on the iPhone look so much sharper!)

The pattern/tutorial I used was from Oh Fransson! I fell in love with the pattern as soon as I saw it, especially since it had the added bonus of including a wonky element!

The little 30" x 40" quilt was definitely supposed to be bigger but when I made it this far I put all my blocks up on a vertical felt design wall, stood back to admire them and watched in semi-horror as Goose knocked over the dress form standing next to the wall and they all fell off. From there on out he realized that nothing on that wall was permanent and he could take down and rearrange at his own discretion. All of a sudden this size seemed large enough (and my patience not nearly).

I chose to hand quilt this one for many reasons. First, I don't really like machine quilting. I'm not sure whether I'm not really good at it, I'm using the wrong needle and thread (though I've tried a hundred combinations) or my 15 year old-$100-Walmart machine is not feeling up to the task. Second, I wanted a project that would keep my hands busy while I spent time with my family at night instead of shacked up in my studio (thereby freeing up my studio time to start a new project!).

I loved it. I used a size 8 Pearle cotton in a wine and pale green color. It was rhythmic and relaxing. AND I think it gives the quilt the best finished look. Little imperfections can be overlooked and it has a really squishy, comfy feel to it.

I wonder if I'd feel the same if I hand quilted a beastly sized quilt....

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Lucky star

I'm still cruising on the blocks to catch me up for the January Lucky Stars 2013 and 2014 blocks. I wasn't psyched with the light turquoise vs dark turquoise points when it was all said and done. And I also realized that, with my love of the gold cotton ball fabric I'm about to run out of it. Might have to break my fabric diet and get some more gold fabric...

Still loving how the colors are all going together!

As with all these blocks, I'm realizing how very off the finished sizes have been. After doing some good old fashioned Googl-ing, I realized that my method of 1/4" seams, using the side of the presser foot, is very off. Maybe fixing that will make these a little more even!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


One of my 2014 goals is to make a on-the-go project bag for my hand quilting and embroidery. The designs for the bag are still under construction, but I had to jump in and make the little accessory pouch to go with it. My current tote bag has a mess of stuff floating around the bottom, and since the bag has no closure, it's constantly falling out.

I was scrounging through my stash and came across these two fabrics. My first big project after Goose was born was to try my hand at some low-immersion dyeing. I used some muslin I had on hand and blended a couple of tutorials and as such, I was less than pleased with the results and banished these pieces to the bottom of the pile. But with some years between us and a new project, it seemed they would be perfect.

It was such an easy project (or would have been if my focus hadn't been divided between the project and Goose trying to dance on the table), I'm ready to make a dozen more!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Sugar Block Club: January BOM

Before I found the Lucky Stars BOM, I joined the Sugar Block Club BOM. I was hesitant at first since it promised lots of pinwheels and I always associate pinwheels with more traditional quilts. But I loved the Flickr photos from the 2013 BOM club and thought I'd give it a try. To avoid the flying geese colorway fiasco I went to one of my favorite color palette design sources, Design Seed, to find inspiration. Looove me some Design Seeds. Nothing does more to start me planning an excessive number of projects than those palettes! 
I went with this one:

Color Celebration by Design Seeds

And naturally had to buy some fabric to support this.... which, on the first weekend of the New Years, made it my second purchase of the year. And I have since put myself on a fabric diet (kind of, sort of).

My current favorite source is Quilt Home. I've window shopped for a couple of months but this was my first purchase and they didn't disappoint!

Fabric (top to bottom): Kaffe Fasset Shot Cotton Latte, Heirloom Dandelion by Joel Dewberry, Midwest Modern Rust by Amy Butler, Kaffe Fasset PWGP140 Gold, Dowry Jade by Anna Maria Horner, Ocean by Kaffe Fassett, Aviary Granite by Joel Dewberry, Aviary Vintage Yellow by Joel Dewberry, Kaffe Fasset PWGPP135 Grey, Kaffe Fasset PWGP129 Brown

 I also had a chance to organize all these quilts I'm working on. I knew those gift boxes would come in handy a some point!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

2014 Sewing Goals...

I've been hesitating to put my "goals" out in the world. While many people feel that putting their goals out there will make them stick to them, I am more of the mindset that once they are out there I feel too much pressure (self-inflicted) to complete them and don't do it. Or... I wasn't going to do them regardless and then I just feel guilty about not doing them.

But. I keep thinking about them and need to mentally organize them so here we go.

Completion Goals
-Woodland Baby Quilt
-Hexagon Baby Quilt for my cousin
-Confused Flying Geese Quilt
-Lucky Stars BOM Club 2013 and 2013 and turn into a quilt
-Sugar Block BOM Club squares (final product TBD)
-On to the go Project Bag for embroidery and small quilting projects
-2 or 3 Project Linus Quilts
-Start Maple Leaf Rag quilt

Technical Goals
-Work on exact sewing and points
-Try dyeing and batik
-Improve hand quilting

January - March Goals
-Keep up with 3 BOM Club blocks
-Hexagon Quilt
-3 quadrants of Flying Geese Quilt
-Create enough scrap panels for a dozen center diamonds for the Maple Leaf Rag

Sunday, January 12, 2014

BOM: Lucky Stars 2014 Bonus Block

Last night my husband went over to our neighbor's house to watch the football game and I had 3 wonderful hours of sewing and was able to knock out most of the Bonus Block for 2014. It went so much better than my first attempt! The center is still a little wonky, but much much closer to on point than the other. And I love the colors. I know the Kaffe Fasset swiss chard fabric gets a little lost in the floral, but I like it. They are looking a little more kaleidoscope than stars, but I'm loving it!

But then I noticed how much smaller my first block (right) is than the the second block. Nearly 3/4" on each side! Clearly I botched that first one big time. I like the design though (or how the design should look) so I'm definitely going to take another go at it when I have some free time.

When I decided to do a BOM club and found Lucky Stars I accidentally purchased the pattern set for 2013, not 2014. I like to think of it as a happy accident of course. So I'm doing both 2013 and 2014 at the same time to end up with 26 blocks at the end of the year. I finished January 2013 today (it was a super quick one!), but I've realized my little iPhone does it's best at the top of my stairs in the daylight, so I'll photograph tomorrow!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

BOM: Lucky Stars January

One of my Technical Goals for 2014 is to work on my points and "exact sewing". One of my Application Goals was to do a Block of a Month club. So when I happened upon Don't Call Me Betsy's Lucky Star BOM club it was perfect!

A lot of BOM clubs patterns seem to be a little old fashioned, which isn't my style, but I love the look of these stars! I decided to really tap into my stash for this one and not buy any fabric for the blocks (sashing, border, etc. will be a different story) and to make the stars as vibrant and jewel like as possible.

I was cruising along and thinking I was rocking this. I really like paper piecing. It feels so controlled. As I put together the "rays" together I was never off by more than a sixteenth inch here or there (pretty good for me!).

Then all the pieces were put together and the center looked like this (I really need to start taking photos in daylight, not under my dining room light!):

And another side looked like this:

Grrrr... So frustrating!

But here's the whole shot...

And if I ignore my terrible center and the wonky connection AND that this wasn't actually supposed to be the order of the fabrics... I like it!

I like how the colors work together. I like that most of all of the points line up (except of course for the glaring center). I like the visual that's developing in my head for the final product. That's a fair amount of likes for my first star (trying to be positive here!).

So here's what I'm taking from this one...

-Be more careful with cutting the 1/4" seam allowance, especially on the centers of each ray
-Press carefully and accurately after each fabric addition

-I love my seam ripper

Now the hubs went over to the neighbors to watch the football game so I'm going to continue with my evening of decadent sewing!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Confused Flying Geese

I have two typical approaches to designing quilts. First requirement: it must be small, lap or crib size. I typically get burnt out on larger quilts and they lay half finished in my studio for years (there may still be one or two up there hiding in corners).  Second requirement: they involve the word "drunk" or "wonky" in the title or directions. I'm not the best at fine (or even approximate) points or squaring blocks up so if the end goal is something a little crazy then I'm in my element.

But it's a new year and I have some new goals (actually I have a LOT of goals, but more on that later). I'm going to attempt some sharp points and exact piecing. Gulp. We'll see how this goes. It's not going to be perfect. I don't need my quilts to be perfect, but I do want to challenge myself.

Enter the Confusing Flying Geese quilt. Inspired by this quilt by Lindsay Sews (take a minute and swoon a little bit). I wanted to attack a Geese quilt of my own that was a little wonky and drunk but in a different way... and it's full size.

I picked a palette to work with... I have no idea now what that palette was. I can't imagine my original plan was to have coral and orange and olive and gray and a bunch of blues??

 I pride myself in being able to visualize how things will look together in the final product. I also pride myself in coming up with combinations that others may not immediately think of but enjoy once it's in front of them. I think I missed the boat here.

I love all the individual color combinations. I'll put together a set of geese and adore it, then attach it to the rest of the quilt and wonder what the hell I have done... again.

So to start, here's the layout I'm working loosely off of (I was so darn proud of myself for coming up with a layout first!). Each block outlined in black works with the same fabrics.

Goose (ha, Goose) took a super long nap yesterday and I was able to finish the first quadrant of the quilt. I was hoping that seeing the whole quadrant together would be inspiring, but I'm feeling a little deflated. Woof.

So with a camera photo (let's be honest, all my photos are camera photos) and a little photoshop "magic" (I'm still very much learning) tried to see the greater picture and came up with this...

Yep, my photoshop skills are lacking... and the photo is blurry... and I should point out that the original block is actually square but photographed very wavy. Anyways, I don't plan to have exact repeats of the first quadrant, but do want to make sure each fabric is represented at least once in order to have some order so this gives me a general idea.

I loved the dark teal, olive and light gray (shows as white) while I was sewing it but now it really sticks out like a sore thumb. Blast. On a whole, this image gives me some hope that I can pull it off, but it's not the quilt I originally imagine! Maybe I should break up the teal/olive/gray strips into something smaller and put more concentrated color in there?

Time to clear my head and work with some different colors and fabrics...

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Foxy is Complete!

**Update: Ahh! I inadvertently deleted my first post. The detailed info about this piece has now been included at the bottom of this post. Whoops!** 

My little fox, the first of the embroidered animals for Baby K's Woodland quilt is done! And I'm super happy how it came out if I do say so myself!

A little close up of the vine and berry work...

I decided to embroider these squares instead of do a picture quilt (an idea I toyed with for awhile though I've never done one before!) so that I could make progress on it even when not in my studio. Once Goose has gone to bed, the Hubs and I like to relax and watch TV. I'm not good at just sitting and watching the tube so I need to be doing something else. As Pinterest was starting to rot my brain I figured it was time to pick up some handiwork and here we are!

Here's a peek at the palette of thread I'm using for all the stitching in this quilt. Once I go to sash it together I hope to use some Shot Cotton in coordinating colors. But that's a long ways off and honestly, if I don't get it done in time (or ever) or I grow tired of this project, Foxy looked just as sweet in the hoop so it could just make great nursery decor.

I adore these colors! And they look so shiny in this photo! It's just DMC floss, so it's not that shiny in person but a girl can dream...

Here's the info I accidentally deleted before...

Design: The fox is my own drawing and the circle frame is inspired by Not Just Any Bee  .

Materials: I bought the fabric from Joann's based on an online suggestion months ago. I wish I could remember what it was. All thread is DMC.

Stitches: Backstitch for rust outline, stem stitch for white detailing and light olive vine, palestrina stitch via Sarah's Hand Embroidery Tutorials for the dark green vine, single french knot for the berries.