Work-in-Progress Girl


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Jelly Roll Jam II

So I started the draft post of this on Thursday… two Thursdays ago. Apparently I haven’t been very talky lately! Anyway, I hardly had anything written in that original draft (and it referenced Friday Finish, which I’ve now missed twice because I keep on not finishing this entry).

You might have already seen it because I put pictures on Instagram and in one of my Talk to Me Tuesday videos, but I finished a baby quilt using Fat Quarter Shop‘s Jelly Roll Jam II pattern:

Jelly Roll Jam II

This pattern requires just 20 strips of fabric from a jelly roll for the top. I used 15 strips from a Kona cotton design roll – I think it was either the Rainbow palette or the New Colours (but the old new colours, not the current new colours, I’ve had that design roll sitting around for a while) – and added 5 strips of assorted prints. Three of the prints are polka dots, I think from Riley Blake, one is a Denyse Schmidt plaid (the orange one), and the navy chain link one… I don’t really know who that is. But I liked it enough to use it for the binding! I don’t have too much of it left now and no selvedge, so I don’t guess I’m going to figure it out! I forgot to photograph the back, but it’s backed in a navy blue flannel with while polka dots. Just a bit of random fabric I had in my stash. Actually, everything in this quilt came out of the stash – I didn’t have to buy thread or batting or anything for it! Go me! (It’s rare I don’t take the excuse to buy new things…)

This was the first project I sewed – beginning to end (minus hand-sewing the binding) – on my new-to-me Juki TL98E when it came back to me from the repair shop.

Juki TL 98E

By and large it’s been really wonderful to sew on. It sews really smoothly and has really beautiful stitches and it goes SO FAST. I keep saying that switching to this from my old Kenmore machine is like going from a moped to a Ferrari and it really kind of is – just basically no comparison between the machines, except that they both eventually get you where you were going. I love the needle down function (so love it!) and it’s smoother sounding and it makes nicer stitches. (Though I did take my old machine in to get serviced too … first time ever and it’s ten years old! Maybe it’ll make nicer stitches again now too.)

But I ran into problems almost immediately with the 1/4″ foot, which actually makes a slightly larger than 1/4″ seam, leaving me with an entire quilt worth of too small units! The thing is, I actually measured that first seam to see if it was the right size and it really did seem to be, but I think they were all just one or two threads too big and with five seams across a block, it was enough to eat up some width.

Jelly Roll Jam II

Because of the way the quilt is constructed (the blocks are not squares but rectangles), it didn’t actually matter so I just made the quilt slightly smaller in the width than it was meant to be. I didn’t want to pick out all those seams and start over again! So those strips are all supposed to be 2″ finished width, but are slightly closer to 1.75″ when they’re placed vertically. The horizontal strips are actually 2″ because I hadn’t sewn them yet when I discovered the error and I was able to stitch them up properly.

I did a lot (a lot!) of practise stitching with some different ideas for quilting, but I wound up defaulting to a basic all-over stipple. This was the first time I ever did stippling on a non-practise piece. On the old machine I’d always wind up with super tight and tiny little stipples because there was no room for my hands – I had to hold the quilt underneath in the harp space because there wasn’t room for my hand to sit flat atop the quilt and on the left because otherwise it would hang off the edge of the machine – but this Juki has a table and a lot more harp space, so there’s room for two flat hands, which meant I was able to get nice big curves without much difficulty.

Yikes! (some other quilting issues)

Not that it was perfect. I’m having a lot of difficulty keeping a steady speed on this machine. It’s just go so much power and then I wind up going too fast, start to panic, pull my foot off the peddle and then drop down to no speed. Which means there’s a whole lot of variation in my stitch length. But even the largest stitches here are less than a quarter inch in length, so I didn’t pick out any of my stitching. I decided to just let it go because eventually I will sort out the speed issue and as long as my quilts are usable, there’s no point in wasting time and getting really frustrated picking out things that aren’t perfect, but also aren’t that bad.

Yikes! (more quilting issues)

My other issue was the occasional bit of jerking around and making corners where there should have been curves (or little jumped stitches, where I suddenly veered an eighth of an inch to the left or right before continuing the original line – I do have photos of that, but I’m NOT going to fill this entire post with pictures of my little mistakes…). I did the quilt in kind of two passes – half of it on a Thursday and half of it on a Friday – and in the middle of that, I fell down a (short) flight of stairs and strained my back pretty badly in a couple places. Which I tell you because my second half of quilting was a fair bit worse than the first! I was so stiff that I would try to make a motion for a curve, twinge something in my back and wind up jerking around in pain and leaving evidence of it on the quilt top. So there are quite a few of those, and that’s maybe even what happened here. Sometimes, though, it was because I’d forget to stop before moving my hands or I’d try to keep quilting even though I was running out of hand space at all.

In any case, I really enjoyed working on this. I’ve always defaulted to straight line quilting in the past because I’ve been so intimidated by free motion quilting (I did do rows of loopy lines on one previous quilt), but getting this one thing under my belt makes the rest of it seem a little more possible. I just need to keep practising (and get that whole speed control issue figured out).

So this was my A Lovely Year of Finishes goal for the month (I was #93 in the linky!), and I’m so happy to check it off the list! I chose a pretty simple goal, but sometimes it helps to have the extra motivation anyway. And next month I think I’m going to aim just a little bigger… Maybe I should try to get it basted in September so that there’ll be one less thing to deal with…

My Button


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Citrus Swap

So I was waiting until I heard back from my prize winners before announcing them here, but I haven’t heard back yet from the winner of my first prize, the $50 gift certificate which was provided by Pam at Mad About Patchwork. Hopefully she’ll get back to me soon – I want to be sure I had the right email address before sending her information along to Pam – no sense in emailing a gift certificate to a dead email address, right? (So Anne Simonot, if you’re seeing this, check your email!)

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In any case, the winner of the second prize, the collection of Fat Eighths in greens, was Sabrina of Sabie Sews:

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Belated birthday wishes to Sabrina too!

In other news, I recently finished up another Open Wide Zippered Pouch from the Noodlehead tutorial, this one with a citrus theme for an Instagram swap I participated in. I only just got it sent out yesterday (a day late, oops!), so it hasn’t arrived with its recipient just yet, but here’s what I made and sent:

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The one thing I knew I wanted to do was to stitch the little Lime Slice Girl, who I’ve been calling Lulu Lemon-Lime (she started out as Liesl Lime Slice in my head, which I think is a better name, but I couldn’t remember how to spell Liesl – I had to look it up, but at the time I was posting on Instagram and didn’t want to leave the app to look up the spelling). This pattern by Cate Anevski was a free stitch-along pattern from August 2012 at Feeling Stitchy. I’ve had it saved for the last two years, just waiting for a reason to stitch it, and finally this swap came up with the perfect opportunity. The pattern leaves you with a lot of room for stitching interpretation and if you check out the August Stitch-along tag on Flickr, you’ll see some really cool variations, including a passionfruit version, from which I took inspiration for the laid stitches in the skirt.

I wish I’d taken more close-up photos of the stitching, but it was starting to rain when I was photographing this zipper pouch and I didn’t want to hold up my sending it off any longer than I had to.

Lulu Lemon-Lime

As always, I’m obsessed by doing the split stitch (my back stitch just never looks as nice!), so there’s a lot of that in there. I filled in the dark green layers of the skirt with three or four tightly packed rows of chain stitch, and then I loosened it up quite a bit and did the same thing to fill in the white pith on the skirt. Her mouth and nose is done with back stitch (and it doesn’t look very good) and then the eyes… well, I’m not sure what I’d call that stitch. It’s basically just three straight stitches worked in (almost) the same hole, with another straight stitch in yellow to represent the eyelashes. I was having issues doing proper eyelashes, so this was my solution because I was afraid of damaging the Essex fabric by stitching and picking out and stitching and picking out the eyelashes over and over again. The laid stitches in the skirt are pretty crappy looking – I kept changing my mind about how I wanted it to look, so I’d done it in all green to begin with, but then I added (and removed and added and removed) yellow in various different configurations. Eventually I picked out all the yellow I’d added and then just put an extra layer on top of the existing green laid stitches. If I’d planned it out a little better, I’d have stitched them both at the same time, with a strand or two of each colour in the same needle, so that the yellow wouldn’t float on top of the green quite so much. On the other hand, I really like my winging it version of a stitched braid in the hair. I did the yellow first, just taking criss-crossing stitches in varying lengths trying to create the shape of the braid. I stitched right on top of it with the orange, filling in the shape wherever it looked a bit empty; I think it turned out pretty well.

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I didn’t want the whole front of the pouch just to be that oatmeal coloured Essex linen blend, so I added the grey on either side (it was an accidental find – I was going to just patchwork some lemon-lime panels with squares of various fabrics, but then I stumbled over the grey, which I thought would be great for the lining, until I realized it was too small a piece of fabric. It turned out great for either side of the stitched panel (except it made me wish I’d stitched on grey linen rather than oatmeal!) and then I added the green Anna Maria Horner print for something like grass under Lulu’s feet, with the ric-rack just for extra interest. The lining was the perfect print to go with the colour scheme.

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I only have this one bad photo of the back (rain!), which is pretty plain. The stitching was just me trying to use up some of the leftover bits of cut thread from the stitching on the front (hence the different colours in the top and bottom rows). It’s very… rustic. The background fabric is more of the same Essex linen. I just machine stitched the hexies onto the linen (and did a slightly appalling job of it – I’m still getting used to the new Juki machine and don’t have great control over where things are lining up with the needle). I made the bag an inch taller than recommended because the stitch was a little tall and I wanted to be sure there’d be some visible “grass” under her feet, but you really notice in this photo how off the proportions are – I really should have widened it out by an inch to compensate.

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We always fill up the pouches a bit with various different things. I was hoping to get something else made, but my plans fell apart, so instead I loaded it up with a little extra candy (originally I was only going to include the orange marzipan bar and some grapefruit TicTacs, which nobody in my house will admit to opening, but nevertheless were partially eaten… perhaps by the world’s most clever, invisible mouse?): some orange gummy candies, lemonade gummies, the aforementioned orange marzipan, and (because I’m ever so clever) Moda Candy.

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Lemon, lime, orange…

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And then the rest of the crafty goodies. Some fabric – I’ll post another photo of all the scraps in the bundle on the left – including a bunch of citrus-coloured dot and gingham charm squares, three rolls of citrus-coloured washi tape (the orange one is a different brand from the other two, hence the size difference), a roll of grapefruit coloured baker’s twine, and to appease my sister who is annoyed with me for buying more floss instead of just finding a way to use what we’ve got… I included all the remnants of the floss I used on the Lulu Lemon-Lime stitch.

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This is the bundle of fabric scraps. Some of them are just off-cuts from the fabrics I used in the construction of the pouch. The others are all just scraps straight from my scrap bin that I thought were in appropriate colours. They’re not terribly visible, but Mari-Ann/RockIslander who hosted this swap sent me the little chicken fabric just so that I could turn around and send it to my swap partner. Sweetest person ever :D And finally, the yellow on top of the centre column of fabric is a print from Leah Duncan’s Maya line, which my partner once upon a time was looking for. That was a long time ago, so she’s probably found all she needs by now, but I included it specifically because I knew she liked it. My partner seemed to be pretty quiet in the various places I knew to find her online, so I’m really hoping that what I made for her will appeal.

In any case, in spite of my ability to find flaws in pretty much everything I do, I really do love how his pouch turned out.


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The 221B bag

So I’ve been on a bit of a blog holiday. I didn’t really mean to be – I’ve got four draft posts of things to show – but I’ve been drowning in things to do lately and haven’t been managing my time very well, so blogging was the bit that went by the wayside. (Even that Sunday Stash post the other day? That was written ages ago and then scheduled. It wouldn’t have been posted at all if not for that.)

This is probably the least important thing I’ve got to talk about right now, which means it is the easiest to talk about and therefore the one that will get talked about. Today (Yesterday, at this point – I fell asleep before I finished writing this entry!) I went to Calgary Comic-Con. I’ve never been to any kind of comic-con before, I’m not really into costuming or comics particularly and I think paying for photos/autographs is kind of lame (sorry if you’re into it, but I’ve never put too much stock in celebrity, which means I find it kind of appalling to think of paying for an experience that several hundred other people are also paying for – what’s the experience really?) and while I enjoy some fannish pursuits, they’re largely of the Easy Entry variety. Doctor Who, Harry Potter, Sherlock… there were so many more cosplayers for things I didn’t recognize even remotely, but who were probably among their people, so to speak.

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Anyway, there’s me in a terrible Instagram photo, dressed sort of… costume adjacent, if not in a costume exactly. In theory, you could say that I dressed up as 221b Baker Street from Sherlock, but since I don’t really do costumes I wanted the sort of costume that could be not a costume without much effort – take off the earrings and hide the bit on the scarf and it’s not a costume at all!

Comic-con was interesting, but I was super tired, so I’m sure that affected my response to it. I spent most of Thursday sewing my 221b bag, then slept for about three hours, got up and worked a night shift, came home by 8:15 AM, got ready, and left for the convention at 9 AM. So tired! I’m surprised I was still walking by the time we left because by that point I’d been on my feet for most of 15 hours. I’m surprised I didn’t crash into anything while I was walking because my eyes were trying to close too by the end.

Anyway, the bag. Even though I bought my ticket in January, naturally I didn’t actually do much by way of costume creation until the dead last minute. On Tuesday this week I washed and pressed my fabrics, then on Wednesday I cut out and started adding interfacing/fusible fleece to my pieces, but I only got so far:

Birdie Sling bag

At this point, there were still 4 pieces without interfacing and I hadn’t actually started any of the sewing. Patterns for things other than quilt tops always give me a bit of a fright – they often don’t make all kinds of sense to me and Amy Butler patterns in particular really set my brain into knots, but I got from there (the photo above) to here (the photo below) on Thursday:

221b Birdie Sling bag

Okay, Amy Butler patterns scare me, but this one – the Birdie Sling – wasn’t scary at all. It was easy, even for someone like me who can find a way to mess up any sort of non-quilt sewing pattern that gets put in front of me. It all came together perfectly and I couldn’t be happier with the finished bag. (Actually, yes I could be happier. The print on the fabric faded when I washed it so that my black straps/band around the top became way more intense than the black in the print. If I’d had a charcoal twill, it would have worked out perfectly, but I did not.) I suspect I’ll even make this pattern again, if I find a fabric I want to use for it. It’s easy to make, it looks fantastic finished, and it holds a TON of stuff.

The reason I call this the 221B bag is because that fabric on the base is the same print as the wallpaper in the lounge in 221b in BBC’s Sherlock. I bought it from Spoonflower in a cotton-linen blend, which was nice to sew with (and large enough that I could probably cut a second bag out of the leftovers), though the print seemed to fade unevenly in the wash. The proper wallpaper from the show, if you’re a fan, has blue stripes that fade into cream, but I thought it would be a bit more versatile without the blue (you can buy it with the blue stripe though). I had planned to stitch a yellow smiley face into the black band, but to be honest I couldn’t bring myself to ruin it that way — it looks good enough to use every day without it and if it had the smiley face, I wouldn’t. I think what I need is to get a badge/pin with the yellow smiley that I could just pin on if I were going somewhere like Comic-con again.

Birdie Sling Bag Interior

Please forgive these terrible photos – it was getting dark when I took them (yesterday) and then it snowed all day today and was kind of dreary out. (Yes. It’s almost May and we had a day long snow. It’s all been melting as it hits the pavement, but I bet there’ll be a dusting of it at least when I go to work in the morning.)

On the interior, I used an Amy Butler print, largely because it was one of a few fabrics I had enough of, but also because I just really love that print and it gives me a way to use it. The print is Sketchbook Roses from her Alchemy line. It’s not terribly visible, but on the left I added a kind of lobster claw clasp – this is an enormous bag and I don’t want my keys getting lost in there!

221b Scarf

As for the rest of the “costume”, I also wore my 221B scarf, which I bought from Geekiana on Etsy and a pair of earrings I made out of the Sherlock and John charms I bought from Red Bow Tie (also on Etsy, but currently on vacation). I put the IOU apple onto a bracelet chain, but I didn’t have any other charms to go with it (I’d have put on a Union Jack and… I don’t know, other things that apply) so I didn’t wear it.

Sherlock and Watson charms

I’m pretty sure Sherlock isn’t nerdy enough for Comic-con, but it was still a fun way to get at least a little bit into the spirit of things, since I’m not quite ready to go full on Batgirl or Lego Fig or Disney princess like so many people did.


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30/30 Sewing Challenge: Month End

You know, I keep thinking I should have more to show because I’ve spent SO MUCH time crafting this month, but so much of it was absorbed in the beginning of the month with the Radiant Orchid challenge mini-quilt, that once I was finished with that, nearly all my time went into making things I had to make – bee blocks and swap projects. Which, hey, nothing wrong with that, but I still have so much more I wanted to finish this month!

It’s the last day of March, for example, [or the first day of April, even... I fell asleep before I could finished editing this post yesterday] and I didn’t even touch my Gypsy Wife booklet! Not a single Gypsy Wife block sewn in March! But if I get them done by the weekend, I’m still linking up with Ashley at Wasn’t Quilt in a Day.

Beginnings of two #quilts -- lowish volume and loud for the #gypsywifequiltalong

This (rather dreadful Instagram photo in a too-dark room) is where both my Gypsy Wife quilts are at. I’m really, really wanting to get working on these, but that Pershing block is really kind of scaring me – I’ve been having issues with details lately and none of my blocks lately have been working out quite like I hope. Pershing is not a good one for when you’re feeling wibbly about your sewing skills.

I’m also six blocks behind on the Layer Cake Sampler Quiltalong! Six blocks!

Layer Cake Sampler QAL... so far...

This is where I’m at though! Loving how this is coming together, although I do feel a little bit like it’s too pink. I’ll have to wait till I have more blocks together, but maybe I’ll need to sash it in a dark purple or burgundy or something. I think I have a bunch of yardage from this line (Eva by Basic Grey), which was meant to be used as backing for a different Eva quilt-in-progress, but depending what the fabrics are, maybe I’ll be able to use it for finishing the quilt.

So what have I gotten done since finishing my Orchid quilt? Well… a couple bee blocks:

Stash Bee Hive #12 March Block Stash Bee Hive #12 March Block

Neither one of them turned out exactly as I’d hoped – I don’t know… the first one came together pretty well, but that second one is a mess of bad points and it’s a little too small and I was really not happy with it. But I kind of love the colours – that domino dot was a great match for that centre print, although I think it’s a lot more green than the recipient was looking for. In any case, I had changed the needle (and thread) in between sewing the first block and the second and it was just a fight to get anything to work properly. I’m not sure what’s the culprit – maybe the bobbin is wound crookedly, maybe the needle has a bad point or it’s slightly misshapen or the wrong size or maybe I’m a poor craftsman who is blaming her tools. In any case, I’m going to start swapping things out and see if something helps.

I also finished a few things for the 4S swap on Flickr… I don’t want to write a full post about those yet, but here is a shot of the drawstring bag I created and the pincushion I tucked in along with some other treats (fabric and candy and chocolate…):

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I feel like there must be more, but I’m drawing a blank on it, so I guess that’s what I’ve been up to with all my 30 minutes (and more) of crafting every day for the last while! Truly, the majority of the month was taken up with this guy, time hog that it was:

Radiant Orchid mini quilt

Linking up with Sarah at Berry Barn Designs for the 30/30 Sewing Challenge. In general I was pretty successful with the 30 minutes a day thing, I think I only missed once on a weekend when I was unexpectedly working nights (but had expected to have time off). It feels like not very much stuff, considering the time I put into it, but crafting really can be a huge time suck. I enjoy it, don’t get me wrong, but it is not a speedy thing, even when something moves along quickly.

Berry Barn Designs

Linking up also to WIP Wednesday at Needle and Thread Network and WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced and Let’s Bee Social at Sew Fresh Quilts:

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced Sew Fresh Quilts


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Radiant Orchid Mini-Quilt

It took me a long time to warm up to making a project for the 2014 Pantone Quilt Challenge – I didn’t have many purples in my stash, even fewer of them in that sort of reddish-pinky-purple that Radiant Orchid seems to be, and I just didn’t have any ideas. But then I read a blog post at Mary Corbet’s Needle ‘N Thread that introduced me to the hand over-dyed threads produced by Colour Complements. Mary was running a giveaway for threads from their Etsy shop and I got sucked into thread heaven, a place filled with pretty, pretty cotton and rayon, and I forgot the giveaway entirely: I just had to buy some thread immediately.

2014 Pantone Quilt Challenge...

I paired up my sampler pack of threads (three sizes of perle cotton, a rayon chainette, and another very fine rayon thread) with three shades of Kaffee Fassett shot-cotton – Grape, Granite, and Lilac. I choose very quiet fabrics because I wanted to try out something called Kantha quilting and I wanted the stitching to pop, rather than blend into a busy print background. Kantha is a type of embroidery used in parts of India and Bangladesh to give new life to old saris – women would stack up several layers of old, worn saris and stitch them together using a running stitch which could be done in long straight lines or could used to create patterns or pictures. Most of the newer kantha quilts I’ve seen are done exclusively with the running stitches running across the quilts with little extra decoration, but if you do a Google image search or even go to Wikipedia, you can see pictures of some of the more decorative patterns that can be made with Kantha quilting.

Radiant Orchid mini-quilt

I did a little bit of both types, I suppose, since I did largely just straight lines, but also interrupted myself to include a very literal interpretation of the Radiant Orchid challenge. (So literal that I also brought an orchid home so that I could do a triple orchid take – plant, representation of the plant, colour named after the plant.) Because I was working with a sampler pack of threads, I had a little of a lot of varieties of thread, but not a lot of any of them, so I did five repeating rows of (six) different threads, which I also hoped would give it a nice texture and maybe kind of draw the eye around with the different shades of purple and pink (and little splashes of gold) .

Straight Stitching

I stitched the whole thing without a hoop or pins or anything – it was small enough it didn’t feel like it needed much support to keep it together, though I did start with the rayon thread and stitch it every 1-inch or so to help stabilize it enough that I really really didn’t have to worry. I was surprised by how much (overall) I enjoyed the process of stitching – it felt like it should have been tedious, but I didn’t get tired of it until I was near the end and using the worst of the threads – a 100% polyester (which feels scratchy and horrible) and the very thick perle cottons, which my needle was resistant to threading and which then didn’t want to take more than a single stitch at a time. The sparkle chainette (the one with gold flecks) was also a bit difficult because it was incredibly stretchy: I started with a piece of thread the width of the cloth and somehow managed to stitch TWO full lines without starting another length of the stuff.

Orchids

I free-hand stitched the orchids following a tutorial from Drago Art. For the flowers, I used another variegated perle cotton, this one in a blue-green-purple blend, but I found it sunk back into the background too much, so I outlined a lot of it with a very pale lavender DMC floss. Unlike the rest of the stitches in the piece, that back stitch does NOT travel to the back of the quilt – it’s all on the surface. A third thread was used to stitch the stem – it’s maybe a little too bright, but I like it anyway, so we’ll pretend I didn’t say that.

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Anyway, this project absorbed a lot of my time throughout the first couple weeks in March, so much so that I feel like I should be sick of it now, but I’m pretty proud of how it all came out. It kind of dresses up that weird little nook in the strairwell/kitchen along with that print of one of Rodin’s Cambodian dancers and the actual orchids. My sister will likely hate the purple, so it won’t last there too long, I don’t imagine, but eventually it’ll go dress up my Mum’s house for spring.

This was finished on 17 March 2014 and stitched entirely by hand, by me. The binding was sewn to the front and hand-stitched to the back. The fabrics are all Kaffee Fassett shot cottons: the binding is “Grape,” the front is “Granite” and the back is “Lilac.” The threads are all from Colour Complements, except for one shiny purple one (directly above the gold flecked rayon) and the orchid outline, which are both DMC, though one is cotton and the other a horrible, scratchy Polyester. (Seriously, I don’t recommend it.) The quilt measures 15.5″ x 19″ and it is nameless, as are most of my quilts.

This was also my Lovely Year of Finishes Goal for March (goal post here), so success on all fronts!

2014 Pantone Quilt Challenge My Button


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30/30 Challenge – Week Two

So the sewing for 30(plus) minutes a day thing is going over pretty well! Unfortunately, I spent most of my time working on the same project, so it’s not a very exciting show and tell for the week:

More Radiant Orchid

It is done now, though, so it should be more interesting from here on out! But yes, this is my Pantone Quilt Challenge project… but I’m still keeping it under-wraps, a bit, because I want to stage my photos a little bit and I need to either do it at work (where I have access to some props, and thus I need to do it in the middle of the night while no one is there to wonder WTF I’m doing and why they’re paying me to do it) or I need to buy one prop in particular and bring it home and do it on a sunny morning. So.. all you get to see still is some rows of stitching and my four finished corners. I love when stitching binding and you round that last corner and there’s just a few more inches of binding to go. Best part of a project.

I also stitched up another two blocks for the Layer Cake Sampler Quiltalong:

Layer Cake Sampler Quiltalong

I LOVE this block. (I don’t love the wrinkling, though.)

Layer Cake Sampler Quiltalong

I had a slightly more frustrating time with this block – it just wanted to wrinkle all over the place and the corners wouldn’t line up and it drove me slightly made in general. But I’m trying to just let it go! It won’t be horrible in the finished quilt, it’ll just be another block.

I’m still two blocks behind and I was going to stitch them up on Monday, but I got distracted by the prospect of making a sample drawstring bag for the 4S Swap (Simple and Sweet Scrappy Swap) on Flickr. I had some purple fabric in a heap near my sewing table (rejects from early in the Pantone Quilt Challenge process) and really, really wanted to use that Anna Maria Horner fabric from Dowry:

Drawstring Bag

It’s such an easy little project to make, and I think every single one I’ve seen has looked great. I added a little flange to mine to emphasize some of the blue in the print and to tie it all in to the lining fabric. It might have been a slightly brighter blue than it needed to be — the perils of choosing fabrics in a mostly dark/ill-lit room — but I love it anyway. I don’t know what I’m going to do with this bag, probably I’ll give it away eventually, but making it was all for my enjoyment, and I did.

Linking up to The Needle and Thread Network and WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced and 30/30 Sewing Challenge at Berry Barn Designs and Let’s Bee Social at Sew Fresh Quilts:
WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced Berry Barn Designs Sew Fresh Quilts


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ALYOF: I got sunshine…

So back at the beginning of the month, I set a few goals for myself:

1. Two bee blocks
2. Sunshine Pillow
3. Cat Faces
4. Confetti Go Lucky quilt

The one that I cared about the most, that I set as my goal for A Lovely Year of Finishes was the Sunshine pillow. And it got done slightly last minute, but done it is!

Sunshine cushion

This cushion cover was based on Katherine from Sew Me Something Good‘s Joy cushion that she created for Blogathon Canada last November. I don’t generally decorate with holiday things, but I really liked the idea of the pattern, so I kind of thought about it and sat on it and downloaded the pattern from Craftsy anyway (I think this will take you where you can get it…) and then I’d ordered some fabric from a shop that was giving away mini charm packs with purchases over x-amount of dollars, and I’d told the shop owner to surprise me. She sent me Kate Spain’s Sunnyside and I thought… sunshine? Yeah, I can do something with that.

As a bit of an aside, I was hugely amused by how few “sunny” prints are actually in the Sunnyside line: there are eleven or twelve that you could call orange or yellow, and then 28ish that are green, blue, or grey. Anyway, I arranged them from orange through yellow then green and teal to indigo from the left and light blue to grey to indigo from the right so that it would be like the sunshine was pushing in on a cloudy day, pushing away the clouds and wind and rain. The gold is just a Kona cotton that I had enough of and which worked the best of all the yellows I have. It was dark enough to provide some contrast with the lighter yellows in the line and didn’t seem to actively clash with any of the other colours (though that teal in the raindrop print is a near thing… it’s a bit of a strange colour choice in the line).

If you go check out Katherine’s Joy pillow, you’ll notice that I got lazy pretty quickly. I couldn’t settle on two different fabrics for the words, so that I could have the shadowed/layered effect used in the pattern, so I decided just to use one and then have a contrasting stitch instead. But then all I had was a copper coloured thread (I don’t have a lot of coloured threads) and it didn’t really contrast as much as I’d hoped.

I got...

Anyway, forget that, who cares?! It gets the job done and it doesn’t look bad. Let’s talk about embroidery instead – I loved the font I picked for the embroidery. I forget what it’s called, but I need to find it again because I’m totally using it for my next embroidery pattern (which will be part of the As You Wish quilt and stitch-along at Fandom in Stitches… and let me further interrupt myself to say how AMAZING the patterns are for this project… I’m not working on it right now because All The Projects Ever, but I’m totally keeping this one as a future thought because LOVE, and if you’re a fan of The Princess Bride – and how could you not be? Westley! Inigo Montoya! As You Wish! Giants! Adventure! True Love! (is this a kissing book?) – then you’ll love it all too). Anyway. Font. I love the shape of the letters, the curves and it stitched up beautifully with my favourite stitch, the split stitch (it kind of got mashed down when I pressed it the last time — forgot to put a towel under it!), and I think it’d work well with a stem stitch too (though maybe not with a back stitch, which a lot of people love, but the curves might be too tight for that). In another bout of laziness, I didn’t want to go buy thread that would work for the pillow, so I just used something I had – “Bell Pull” from Sublime Stitching’s Parlour colour palette – which is too near a match to the background fabric. But the stitching came out nicely and it’s readable if you’re not half-way across the room, so forget that, who cares?! It gets the job done and it doesn’t look bad.

You know what else gets the job done and doesn’t look (too) bad?

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Grey zipper! If you were around on WIP Wednesday, then you know why I used a grey zipper. But just in case you haven’t seen it, here’s the original gold one:

Sigh.

This is why we shouldn’t sew when we’re tired. I didn’t want to go back to the store to buy another 22″ gold zipper (it’s an 18-in pillow, but that’s the size I had to buy to get a gold one that wasn’t ludicrously small for the size of the pillow), so I went with grey. I really should have made a flap to hide the zipper, but after sewing my zipper closed and then cutting off the business end of the zip, I thought I’d better stay away from anything more complicated than just stitching fabric onto the zipper and then top stitching it to make it look nice. The grey line isn’t horrible, but it sure does stand out, doesn’t it? Anyway, the fabric is Hive in Maize from Joel Dewberry’s Bungalow line. I love this print and am slightly appalled that I wasted so much of it on the back of a cushion (why didn’t I just use a solid gold? It’s not like I didn’t have more of the gold from the front of the cushion!) and I want to buy more! more! more! But I am supposed to be fabric fasting (and I totally crashed and burned today, but that’s a story for another day), so I’d better hold off and hope it’s still available in 5 months.

Anyway, back to my generalized laziness with this project. I really wanted to try out Katherine’s binding method for the edge of the cushion, but lazy. So very lazy. I even had a pretty orange fabric picked out that would have helped tie in the orange from the words, but nope. Lazy.

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The quilting is kind of lazy too – a lot of organic lines, where organic means “can’t be arsed to make it straight, so I’m going to make it curve and call it intentional”. It’s a look I like though, so that helps! I had very little copper thread left, so I used up the spool and then used a basic off-white for the rest of the quilting. I also did a very, very quick and dirty stitch in the ditch around the four-patches, which I’ve very helpfully shown off in this picture where I just didn’t, couldn’t, you’re not gonna make me! stay inside the lines.

But you know what, for all my picking apart of the bits and pieces I don’t think are as awesome as they could be, I really love how this cushion came out. It makes me smile and it’s warmer and brighter than this miserable snowy winter we’re trudging our way through. This part of the winter (late January/February) is always sort of the worst for me.. it’s the bit when it feels the most never-ending, like we’re going to have snow for the rest of eternity because Winter isn’t just Coming, it’s already here and it’s got no plans of letting go. So a happy bit of sunshine is just the thing.

Linking up with TGIFF, hosted this week by the lovely Jo at Riddle & Whimsy and A Lovely Year of Finishes with Melissa at Sew Bittersweet Designs and Shanna at Fiber of All Sorts:

A Lovely Year of Finishes


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WIP Wednesday: Little Things

Naturally because I have a bit of a goal list for the month, I’ve so far only worked on completely different things. Two of them totally new!

The simplest thing on my ginormous To-Do list was to add borders to two finished baby sized tops and send them away for a Linus group to quilt and gift to a child in need. I even had the borders cut.

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Sure, the lighting is horrible. But so are the borders! I don’t hate all borders on sight (like some capital-m Modern Quilters seem to), but there’s a time and a place for all things, and these two quilts were not the place for borders, apparently.

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Thing was, they weren’t very square and if you have a not-very-square quilt, adding properly sized borders can really help fix a multitude of sins. But they’re just so awful looking! I couldn’t decide if I should take them off or leave them on, and I left them in the end. I figure if the Linus group that gets them really hates them as much as me, they can trim off 2.25″ width to use as binding fabric (and be left with a skinnier border, that maybe wouldn’t look so bad?) or they can rip them off entirely or they can leave them on because maybe some kid somewhere will appreciate it anyway.

Anyway, after I got that done, I went digging through my drawers looking for a needle. I can’t remember what got me looking for one – I don’t think I had anything that needed hand-sewing – but I did and then I found a little embroidery project that I bought a while ago and never got around to making:

Mr Monkey Man

An embroidered monkey stuffie from Kiriki Press. They sell a sweet little collection of embroidered stuffie kits. This is one of the simplest ones – you only need to know chain stitch and running or back stitch to do the embroidery. I picked it up because I thought it was cute and because Kiriki is an independant Canadian company (and I want to support Canadian talent) and did I mention it’s cute? I’ve only been working on it a little here and there while watching tv, but then I haven’t watched anything in a few days now, so I’ve set him aside again. I’m determined to finish him this month, though, so to that end, I’m going to link up to &Stitches January finish-along. I have lots of other embroidery projects I could try to finish instead, but I’m feeling this one instead.

Potholders in Progress

I’m also working on some pot-holders out of that Christmas fabric I mentioned a couple days ago. I started out following a pot holder/hot pad tutorial, but I got distracted somewhere along the line and sort of did my own thing and then I thought how very boring it was (just this floral fabric on the front/heat reflective side, all that brown background fabric on the back side) so my brain went back to that original tutorial and thought I’d better add some kind of embellishment to break up the front a little.

So today I headed over to Fabricland and picked up a half metre each of those two crochet lace edgings – grand total of $1.13 – to test against the fabric. Neither matches quite exactly – in brighter lighting, the white is a much purer white than the fabric, which is a creamy yellow-based white and the beige is much too dark. (The beige does match the twill tape loops quite well.) But I have enough to do four hot pads, so I think I might just do two with the white and two with the beige and be done with it whether they match precisely or not.

So that’s what I’m working on! And then I need to get working on my bee blocks and some cat-faces…

Linking up to The Needle and Thread Network and WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced:
WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced


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2013 in Review

Sometimes I get a little… weird about how little I finish in a year. Or maybe just how few big things I finish in a year. I read a lot of blogs (like… a lot), and some people seem constantly to be producing New! Amazing! Gorgeous! things every time I turn around, and it’s just not the way I work. But I still occasionally get all wibbly about it, as if it matters or as if anyone cares or as if the Quilt Police are keeping count and will take away my crafter card for not being that prolific.

Back in January 2013, I posted a list of five quilty goals:
1. To finish all my Simply Solids bee blocks in a timely way – DONE
2. To finish all my LJ Birthday blocks in a timely way – DONE (I mean, the last two were late, but they were in the mail long before the end of the year)
3. To finish quilting the seven quilt tops in my closet – Well…. one down, six to go.
4. Don’t start anything new, except some wall-hangings for my mom – AHAHAAHAHAHAHA.
5. Work on some of my unfinished projects – See above.

And five embroidery goals, of which I did exactly none.

Anyway, here’s a couple of collages, with most of the year’s things:

2013 Quilt Blocks

Quilt blocks. A lot of quilt blocks. Not all of the quilt blocks though. There were more churn dashes I made for my own quilt that I didn’t photograph. And then all the blocks that went into a quilt top I haven’t photographed yet (for the Confetti Go Lucky quilt) and more of the Cat Face blocks, which I didn’t photograph. The Doctor Who ones probably shouldn’t be in there because I’ve made them into a quilt top, which just needs its last border, but I don’t have any photos of the completed top, so I put them all in here.

2013 - Quilts and Quilt Tops

It feels a little sadder looking at this collection of finished quilts and finished tops. There are two more than this (the aforementioned confetti go lucky and doctor who tops – well, Who is still in progress), but it’s the never finishing quilts that makes me feel like I’m not using my time wisely or whatever. I did get three quilts done to the binding and everything, and even though two of them are baby sized (and the other one was 90% finished with the clocked ticketed over from 2012 to 2013), I can still be proud of that. I am and always have been and probably always will be a slow quilter. I often get hung up right near the end. And I do quite a bit besides just quilts:

2013 - Minis & Flags

These are all minis of one sort or another. The two top left were for my mom. The hexagon one was for a Scrappy Swap. The three flags are were for Lac Megantic. The Ravenclaw was a gift for a crafty friend. (It could be used as a mug rug or a wall-hanging, as could the hexagon.)

2013 - All the Little Finishes

And I did a small mountain of baskets, zip pouches, pin cushions, pot holders, and assorted small bits and pieces. I think it’s all a pretty… respectable amount of stuff to have gotten done over the course of the year, so I really need to get over myself. (Also, the embroidery shown here is not complete – there were several more of those little smiley faced summer things, but I don’t have photographs of most of them. One of these days…)

So that’s all of 2013. More or less. Next post… plans for 2014. I think I’ll make a combination Fabric Fast/WIP list/Another Lovely Year of Finishes/2014 Goals post. Else it might be the longest lead into 2014 EVER.

(With special thanks to Big Huge Labs for the mosaic maker, even if I wish it could deal a little better with non-square photos — I think it should make them all the same height, then adjust the column width to the widest photo. But anyway, I don’t pay for the use of it, so I shouldn’t complain too hard about how it works.)


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Double Hourglass Quilt

This post has been a long time coming, but I didn’t like my photos when I first took them threeish weeks ago, and then kept putting off taking more.

Hourglass Quilt

Not that this is such a great photo, stuffed into the bannister of the stairs, but it seemed like the light was going to be good for once (and then it turned out kind of weirdly overlit anyway!). Winter in Canada. A whole season of everything being underlit or overlit via light bouncing off snow. Yay.

Anyway, I finished this one around Thanksgiving, maybe October 14 or 15. It’s a baby quilt, about 36″ x 43″. I didn’t follow a pattern, but this is a very jelly roll-friendly quilt, and a very easy one to make. (If anyone wants to know how, ask and I’ll let you know, but the gist is “sew two strips of fabric together, cut into triangles, rotate to create hourglasses, sew together into a square.”) This quilt was all tailored for an old friend who hadn’t been super into baby themed items for babies (you know, little teddy bears and… I don’t know, whatever), but I didn’t wind up sending it to her in the end. (And when she sent me a picture of her baby, he was wrapped up in something with cute child themed prints anyway – maybe she’s loosened up in the intervening years on the subject. It has been 6 or more years since we’ve seen one another!) I let my mom talk me into sending her the Star Surround quilt instead, so this one will get donated to a Linus group, which is a great way to use it regardless.

Hourglass Quilt

I talked a lot in the past about the fabric selection process for this quilt (here and here) and still wound up changing things a little (I took out one of the fabrics and swapped in a different one), but generally speaking it fits the colour scheme and the type of prints I was aiming for: orange, green, blue, and red using stripes, dots, and other geometric prints. The rope text print doesn’t quite fit, but I let it slide on the basis of it’s a baby quilt. The two Stof prints are certainly more organic than geometric, but they both created a striped effect so I thought that was okay too.

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The fabrics I had the most difficulties with were the off-white ones. As a general rule, I don’t ever put an off-white print together with a pure white print, because the off-white one comes out looking dingy and dirty in comparison. But I bought the fabric online and some of them were more off-white than I was expecting. I even added in the blue/off-white loop print to try to tie in the three existing off-whites. I kept telling myself that all colours go with white and thus off-white also should go with white. It’ll be fine, Kristel. Don’t worry about it so much and nobody will even notice! But it does bother me if I spend too much time looking at those particular prints. (Colours pop so beautifully against pure white, it seems a crime not to use it!)

Hourglass Backing & Binding

I used my favourite print for the binding – that green and navy print from Emily Herrick’s Technicolor line – but it really wasn’t a great choice for a binding (seriously – scroll up to a picture of the entire quilt!) because the look varies so much from one part of the print to another. Still, I love having that green around the edges (and my different coloured corner, of course, in the red and white stripe). The backing you can see is a flannel version of one of the chevrons I used on the front of the quilt – it’s also a larger size chevron. (I think that is a medium size, where the front has a small size on regular quilting cotton. All three of the chevron fabrics I used are from Riley Blake, anyway.) This picture also shows the quilting. I went pretty minimalist with this one and only quilted on the diagonal, a little more than a quarter inch away on either side of the seams. (The foot I use has a marking on the inside of the foot at the quarter inch, but I lined it up with the outside of the foot, so there’s probably an extra 1/8-inch.) I had thought about adding something more, maybe on the white parts of each block, but didn’t want to overkill it, and anyway I find quilts more comfortable when they’re not quilted too densely (though it sure does look good!).

I always have a list of things I’d like to change about the quilts I make – there’s always something in retrospect I wish I’d done better – and in this case, I wish I’d pressed all my seams open. I’m pretty back and forth on that one, but in this case, all those dark edges of fabric that got pushed toward the white (this happened when joining the rows, generally I press toward the dark if I don’t open my seams) show through. When I first took it out of the wash, I was terrified that it had bled because I could see all these kind of streaky bits of colour, but when you get up close, it’s just the fabric pressed under in those particular places. Sigh. Oh well, as far as things I’d like to change go, I’m happy that that’s my only real complaint. I’m usually pretty good at picking apart my flaws, so that one little thing isn’t so bad at all. (Okay. That and those off-white prints. I mean, seriously, designer types: why the off-whites? Do you want dingy looking fabric, because I don’t!)

Anyway, done is good. And that’s another finish for the year. I’m not a terribly prolific quilter (like some bloggers are) and I tend never to finish things, so every finished piece is a bit of a victory.

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