Work-in-Progress Girl


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Sunday (Scrap) Stash

So last week for Sunday Stash I started the slow reveal of all the stuff I bought from Hawthorne Threads in the month of Misbehaving March (I’ve decided it needs a name – February Fabric Fast Fail and Misbehaving March?). Part of it was due to a gift certificate from Michelle, but part of it was just me having grabby hands. Most of it was me having grabby hands, really, and I extended it by also buying some fabric from Warp and Weft, which remains one of the loveliest online fabric shops I’ve ever found. (Seriously, Esmari’s just got such interesting fabrics… things that you don’t really tend to find elsewhere. It’s a well-curated collection, I suppose.)

But today, I’m just going to keep on picking away at the Hawthorne Threads loot… I picked up a scrap bundle in the “Fresh” colourway. I’ve bought scrap packs from them quite a few times and for a long while now they’ve had them on sale – $6.99 for about 2 yards of scraps by weight – so it’s usually hard to resist. This time I got mostly larger scraps (some of these are over a quarter yard, close to a half yard I think, though I didn’t get out the ruler to check the width) and unfortunately I’m pretty split on liking it vs. not.

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Last week I showed you all those lime fabrics I bought… I felt a little like they continued the theme into my scrap pack choices! I am not the biggest fan of the Denyse Schmidt print, Pie Basket, from Hope Valley, but I think I’ve probably got a half yard of it in my stash somewhere! The print beside it, that lime green… poppy print feels like a Laura Gunn print, but I’m not sure that it is – the painted background says yes, but I can’t find confirmation anywhere. On the bottom left is Poppy Modern by Jane Dixon for Andover and on the right Turtle Parade by Patty Sloniger from her Les Amis collection. I just.. I wish Hawthorne Threads had separate packs for children’s fabrics. They’re cute, those turtles, but what on earth am I going to do with a 6″ x WOF strip of turtle fabric? A lot of that children’s fabric that I gave away on the last Sew Mama Sew Giveaway day actually came from Hawthorne Threads scrap packs.

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I really don’t like that big chevron top left. It’s from Riley Blake and the colours are probably significant to some American university or football team or both, but they’re horrible. That yellow and that green do not belong together on the same giant chevron print. Next up is a print from Rashida Coleman Hale’s Washi line… I don’t know what the name of it is, but I know it’s getting pretty hard to find. It’s cute, but you know… I never felt inspired to buy anything from that line. I’m certain I’ll use it, but I just didn’t care about it that much. And finally another chevron, this one from Robert Kaufman, though again I don’t know it’s name. I think I’m just bored of chevrons because meh. It’s rather too pink for me, though the green does liven it up a little, but on the whole I feel pretty meh about it.

The rest of this post is going to be devoted to the fabric and scraps that Mari-Ann (@rockislander on Instagram) sent me in exchange for a bunch of Mendocino scraps I sent to her. I think some of this she sent me just because, but we both left feeling like we’d got the better end of the deal, so I think that’s a sign of a pretty good swap.

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I don’t know what almost any of these are, though if anyone is particularly curious, I might be able to find out if you ask. My single favourite piece is the second in from the right on the top row. Love that one. If you go see my March Gypsy Wife blocks, you’ll see a bunch of these fabrics in action — the swap was kind of set up so that she would send me things I’d be able to use in the Gypsy Wife quilt, either bright fabrics like this, or more muted ones for my Lower Volume version.

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Again, I don’t know the names of any of this stuff, but they’re going to be great for the quiet Gypsy Wife. When Mari-Ann was showing me fabrics that she could send, I was surprised by how easy it was to love love love the bright fabrics and how much less easy it was with the low volume. I like every one of these fabrics, but they sure don’t set me on fire the way that hot pink one up above does. Maybe that’s why I keep thinking I have no low volume fabrics – they just sink back into the background until I forget they exist, even when I think they’re lovely.

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Old School Tula Pink! So old school it’s printed by Moda, this print is from her Hushabye line and when it came out I kept wibbling over it because I couldn’t figure out why or if I liked it at all and I never bought it, in any case, but now I have a half yard of it, so I’m going to have to find something fun and interesting to do with it!

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And finally, the awesome and luscious and wonderful Hive in Turquoise from Patty Young’s Flora and Fauna line, another oldie but goodie that nearly passed me by back in the day. I bought a bunch of it in a couple of the colours, but for some reason never bought any of the turquoise. Clearly I was nuts because this is so awesome.

Linking up with Molli Sparkles for Sunday Stash!

Tune back in next week for even more from my March Hawthorne Threads purchases. I’m trying (trying!) to let it be enough to talk about fabric I bought last month, so that I don’t break down and buy even more fabric this month. I’ve sort of decided I need to adjust my goal as far as this fabric diet goes, so that instead of trying to buy nothing just for the pat-myself-on-the-back of it, I need to have a particular goal in mind. And that goal is a new sewing machine.

I’ve wanted a new sewing machine for ages, but for a long time I worried that I’d give up on the sewing and then I’d have an expensive machine I never looked at. And then I started thinking, well, the one I’ve got isn’t special, but it sure does work and I couldn’t justify buying a second machine when the first one was functional. But facts is facts and I’d like a machine with at least one or two bells and whistles. My current machine is like… wood blocks and hand claps, so even just one bell and one whistle… I could be happy with that. So the new goal is… try not to buy fabric until the end of August (my birthday is at the end of August, so it feels like a good time to treat myself), and if I’m successful, then I’ll buy the new sewing machine then, rather than waiting until next year, which had kind of been my loose plan.

When I say one bell and one whistle…. that’s because I want a machine that’s pretty low tech, compared to some of what is out there. I’ve been leaning more and more towards getting a straight-stitch only machine. If I still have my old machine, I can use that for zig-zag if I need it (and I rarely use it, to be honest). The couple straight-stitch only machines I’ve read about – I haven’t sewn on one yet – have more harp space and needle down functions and come with an extension table (a much larger one than my current machine has) and more useful to me accessories and so on. They require a little more fiddling – you need to oil them frequently and you have to do all the tension adjustments manually (which I already do anyway) – but I’ve never wanted to pay for a bunch of embroidery functions I would never use or 399 stitch combinations or whatever else. I like the thought of a machine that isn’t 90% computer because omg do computers cause problems or what? (Also, they’re a lot cheaper than machines with all the stitch bells and computer whistles.)

Locally I could buy a Brother PQ-1500S or I could buy a Juki TL2010Q from a store in British Columbia (I’d have to go visit my aunt in BC and bully her into driving me into Richmond to try it out). In general, I’d prefer to buy local, so I’ll likely go try out the Brother one day and see what I think, because I do want to try before I buy, and if I like it well enough, I won’t even bother about the Juki (where would I get it serviced? am I going to go back to BC if something goes wrong or pay shipping to get it back there every time?). I hope, when the day comes, that I wind up liking it as much as I’m hoping I will, because I sure do hate trying to learn anything about sewing machines online. There’s so much mixed information out there and without actually trying a machine, you can’t use online opinions for much… there are as many people who love machine X as people who hate it, and that seems to hold true across pretty much all brands and all price points.

Anyway, yes. Running off at the mouth. So that’s my new goal – stop buying fabric, buy a machine sooner. Otherwise it’ll be August 2015 before I do and I’ll likely wind up changing my mind another half dozen times about all the potential sewing machines I could buy.

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Sew Mama Sew Giveaway Day – Kiddie Fabric (Cotton)

Giveaway Day is now Closed. Winners will be notified Saturday December 14, 2013 have been notified and a post about the winners will be up as soon as I hear back from them. Thanks everyone for playing along!

Here were my winners:

cotton-malaysia

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Zura blogs at Sew Retro Chic and has a sweet little boy, so hopefully that fabric will be useful for something cute for him. Leigh Anne blogs at Ella’s Cottage.

It’s Giveaway Day! If you have stumbled across my blog somehow without knowing what Giveaway Day is… well, it’s a day (week, really) when Sew Mama Sew does a link-up of blogs where something crafty (handmade or supply related) is being given away. There are several categories: Handmade Baby and Kid Items, Handmade Accessories, Handmade for the Home, Sewing and Craft Supplies, and Handmade Bags two categories this year: Craft Supplies and Handmade Items. What used to take a day, has grown so large that it encompasses the whole week to let people have a chance to enter as many giveaways as possible. Stop by Sew Mama Sew to check out all the categories and to spend countless hours (seriously!) entering your name into the hundreds of awesome draws that are held.

NOTE: One of the following giveaways will be drawn for a Canadian or International (meaning not from the USA) entrant only. There are always a bunch of giveaways that are restricted to US residents only and while I don’t begrudge anyone the need to keep their mailing costs down (especially just before Christmas, which so many of us celebrate a little too extravagantly) I always like to have a giveaway that’s just for those of us who are typically excluded. I have one more giveaway here, which is open to entrants worldwide. You may enter either or both of the giveaways as you choose. For this giveaway, I will have Mr Random.org draw two numbers, one of which MUST belong to a Canadian or non-American entrant and then divvy up the prizes from there. If the first person drawn is from the US, then I will continue to draw numbers until I draw an non-US winner. The International recipient will get their first choice of prize, whatever is left will go to the second prize winner. (If MR Random draws two international names, the first name drawn will receive the prize pack of their choice.) The draw will be held on December 14, whenever I wake up, but I will only accept entries date stamped with December 13.

Kiddie Fabric

I’ve been on something of a mission this last few months to get rid of unwanted things. I’m having a really hard time getting rid of fabric – even the fabric I don’t want any more or know I won’t use! – but getting rid of children’s fabrics is pretty easy for me. If I make kid quilts, I prefer to use fabrics that aren’t necessarily baby or child focussed whenever possible. And yet somehow I’ve managed to amass quite a collection of children’s prints. Sometimes it was just because it was so damned cute. Sometimes it was just because it came in a scrap pack of fabric I purchased online. Sometimes I bought it with a particular project in mind (and then never finished it, most likely…). I’m splitting this pile of fabric up into three different bundles – two quilting cotton and one canvas (the canvas fabrics are being given away here). Both cotton packs are a mix of cut lengths (the dinosaur fabric is a half yard) and totally random scraps – some large, others small. I’ve broken the packs up by weight, so they’re both about the same amount of fabric (within about 15 gr).

Prize Pack One: Boy(ish) Prints + Blue Alphabet Panel

Kiddie Fabric

I don’t generally love to buy fabrics that are kind of… gender-specific – you know, cars and dinosaurs for boys, dolls and princesses for girls – but it’s awfully hard to find kids fabric that feels gender-neutral without just being green and yellow. I don’t actually mind putting pink or purple into a boy quilt or wrenches and robots into a quilt for a girl, but some people do get really bent out of shape if you cross the lines. (I gave a blue quilt to a friend once for her daughter and she actually questioned me on my choice of colour for a girl quilt! I felt like taking it back and still sometimes do, when I think about it!)

Kiddie Fabric

This Alphabet panel came from Deb Strain’s Love U line for Moda. I think it was designed with a soft alphabet book in mind. Each of the patches is about 6″ square, and the panel itself is 24″ by Width of Fabric.

Prize Pack Two: Girl(ish) prints + Green Alphabet Panel

Kiddie Fabric

I say that about not loving to do gender specific quilts, but it’s awfully hard to get away from anyway! Look how readily my fabrics split down gender lines. If I were to show you all the baby quilts I’ve ever made, at least two are boy specific (blue and brown with trucks on the backing or blue with little car fabrics) and two are girl specific (purple with mermaids or pink pink pink). (The rest could go either way, I think.) How do you feel about gendered fabrics? Do you think you should have a pink/blue divide? Do you mix a little of both regardless of the recipient? Or do you do like me and try to default to what the parents will prefer or avoid the situation altogether by not using children’s fabrics and pink/purple?

Kiddie Fabric Kiddie Fabric
Kiddie Fabric

The panel is exactly the same as the blue one – just a few close-ups to show what it looks like.

The Important Bit: What I need to know
1. Where are you from – please include your country, I don’t know what all the US short-forms are for state names.
2. Which prize pack would you prefer to win, one or two
3. Gendered fabrics/colours, what do you think? (This isn’t a requirement, I’m just interested to know people’s thoughts! Please don’t start an argument in the comments if you disagree with someone.) (Haha.. as if anyone has time for arguments, with all the giveaways to be entered!)

You do not need to include your email address in the body of your response. WordPress lets me require an email address from all people leaving comments, and I do, so it is accessible to me already.

Don’t forget to stop by my other giveaway here and Sew Mama Sew to enter as many more giveaways as you’ve got time to enter!

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Please also note that I will be editing your response to include a comment number, so as to save myself counting (and then counting again) through dozens (hundreds?) of comments to find the winners. If you do not tell me where you’re from, your response will NOT be included in the draw. Please forgive me if I don’t respond to your comment – I try to respond to every person who comments on my blog, but Giveaway Day has a tendency to make one’s email inbox explode, so I might not this go-around.


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Random Thursday

Is this supposed to be a link-up or is it just really… Random Thursday? Well, here’s a few random bits and bobs:

1. Next project

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I spent an embarrassingly long time sitting and staring at that one hexie yesterday trying to decide which way to go with it. The Paper Pieces package recommends sewing through the paper, but I want to use them multiple times and so I can’t help thinking it MUST be better for the paper not to sew through. The package does say you can keep reusing them anyway, but don’t they get all damaged in the corners where the stitches go? I don’t know. I’ve been planning today to watch a few videos on YouTube to see if I can decide which looks a more likely route for me.

2. Birdie Sling

Birdie Sling fabrics

Not sold on the denim yarn-dyed Essex Linen. I like it, a lot, but it feels too pale compared to the darker blue, maybe? (Special thanks to Michelle for her contribution to these fabrics being in my stash! :D) I thought from photos online that maybe it would be a darker blue than it is. I think a bag looks top-heavy if you put the darker fabric on top, and I could switch it so that the print fabric is on the bottom, but honestly I don’t want that much of the print on display. The bag on the pattern cover has a darker top band, but I think that large print on the bottom (with the smaller print up top) counter-acts the top-heaviness. I’ll have to think about it. I might have some Kona Nightfall fabric that would probably work (maybe?) and would definitely be darker. I don’t want to have to buy more fabric, in any case.

3. Leftover bits from something I’ve been working on.

Liberty Scraps

Liberty scraps. I’m not a big fan of Liberty (by and large I find their prints to be overly fussy, but there are a few I do like, even though they are fussy little florals), but wanted to see what the Tana Lawn was like to work with. I’m not 100% on board with the thing I made that generated these scraps (photos later – I want to be more happy with it before I share) and I wound up putting interfacing on the fabric because it was too light-weight (compared to the linen I paired it with). It also smelled a bit of bug spray – I have to assume that’s the fault of the seller, not the fabric maker, but I’ve been airing it out and can’t smell it any longer. (Also, I could smell bugspray at work the other day where no bug spray existed, so maybe I had some crossed wires in my brain…)

4. The solids Churn Dash.

Churn Dash

Just need a few more… Well, I need one more row’s worth, plus I’m waiting for 2 that will be sent to me. Love how this is coming together.

5. Some of my problem spots with the FMQ on the Star Surround project. If you have suggestions or advice for avoiding, please let me know!

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There’s lot of little things to nit pick with this one, which I will nit-pick in other photos instead, what I took this photo for was the kind of jerkiness of it. I didn’t get a smooth loop at all on that top one, which was just me needing to stop and get my hands in a better position (but just pushing through anyway). What really bothers me is the stitches just before it goes from a straight(ish) downward line into the loop – you can see a spot where I went from vertical almost immediately to horizontal, and although I mentioned this was a spot where I’d needed to reposition my hands, I ALSO had that same issue in places (sometimes) where I did come to a complete stop, and then started again. Sometimes I could get a smooth restart and then other times I’d go off in a completely different direction than I really “should” have. I KNOW that it’s not going to show much in the grand scheme of things (which is why I didn’t pick out any of my stitches, except where there were thread breaks and the one time I had a toe catcher), but I’d still rather learn to prevent it.

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Okay. Quarter-inch stitches vs sixteenth of an inch stitches. I know this is about the speed of my hands relative to the speed of the machine, but… how should I sew into a curve to keep my stitches smaller and more uniform? I know, practise. Yay, practise. But should I be giving it a little more gas at the beginning of the curve or easing off…? Move my hands faster as I go into that motion? I don’t know. As with all my other little issues, they seemed to hit intermittently – every time I congratulated myself for a particularly well done bit, I’d wind up doing something dumb 😀 (If I hadn’t used such garish fabrics, I’d show you my practise stitches! My best rows were the first two, before I started paying attention to what I was doing, before I remembered to turn my stitch length to zero even!, then they got progressively worse for a bit while I figured out what to do to improve things, and then they started to get better again. My one practise row of stippling is… appalling. There’s a reason I haven’t done it for realsies yet. Definitely need a whole practise sandwich just for that! But I want to go through Leah Day’s method of practising in stages – u shapes, lobster claw shapes, etc. – before joining it all up in a properly random stipple.)

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Okay, this doesn’t show super clearly because I could not convince my camera to focus on the problem spot rather than a spot an inch above it. But that particularly long looking stitch kind of in the bottom middle of the lower loop… My machine skipped a stitch. It only happened a couple times in the whole quilt, but I seem to remember reading something somewhere about what that means, but I can’t seem to find any information on the topic now! (I tried googling FMQ skipped stitch, but that didn’t help. It’s possible I just got bored of looking for answers, though, so I should probably search it again now that I’m not so focussed on getting that quilt done done done!) A couple of my skipped stitches, I went in with a needle and thread and couched the skipped bit (didn’t want to unpick, also didn’t want to leave a loop big enough for a kid’s finger to go into), but I didn’t do it every time. (It was awkward! And I don’t know how stable that couching will be, it’s not like with embroidery where you can secure it really easily on the back.)

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Okay. You can see a bit of this in most of my photos, but the bobbin thread is even more visible in this photo because the darker part of the variegated thread is on the bobbin thread here, with a very pale part on top. I always thought this was a tension issue, but my machine is set at almost the highest tension available. I didn’t adjust it to the higher setting because it didn’t do this all the time I was FMQing, so I wondered if something else was at work?

I don’t know. If any of you do much FMQing and have thoughts or suggestions, let me know! I know it’s not easy to diagnose when you can’t see what I do when I quilt, but I figured someone might have thoughts.

[Also, I’m linking up to Free Motion Quilting Friday at Leah Day’s The Free Motion Quilting Project. If you want to see the finished quilt which has all these flawed bits of stitching on them, you can find it here.]


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Modern Scrappy Bits Swap Received!

I’ve talked about the Modern Scrappy Bits Swap quite a few times now – probably 4 times for things sent away and this will be the fourth time for things received. But for anyone who doesn’t know and wants to or should know… it’s a swap run on Flickr right here, where we get the name/address and some information about our recipient and then we make something small for that person (out of scraps!), send them some kind of notion or other, a postcard from wherever we’re from, and a fat quarter’s worth of scraps. The whole thing has been a lot of fun and I think I’ve gotten better at figuring out what to make for people (my first two were… meh, my last two I’ve been pretty happy about). Anyway, last week I got my package in the mail, which came over from Balu51 who lives in Switzerland.

MSBSwap Received

She sent me a really fantastic collection of scraps in yellows, oranges, reds, low volume, text prints… all sorts of good things. Up top in the picture is a stack of blue strips that she sent for doing a string quilt, since someday I would like to do a string quilt with my scraps. (I always say that, I never get around to it… One day!) I was talking to Balu51 via FlickrMail and she sent me a link to a really neat idea for doing a string quilt, a Stripey Lonestar Quilt block. (I find that website kind of hit and miss as to whether or not it will work – hopefully it’ll load for you if you’re curious! If you Google the name, the picture of it will come up in any case.) So now I’ve got THAT idea in my head instead of the standard style that looks like boxes on point.

She also sent me two skeins of what I think is perle cotton (the label is in German! but I recall that ‘baumwolle’ means cotton so at a minimum, it’s a cotton thread) in very lovely Griffindor colours (though I don’t suppose that was her intent! I just have Harry Potter on the brain for some reason right now).

MSBSwap Received

Also, Balu51 made me this pretty mug rug, which is now hanging in my sewing room. I can’t remember what I’d said in my sign-up form, but it was probably something wishy-washy about kind of liking everything and being happy with whatever got made for me because I’m always so happy to get mail and especially hand-made mail. Which is always true, but also probably the most ANNOYING thing to read when you’re trying to figure out what to make for someone you don’t really know 😀 Anyway, this mug rug is beautiful. The blues sort of match my bedroom walls and I find it sort of soothing and lovely to look at. I love the hexagons and the fabrics and the satin ribbon binding (which looks amazing!). I had admired this mug rug when the photos appeared in the Flickr group, and I’m lucky to have it come home with me. This is my first bit of art that I’ve hung up in my sewing room (which has my brother-in-law’s hockey related artwork and memorabilia on the walls – it’s actually his office, I just wanted more space, so I pay a little more rent so that I could have it and his desk has been stuffed into their over-crowded bedroom) and it’s great to have something so nice to hang up in there.

I keep thinking I should sit out a round and get to work on some of MY projects instead of always finishing the things that will be sent away, but I LOVE participating in this swap. There’s always something beautiful to look at and long for in the photostream.