Work-in-Progress Girl

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Talk to Me Tuesday: 23 May 2017

Well, I haven’t updated in a while, but I’m well past due. I don’t get around to it all that often these days, but occasionally I make craft videos along with a group of friends who post weekly craft videos as a part of Talk to Me Tuesday. We started out on Livejournal here and now some of us are cross-posting our videos at a new WordPress location here.

In which I show an improv sewing machine cover-to-be and some quilt blocks.

The Antique Tile blocks are made using Trinket fabric (and some Basics) from Cotton + Steel. The red and white blocks are my three more of my Paper Piecing Vintage blocks – I’ll try to post about this one of these days! The pattern and quilt-along can be found at



Flags for Lac Mégantic

You might remember in the beginning of July there was a terrible disaster in Lac Mégantic, Québec when a train carrying oil derailed in the centre of the town, causing an enormous explosion that destroyed a huge part of city centre and killed 47 people. I think it was probably Canada’s largest disaster of that sort, but regardless, it was and still is heartbreaking and horrifying and something that will follow the survivors around for the rest of their lives.

Claire at Courtepointe Claire, a quilting shop in Laval, Québec is collecting flags to hang in Lac Mégantic, much like was done with To Boston With Love following the Boston bombing.

These are the flags I made to send away:

Flags for Lac Megantic

They asked for flags in blues and greens, avoiding reds, yellows, and oranges so much as possible. You can tell what was on top of my scrap bins because there was a lot of blues already there – most of these solids will also appear in my Simply Solids quilt top because they were still out after I cut fabric to send away to my bee mates.

Flags for Lac Megantic

This very simple dove was paper pieced using this pattern and bits of grey (and a scrap of gold Mendocino fabric). I probably should have used white for the dove – it’s so simple it just looks like a grey bird – but I found (from the Fleur de Lys) that white showed too much through without a batting.

Flags for Lac Megantic

This paper-pieced scrappy log cabin heart pattern came from SewHooked, here. All the fabrics in the heart came from my Modern Scrappy Bits swap. Some of them weren’t quilting cotton, but they worked for an application like this – I don’t think anyone needs to worry about how they’ll handle washing or how they’ll age. (I find a lot of thinner clothing-type fabrics will fall apart in quilts faster than cottons do. Or anyway, my favourite quilt that my mum made, a scrappy log cabin, had all the clothing-fabric strips rotted out long before the rest of it started to fall apart.)

Flags for Lac Megantic

And then the last one, a Fleur de Lys, which I chose especially because the Québec flag features four white fleurs-de-lys on a blue background. This pattern also was designed by Jennifer Ofenstein of SewHooked, and can be purchased here from her Craftsy shop. The last time I made this, I shrunk it a little to make it fit in a 5″ square, but this time I did it full-sized and I think it worked out better that way as I was able to get the little bar under the petals to work using the pattern (last time I pieced it traditionally, rather than curving it with paper piecing).

I hope Courtepointe Claire will receive a lot of flags to hang in Lac Mégantic – I’d have loved to make more, but feel like I’m running out of time, so I’m sending these now and if I have more time, I’ll make a few more. (They’d like to receive them by August 24, so I’m not entirely out of time, but I’m going to be short-staffed at work again for the next little while, so I’m not sure how much time I’ll spend sewing in the next little while.) It feels like such a small thing to do, but they’re a very long way off, and it’s something more concrete than just hoping for peace and comfort for the people in Lac Mégantic.


Pretty Pretty Pillowcase

So, you might remember from a couple years back the 1 Million Pillowcase Challenge set by All People Quilt. I hadn’t heard anything about it in a while, but recently I saw someone somewhere mention that they’d reached 500,000 and were starting the push for the next half million. (Which, holy cannoli, half a million handmade pillowcases!) Back when that started, I set out to make as many pillowcases as I could using mostly unwanted fabric from my stash – I made 19, which I donated through a local quilt shop, My Sewing Room. At the bottom of this post, I’m going to drop in photos of those 19 pillowcases, because I think they’re mostly pretty awesome. While I was on that pillowcase kick, I also made 2 for my older sister and 1 for a pillowcase swap set up by the lovely Ofenjen of Sewhooked.

In that pillowcase swap, I sent away a pillowcase that I didn’t photograph for some reason, though I’m fairly certain it was using the same fabrics as in these two cases that I donated:

Million Pillowcase Challenge - #5, 6

And in return, I received this pillowcase from Jennifer herself:

Owly Pillowcase

I’ve used this pillowcase every day since I received it and this weekend when my parents and younger sister were here, my little sister (who I sometimes call Squirtus, even though she’s nearly 30, and even though her name isn’t Curtis, which is really the only name deserving of the nickname Squirtus) thought it was cute and wanted to know where I got it from. So blah blah blah I told her I’d make her her own pillowcase, so long as she picked out her own fabric. (And so long as I had enough of the necessary fabric, I didn’t want to go buy anything.)

Today was another in a line of stressful and crappy days in my house and so I did some sewing therapy and made Squirtus’s pillowcase, even though I have other things I should have been doing. These pillowcases, made (like all the others) using Ofenjen’s Hotdog Pillowcase Tutorial, are so easy to make that it’s just the kind of thing you can do without thinking too hard when your brain is focussed elsewhere on other things, and it’s just the kind of thing that if you get lucky, you’ll eventually start focussing on so that you can get your brain off those other things.

Pretty Pretty Pillowcase

Woo! Action shot!

The two main fabrics are from the Cloud 9 Fabrics’ line Across the Pond, with the flange in a Joel Dewberry herringbone print (from Aviary 2?). It was dark and rainy out when I took the photograph in my bedroom, but I found a bit of natural light in my sewing room and this photo is a little less flash-happy than in the previous, if you’d like to see the fabric a little more like it’s supposed to be:

Pretty Pretty Pillowcase

As I mentioned, I made all these pillowcases using the Hot Dog Tutorial from Sewhooked, and I’ve always made them using the proportions mentioned in the tutorial – 24-26″ for the body and 9-12″ for the cuff – but I’ve also found them just a little long for my pillows. Most of my pillows are from IKEA and I’m not sure if they’re a different size from whatever is standard in the US, but they usually wind up with several spare inches of room in the pillowcase. This time I made the pillowcase using 24″ of the body fabric and 10″ of the cuff fabric, making 34″ rather than the recommended 36-38″ fabric, and it worked PERFECTLY for the IKEA pillows. (Though now I wonder if it’ll go home to Squirtus and be too small for whatever pillow she uses!)

Anyway, here’s a parade of pillowcases I made back in 2010. The first two, with the creepy faces, were made for my older sister, but the rest were donated for the Million Pillowcase Challenge.

Factory Girl pillowcases Million Pillowcase Challenge - #1-4
Million Pillowcase Challenge - #7 Million Pillowcase Challenge - #8, 9
Million Pillowcase Challenge - #13, 14, 15 Million Pillowcase Challenge - #12
Million Pillowcase Challenge - #10, 11 Million Pillowcase Challenge - #16 & 17
Million Pillowcase Challenge - #18 & 19

(Psst… if the numbers don’t add up, it’s because two are in the shot up top – I didn’t include them down here again – and there were actually three of the green ones in the third row. I had A LOT of that dark green solid. It’s the same fabric in the cases on the bottom row.)

[ETA: I can tell I’m stressy because after ages of not spending money on anything unnecessary and especially not on fabric for my stash… I spent like $150 on fabric/notions today without really noticing it. I hope I don’t have buyer’s remorse when it all shows up.]


Two Little Halloween(ish) Hooters

This is my slightly Halloween take on Ofenjen‘s Two Little Hooters pattern (available for purchase in hard copy here or via instant download here). I haven’t found the right branch yet, but I hope to find a broken branch, stick, or twig to slide into the hanging tabs (which may or may not get stitched down to the back) for hanging on the wall come Halloween season.

This is the first bit of paper-piecing I’ve done in quite a while. It was definitely more complicated than anything I’ve done in the past – typically I’ve done blocks which contain four units that are exactly the same and join together as a four-patch, whereas this is several unusually shaped units that fit together a bit more like a puzzle. But it was a nice reintroduction and not nearly so hard as I thought it would be. I did have some issues with the size where I didn’t get my units joined exactly as they should have been, so it was a touch too big in some places and a touch too small in others, but I was able to finesse things a little to get it together, and the centre came together only about 1/4-in smaller than it was supposed to be.

Because my centre wasn’t the “right” size, I let my brain get all CONFUSED and OMG about the borders and I couldn’t put two thoughts together to figure out how to make the border fit right, so if you go look at Ofenjen’s sample, you’ll see my border isn’t quite the same. Of course, the easy fix was just to make everything exactly as she said to, but then to scale down the length of the striped part of the border, but CONFUSED and OMG as I said, so I wound up whipping together something similar but not quite the same. Regardless, I think it came out pretty well. It’s adorable! And it has owls! Halloweenish owls!

I made this almost entirely with scraps. Both the oranges for the owls were fabrics bought for exchange blocks I’ve made in the past. I don’t know if I ever used the one that looks like bubbles, though I must have, since I fished rather small bits and pieces out of my bag of orange-peach-yellow fabric scraps. The other one, which looks a little like a painting, was bought entirely because it looked like the stars in Van Gogh’s Starry Nights painting (you’d need to see a larger piece to see the resemblance, though). In any case, the blues for the eyes/beaks were also scraps, and the variety of fabrics used for the branches (which were sometimes pieced mid-branch so I wouldn’t have to cut into anything) were all just blue-grey or very pale blue scraps from other previous projects.

The orange batik strips for the border also came from my scrap pile – I used that fabric in a quilt back for a quilt I haven’t shown online in at least 2, maybe 3, years. (I keep meaning to fish that one out and quilt it – the back is ready, the front is ready, I even have batting cut to size…) The binding fabric was the last bit of a Laura Gunn print from her Poppy line, which I used in a quilt top that I haven’t shown here, but isn’t finished anyway. (The top is finished, but I want to get it professionally quilted. Just haven’t made a move to find some one to do it yet.) There wasn’t quite enough scrap left to do the entire binding, so I pieced it with a little of a mottled blue-grey print, which is mostly behind the leaves of that plant in the top picture.

I quilted it all 1/4-in around all the shapes in the quilt, though in retrospect I think I should have gone much closer than the quarter-inch (either in “the ditch” or perhaps 1/8-inch). It works for quilting, even if it is very basic. I’d toyed with the idea of doing something more in the Halloween imagery line – like a big cob-web – using invisible thread, but I do hate working with that stuff, and I didn’t want to detract from the owls themselves.

In any case, I’m really happy with this finish. I think my mom will probably want it when she sees it, and I may even give it to her. (Although I really love that binding fabric and I might not want to give it away just because of that! I could make a dozen more Halloween Hooter wall-hangings, but none of them will be finished quite the same.)

Anyway, I finished this on 15 August 2011, and it’s about 15″x18″ in size. I feel like I’ve been posting more finishes and less Works-in-Progress the last while, but I sort of find it embarrassing when I think of how many unfinished things I have laying around, so I’ve been working harder to get some things done so I can mitigate that embarrassment at least a little. And that can only be a good thing.