Thursday, June 30, 2011

Thanks, Moda!

When I bought my jelly roll for the Postage Stamp Quilt Along, I found 2 bad strips in the bunch. One of them looked to have come from the end of the bolt, so 1 long edge was jagged and clearly not 2.5" wide. The other strip had several folds in it, so the width varied along the strip.
It just happened the the jelly roll I chose had 42 strips in it, and I only needed 40. So I set the 2 bad strips aside and got sewing. One day  I remembered to take a picture of the strips, and I sent it on to Moda customer service. I didn't expect anything to come of it, but I wanted to tell them about the issue.
Well, within hours I had a rely to my email, with an offer to send me a complimentary jelly roll!
A few days later my package arrived, and I was SO excited to find this inside:
I *adore* this fabric line. I even have a charm pack tucked away, waiting for an idea to strike me. So now it looks like I will have even more to play with!
I was really impressed with the customer service at Moda, and I felt that they went above and beyond. Thank You, Moda!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Oh the places you'll go!

A few weeks ago I found out that a really close friend was moving so that she and her kids could be closer to her family. I was really frustrated to be stuck so far away from her, and I wanted to find a way to help her out. She has a lot of local support with packing, childcare, etc. so I knew people looking out for her. I decided that I would send her a fun package, because she and the kids could definitely use a little pick-me-up.
First I ran to Jimmy John's and got a gift card, so she could splurge on some yummy sandwiches when she didn't feel like eating at home.
Then Addy and I went to Target to browse the toy section. My goal was to find a few things for the kids to play with while my friend was busy packing, making phone calls, etc.
We ended up with sidewalk chalk, playdough and accessories, and a few other random little things.
I was all ready to head straight to the post office, but something happened and we didn't make it that day. Then Addy started to feel sick, so the trip was pushed off a few more days. One of those days Addy took a mid-day nap, so I snuck down to my sewing area and whipped up these bags. I made a small bag for the chalk and a larger bag for the playdough and accessories. The bag fronts have clear plastic windows so you can see what's in the bag, and the top is a draw string. They are perfect for little hands!
(Fabric is Dr. Seuss)
I hope the kids enjoy the toys, and they bring a little fun into the stressful mess of packing and moving!

Monday, June 27, 2011

To the library we go!

Seattle has some really great libraries, and they are tucked in the middle of neighborhoods which just makes them more fun and convenient to visit! After just 1 visit I knew that Addy needed a library bag-somewhere to store her library books, the receipt with the due date, and her library card. So I filed that in the back of my mind.
The a few days later we were wandering through JoAnn's and I found a cute mermaid iron-on. I had no idea what I'd do with it, but I knew Addy would love it.
Later when I was perusing my fabric stash for bag options, I remembered a cute pirate/hula girl print that I had been saving. Luckily Addy loved the print, too! I got to work finding some coordinates, and ultimately decided to pick up the pink polka dot from JoAnn's. Pattern is a freebie tutorial from Anna at Noodlehead!
For the outside pocket, I added the mermaid patch and some jumbo ric-rac along the top. I thought this would make a great place to store the receipt that includes the book titles and their due dates.
I added an inside pocket that has a velcro closure.
It's just the right size for a library card, and the velcro keeps the card nice and secure!
One of the things that drew me to this bag pattern was the binding on the outside of the bag. Typically I would machine sew 1 side of the binding, and then turn the binding to hand stitch the other side. But I decided to experiment with machine stitching using a zig zag this time. I was able to attach the binding all in 1 step, and the zig zag turned out really well on both sides! I think I'll be doing this more often! (Although I will stick with hand sewing my quilt binding. :)  )
The only other alteration I made, which isn't really evident in these photos, is that I used a webbing for my handles. I cut a strip of fabric about 3 times the width of the  webbing, iron one long edge under about 1/2", wrap the fabric around the webbing and sew down along the turned under edge. It makes a really sturdy handle, and the handle still matches the rest of the bag!
Now we're all ready for our next library trip! We have 6 books to go in the summer reading program, and Addy is pretty excited about that!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

FWQAL - My first few blocks!

If you're just hoping over, check out this post for an explanation of how I prepare my paper templates and use them to cut my fabric.

I wanted to get started on a few blocks, but I don't yet have the solids that I plan to use. My plan is to work through the blocks in numberical order beginning with #1, but I chose #1 and #3 as my first two blocks because I wasn't using solids in either of them.
Left: #1, Attic Windows
Right: #3, Basket Weave (I arranged my fabrics in a different order than in the book)
It was really fun to make these little guys (6.5" unfinished), and I love, love, love this fabric line. I'm hoping to stretch the 25 fat quarters along with solids to make the queen size quilt for our bed. The idea of a Christmas bed quilt just makes me so happy!

Fabric is Holiday Happy by Monica Solorio-Snow (Happy Zombie) for Lecien.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Farmer's Wife QAL - Using templates!

I seriously considered ditching the templates and working out the math for each block as I go along. I love math, and I know that my work is more accurate when I rotary cut my pieces. But I wanted to keep in the spirit of this project, so I'm using the templates from the book. I hand pieced and quilted my first quilt using templates, so this process isn't new to me.
This time around, I am using my rotary cutter to cut around the templates and I'm machine piecing my blocks. I thought I'd share the process that I use, first I will go through how I prep my templates:

Thin Cardboard (i.e. cereal boxes)
Spray Adhesive
Rotary Cutter - it's best to use a separate blade for paper

*A member of the FWQAL flickr group graciously combined all of the book templates onto 15 pages. I used these templates printed at 100% and they are measuring up great! If you need help finding the template document in flickr, let me know. This is not meant to be a substitute for purchasing the book, however. :)
 Start by spraying one side of the cardboard with the spray adhesive (I think the templates stick best to the unprinted side of the cardboard). I did this outside. Some people spray the templates and stick them down. I hate getting the adhesive on my fingers, b/c it is tough to get off. So I spray the cardboard!
Take the cardboard inside and lay your templates out. I don't like to lay any of my templates over the folds in the cardboard. As you lay each piece down, smooth it over with your finger. If there are bumps or wrinkles, you can pull the piece back up and try again. I find it pretty easy to smooth out the bumps without pulling the pieces back up, though.
Wait a few minutes before cutting the templates with your rotary cutter, that will minimize the adhesive that sticks to your ruler. (Adversely, it's best to stick your templates down immediately. Typically spray adhesive is permanent only right after it's sprayed.)
When I cut my templates, I line up the solid SEWING line on each template with the 1/4" line on my ruler. That ensures that I have an accurate seam allowance, regardless of the dashed/cutting lines. (See the red arrows below pointing to the solid SEWING lines.)
 In the pic below, you can see where my ruler is with respect to the dashed/cutting line. Trim all sides of the template the same way. To trim the funky corners like you see on the triangles, I just eyeballed it. You can use a ruler, though.
 This is how the edges of my templates looked after trimming.
 Continue until you have a stack of pretty templates! (I cut all of the templates for my first 8 blocks to get me caught up with the group, and in the future I'm planning on cutting my templates as I need them each week.)

Now that the templates are ready, I will go through how I cut my pieces using the templates and a rotary cutter and ruler.
Masking Tape
Rotary Cutter and Mat - switch out your "paper" blade at this point
For reference, I chose the Big Dipper block for this tutorial. It only requires one template!
To start, make a loop with masking tape and stick the loop to the back of the template.
Now stick the template onto the fabric. I cut 4 layers at a time here.
Line your ruler up along one edge of the template. I line up the solid SEWING line on the template with the 1/4" mark on my ruler.
And trim!
Repeat on all remaining sides (don't trim those funky corners yet!).
Now to trim the corners, I don't use a ruler. I just set my rotary cutter on the edge of the corner and press down. I try not to roll my cutter around a lot, because I want a small, clean cut.
Here's my triangle with 1 part of the corner trimmed.
Repeat with the little bit that is remaining. Line up the rotary cutter, and press down.
Repeat until all of your pieces are cut, and piece as desired! You may need to use a fresh piece of masking tape after a few templates. If the template isn't staying put on the fabric, use fresh tape. You don't want the templates moving around!

I've seen a few blog posts now where people are questioning the funky corners on the pieces. Fussy Cut explains it really well in this post, scroll down for the picture and explanation. They really do improve accuracy in piecing!

Up next, my first few blocks!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

I caved...

Have you seen all of the excitement in blogland over the Farmer's Wife Quilt Along? The hosts are mrsmcporkchop and fussy cut, and here's the flickr group.
I'm using my stash of Holiday Happy by Monica Solorio-Snow for Lecien (along with some solids to stretch this pretty stack for 111 blocks!). This line came out 2 Christmases ago, and I fell in love with it instantly. I was lucky enough to win the fq bundle from Monica's blog, Happy Zombie. I'm so excited to finally find just the right project for these pretties!
Some of my favorites:
I'll post my blocks as I go along, and I'll try to include tips that I find helpful. If you're planning on quilting along but have a fear of templates, come back tomorrow because I going to take you through the process that I use for creating templates, prepping them, and cutting the fabric.
Now what do ya say, are you gonna quilt along too? :)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

What's old is new again - the master bedroom!

A few weeks ago I was changing the sheets on our bed when Matt happened to come in the room. I wanted to take our bed quilt down to the dryer to "fluff" it in an attempt to remove some of the dog hair (yes, it really does work, sort of). As I was walking out of the room, Matt suggested that I pull out one of the other queen size quilts that we have. I was ready for a change, and I wanted to try to envision the room in a way that would work for any of the bed quilts that we have. So I pulled out the quilt that I made for the guest room in our last house.
Our "new" bed:
 A better shot of the quilt:
 My favorite pillow! I used texture magic for the center section:
A log cabin pillow: 
 Detailed shot of one of the ruffled logs:
 A selvedge pillow:
 Back of the selvedge pillow (all pillows are envelope style with button closures):
In the above picture you can also see the straight line quilting that I did on the quilt. I quilted this on a frame, and I think the quilting may have actually taken longer than it would have on a regular machine! I estimated about 8 hours of quilting total.
I originally posted about this quilt here!

Monday, June 20, 2011

What's old is new again - the kitchen!

Two houses ago now I used the Posh fabric line by Chez Moi for Moda to redecorate our kitchen. When we sold the house, I left most of the window valances, but I still had a table topper and a small quilt that I kept on the island.
In our next house, I thought I'd use those pieces in our guest room, but then another fabric line caught my eye. So the table topper and mini quilt were stored away.
Which brings us to this house! Our kitchen in Seattle was a pale minty green color when we moved in. I like the color, but we were planning on painting it something different. And then I noticed that the 3 light fixtures in the kitchen have the same green accent color in them. We are renting, so painting the fixtures was out of the question. And buying new fixtures while storing the originals seemed like a silly idea. So I decided to work with the green...and that's when I remembered that I had a few totes of quilts and table toppers in the basement.
Most of what I found was seasonal, but I also found the perfect accents for the green kitchen!
The island and Addy's table:
 Addy's little  table with the mini quilt:
 The island again:
 The other side of the table topper:

A few notes: the mini quilt was made from a single charm pack. I used a pattern, but I can't remember the name (I thought it was Charm School but a quick google didn't bring up the right pattern). I included batting in the mini, quilted SID, and stitched yellow buttons down all over the top.
The table topper was done in a flip and sew technique*. I pieced it in 4 log cabin style blocks (no batting) and then stitched the 4 blocks together, added borders with the flip and sew technique, and bound the raw edges off. This particular piece required some hand stitching because I pieced 4 flip and sew blocks together to create the center of the piece. (The pattern came from a class that I took at a lqs, sorry no link!.) I love the weight of the table topper without batting, and the flip and sew technique is perfect for something that is washed often because the layers don't shift around.

I'm really glad that I can use a few of my older pieces again! As I was packing up for us to move to Seattle, I realized that I have lots of quilty things that aren't being used all of the time. Lots of them are seasonal or are very specific colors/styles and I wasn't sure that I wanted to store so much. I think I may still donate a few very gently used quilts, but I'm also going to hold onto some of the things that I'm not sure about parting with, because I may find uses for them in the future!

*I love the flip and sew technique so much that I just finished up a table cloth this way! I'll show that one as soon as we have a sunny day so I can take a few pictures.*

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Oops, it's June!

The time is really flying by! I spent April packing, so I didn't do much sewing. When I packed up my luggage for the move, I took my Little Birdie Stitches block with me in hopes that I'd (start and) finish it in those few remaining days of April. Then the May block was available and I still hadn't started the April block. I really hate falling behind, so I pushed through and in the last few days of May I started and finished both blocks. Just in time for the June block!
Here's April:

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Giveaway Winner!

The winner of the Amy Butler camera strap covers is #12, Deb!

True Random Number Generator  12Powered by RANDOM.ORG

Deb said...

I was just looking at camera straps the other night on an Etsy shop. I'd love to win yours! I never thought of having a strap for the camera bag itself. Looks like fun to have a colorful strap.

I'll send you an email shortly, Deb. Everyone else, be sure to hop over to Deb's blog. She has some beautiful pictures and stories about the fun things her family is up to, plus some sewing thrown into the mix!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Baby's got BACK!

Chasing Cottons is hosting a really fun link party this week with quilt backs being the theme!

I used to dig through the sale fabric at my lqs for backing fabric. In fact, I worked at the lqs and couldn't bring myself to buy the perfect backing fabric even with my discount! And then at some point I started to realize that while others might not see the back, *I* would! I still go digging through sale fabric, but I also spend more time looking, and I like to use up my scraps from the quilt top in the backing.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Now hop over to the link party and join in the fun! It's so inspiring to see all of the great quilt backs!

Friday, June 10, 2011

How 'bout a giveaway?

Life seems to have gotten the better of me! I was hoping to do a giveaway each month this year, but April was a whirlwind with packing and moving. Addy and I ended the month in Illinois, and then drove to Milwaukee, WI to spend a few days with a good friend. Soon we were off to Arizona, where the weather was CRAZY hot. Matt met up with us in Pheonix for my step-brother's wedding and a few days with my family. Then we flew on to Seattle, where the unpacking began!
We are all settled in, and we've even started to paint a few rooms. My sewing time was consumed with quilting a few t-shirt quilts that my mom and I were commissioned to make. Once I finished those, I started on some house stuff. Hopefully I will have some pics of the house projects soon. I'd like to have a few projects finished up in the next few days!
So, about that giveaway!
I've got 2 camera straps up for grabs. Both are made from Amy Butler prints with a layer of batting for extra comfort. I made these to fit a standard dSLR strap, measurements are 2" wide by 24" long. My aunt also tells me that they work great slipped over the strap of a camera bag, too. ;)
As usual, the winner will receive BOTH straps. You choose which one to keep, and which one to "pay it forward"!

To enter the giveaway, just leave me a comment. Feel free to let me know what you think of these giveaways. If you have any suggestions or ideas, I'd love to hear them! Or just share whatever is on your mind. What's inspiring you right now? What fabric line is begging to live in your stash (ehem, 1001 peeps, anyone???)?
Giveaway ends some time Tuesday, June 14.
Good luck!

The giveaway has ended. Thanks to all who participated!