Monday, October 31, 2011

Another Update!

I have a habit of writing up blog posts and scheduling them to post later, sometimes weeks later! So by the time my last FWQAL and LBS update posted, I had more to share! Here is what I have done now:
12 New Blocks
 The whole group! 30 so far!
The group is at week 22, so that's 44 blocks. I'm behind by 14, yikes! Unfortunately I think this project may just continue to lag behind, because it's going to take a back seat to my holiday sewing. Hopefully I can get a few done along the way. We'll see how that goes!

I'm all caught up with this group! 2 blocks to go, I'm hoping to finish the quilt up before Christmas!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Prince Charming for a Princess

It's time for Blogger's Quilt Festival again! This is my second round participating, and I have a really special quilt to share. I made this quilt recently for one of my closest friends.


This quilt is for Stephanie, one of my best friends, who is expecting her third baby and her first girl! I had a rough time starting this project because I wanted it to be perfect. I have been itching to create a zig zag quilt for awhile, so I decided to start there. The directional prints in the Prince Charming line were a challenge, but I love how this quilt turned out!
I have had this zig zag quilt pinned on my pinterest board, and I love how the white zig zags are narrower than the colored zig zags. I found a really great Pat Bravo teal solid that matched the Prince Charming line, and decided to use the solid for the narrower zig zag. As I pieced the quilt together, I decided that I didn't like keeping the prints organized in the zig zags, though. The directionality of the prints was a lot more distracting in that layout, so I mixed up the prints and kept the solid zig zags consistent.
Once the top was pieced, I struggled with the quilting. The perle cotton hand quilting craze inspired me, but the perle cotton that I bought was too heavy. I tried to hand quilt a few zig zags, and it was just impossible to pull the thread through the quilt layers without straining my hands a ton! I started bouncing some ideas off of my running/quilting/chatting/drinking friend, and she suggested quilting diagonal lines contrary to the diagonal pattern of the zig zags. I chose to quilt the lines sparingly, because Stephanie recently told me that she liked the softness that is lost in dense quilting.
So, here's the quilt!
 Do you see the binding in the upper righthand corner? I was short by 1 binding strip, and the shop was sold out of the teal solid when I went back. I decided to use one of the darker prints from the top, even though it wasn't my favorite. I think the dark print was a great choice, though, because it seems to blend in well!
For the backing I used part of a thrifted bed sheet. It was so nice to not have to piece together a backing!
 A pumpkin and a quilt. Can you spot the garden gnome?
I sent this quilt off with some cute little girlie summer clothes (for next year) and a pair of newborn longies. After 5 years of dinosaurs and firetrucks, I'm sure this package was just the beginning of the pink!
As soon as the package arrive Steph let me know that she loves the quilt and her boys had a great time digging through the baby things and admiring the tiny girl clothes. I can't wait to see them love on their baby sister!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

A cheerful little runner

Right now our dining room table and kitchen island are sporting festive Halloween runners, I blogged about them here and here last year. So, while we are currently all decked out for the autumn holidays, I decided to sew up a bright, cheerful runner for our kitchen island. I figure we will need something pretty to look at as the dreary winter sets in. ;)
I started with a Dream On charm pack, and sewed the charms into rows. To offset the rows, I cut 2 charms in half and sewed the halves to alternating ends of the long rows of charms. I quilted the runner in a loop pattern that I've been seeing a lot lately. I changed my loops slightly by alternating their size, and I opted for light quilting, with just 1 loop in each charm. It was really easy to create these loops, and I can't wait to try this on a bigger quilt! To finish off the runner, I used kona in bahama blue for binding, with a tiny piece of kona in bone when I ran out of blue. ;)
If you look closely at this pic, you can see the loop quilting:
 It really brightens up the kitchen!
 For the backing I used a piece from a vintage sheet:
This was a fun, quick project. I have a few more charm packs that would coordinate well with the colors we already have in the kitchen, so next time I need a fast finish I may make a few more of these! (Besides, I will need a few to rotate through between laundry days!)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Ballet Bag

A few weeks after school started, Addy also started ballet classes! She loves the classes, and her only complaint is that she only has class once a week.
The first day was a bit hectic with getting her ready, finding the building, parking, and rushing her inside. On my way out the door, I grabbed my purse, tote bag and a book to read when she was in class. I think I had more "stuff" with me than the mom with 4 kids trailing behind her!
So, in an effort to streamline our ballet class rush, I decided to make Addy a little bag for her things. It's so much easier to remind her to grab her coat and ballet bag!
I used the lunch bag tutorial from Pink Penguin and a Japanese print that I picked up a few months ago at a local shop. This bag is the perfect size for Addy's ballet shoes and a few other small things. During the week I'm trying to remember to store her clean leotard and tights in there with her shoes, and during class I stuff her yoga pants in the bag.
Here is the back of the bag:
 A detail shot of the drawstring closure:
I love the size and shape of this bag, plus the drawstring top is so convenient. It also sewed up really fast-I picked out the fabric, cut, and sewed the whole bag in less than 2 hours! I worked on it one morning while Addy was at school, and all I had left to do after I picked her up was to insert the drawstring cord. I highly recommend this tutorial, it was a really quick project with great instructions. I'd really like to make one of these for myself as a project bag!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A raincoat for Addy

Now that we live in land of drizzly rain, I decided that Addy should have a raincoat! I pulled out my go-to coat pattern (used here for a winter coat and here for a lighter weight coat) and asked Addy to pick out a laminate at the lqs.
Surprisingly, Addy chose a print without pink in it! And it was nearly a miracle that I had a matching fabric in my stash to use for lining! But not quite a miracle, because I forgot to cut out the sleeves. And then didn't have enough fabric for them - so I used a coordinating print! :)
Here's the coat:
Front details: 
 Velcro closure:
 Lining - raindrops, of course!
 Toggles on elastic cord to tighten the hood. I added this detail because last year her hood didn't stay up very well:
 This is the coordinate that I used for the sleeves:
Coat back: 
 Happy girl!
I really love how this turned out. I wish I had a good pattern for an adult rain coat, but I'm not sure if I could pull off the big flower print. Maybe a simpler print for the exterior with raindrop lining? ;)
Laminate is from Sunny Daze
I sewed this coat up in a size 5, maybe we'll get 2 years out of it!

Monday, October 17, 2011

A quick Quilt Along update

Right now I have 2 quilt alongs on my plate:
Little Birdie Stitches and
Farmer's Wife Quilt Along

I've managed to keep up with the LBS, which is a really good thing! A few times now I've gotten behind by a month or two, but I find it hard to carve out time to hand embroider. So that is really motivating me to stay on schedule!
I finished up the August and September blocks:
Only 3 months left to go! I'm excited to see the next 3 blocks, and I can't wait to finish this up because I'm going to gift this quilt!

The other quilt along has had less progress. I honestly don't even now how many blocks the group has completed at this point, but I've only finished 4 more since the last time I blogged about it!
Here are my newest 4:
 And here's a group shot! I really love all of these blocks together. I think it's looking really cohesive, which it exactly what I wanted.
Maybe in a few more weeks I'll have a few more blocks to show!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Custom Diaper Bag in Heirloom

I was pleasantly surprised by how many people love my new Echino tote bag! So many great comments!
One person mentioned that it would make a great diaper bag, and asked if I would take a custom order. I love sewing customs, and she was such a great customer to work with.
I made two small modifications to the original bag - I added 2 bottle pockets to the inside of the bag and a detachable shoulder strap on the outside of the bag.
All of the fabric is Heirloom by Joel Dewberry. The amber colored blockprint is a laminate - we chose to use the laminate on the bag interior as well as the bottom of the exterior. Finished dimensions: 12" tall, 15" wide and 5" deep. The shoulder strap is extendable so the bag can be worn cross-body style on a tall dad or a petite mom.
Bag front:
Front detail with the divided exterior pocket:
 Side with removable shoulder strap:
 All packed up! I stuffed the bag with 2 bottles, 3 cloth diapers, 2 burp pads, 3 bibs, and a change of clothes. I could have fit nearly twice as much in the bag! And the bag held it's shape really nicely when full:
 Here is one of the bottle pockets. I used nylon for these pockets to reduce the amount of bulk:
(Not shown on the interior, I included a zip pocket just as in my Echino tote.)
 Bag back:
 My label!
I had a bit of fabric left over, so I sewed up this little zip pouch to send off with the bag. I try to add little extras to my customs when I have the chance. In this case, I thought a small zip pouch would come in handy for storing some cash, ID, keys, and maybe a cell phone. The zip pouch measures 5" x 7". 
It was fun to make up another bag customized for someone else, and in their fabric choices! This bag is so versatile, and I hope it meets the needs of a diaper bag!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

First Day of School Dress

Addy started preschool a few weeks ago. It was a bit hectic in the beginning, because we switched preschools the day before she started. Earlier in the summer I called our first choice, and they had a long wait list. We finally found another program with availability, and then our first choice had a few kids move out of the area! So far she likes it, and the kids and parents are very friendly.
For her first day of school, I made Addy the Puppet Show Dress (pattern includes tunic and dress length!) by Oliver + S. I knew that I had to use fabric with pink in it, or I would run the risk of her not wearing the dress. I decided to give the pretty Pat Bravo prints a try, and I love them! The colors are vibrant and the fabric is so soft! I feels sort of like a poplin, but a bit lighter weight. This fabric is from an older collection,  Naturella.
Dress front with the peter pan collar:
 Bodice detail:
 Sleeve detail:
 Buttons running down the back!
 Button at the sleeve:
 Love those buttons!
I couldn't get any great shots of the dress on Addy, but here's one that I love:
One of Addy's teachers complimented her on her dress the first day, and Addy actually said, "My mom made it!" Her teacher even asked me after school if I really did make the dress - it got rave reviews!

Monday, October 10, 2011

A Gumdrop for the dogs!

Remember this pillow? Well, laminate was on sale at the lqs....
 And now I have 2 happy dogs!
The laminate was really easy to work with. For most of the piecing, I was working with the laminate sides together so I had no issues with the fabric feeding well. When needed, I used a special foot with a roller on it to help feed the fabric.
I made a lining for this bag, because I wanted to use the little styrofoam balls from bean bag chairs. I inserted the lining, filled it with beans, closed the lining, and zipped the laminate layer closed! I thought this would make it easier to add beans if these compress a bit, too.
One bit of warning-the ladies at my lqs mentioned that the laminate is a bit thin, so this wouldn't work well for pets with sharp nails.
I love this pillow! I think it looks great with the other fabrics in our living room and at night we often drag it into our room for the one of the dogs to curl up in!

(Oh, fabric is Heirloom and Loulouthi!)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Funky Artichoke

Does anyone else envision some crazy dance move when they hear "Funky Artichoke"? I can't get that image out of my head!
The idea for this quilt came from a facebook comment earlier this year. I committed to a Pay It Forward-I would make a handmade gift for the first 5 people to comment on my facebook, and they in turn had to commit to doing the same. The gifts could be anything handmade, and you can see the other items that I made here.
My college roomie, Emily, was one of the 5 commenters, and she jokingly suggested an artichoke quilt. To say that she loves artichokes would be an understatement. Last winter the midwest was pummeled with snow (seriously, people, Lakeshore Drive was a PARKING LOT!), and Emily's then-boyfriend trekked through the snowstorm, artichokes in hand, to spend the snowstorm with her. So I knew that I had to try my hardest to actually produce an artichoke quilt.
I started out by google searching for images of artichokes, hoping to find inspiration. Somehow in my searching, I came across an image of Sugar Pop by Liz Scott. I think the photo owner had described one of the greens as "artichoke", which was how it ended up in my search.
I wasn't making much headway with the other photos, and I happened to have a charm pack of this line, so I pulled it out and started to thumb through the prints. I sketched a bit, and thought I had an idea. I started to piece all of the charms into half square triangles, using an ivory kona for the other half of the HST. My intent was to piece the HSTs into concentric diamonds, which I would offset in the quilt top. The offset diamond would result in a large corner of the ivory kona, where I envisioned an artichoke-like image appliqued. Have I lost you yet? Imagine this quilt, but with a large area of background fabric in the lower righthand corner.
I had all of the HSTs pieced when I started to play with the layout. Before sewing the top together, I decided that I should try a few different ideas. I sort of stumbled onto this layout, but once I did I couldn't get it out of my head. It wasn't a literal translation, but it was *so* perfect for Emily:
 To emphasize the round shape of the piecing, I stitched 1/4" away from the seam allowances following the lines in the piecing. I was stumped when I got to the corners, until a friend suggested leaves. I went back to google images, where I found photos of the flowers on artichoke plants!
 The flowers were really quite easy to quilt, and I think they add just the right amount of whimsy to the quilt.
 I had a few HSTs left over, so I sewed them into a pinwheel and added them to the back.
 The ivory areas of the pinwheel made the perfect place to label the quilt! (You can also see the straight line quilting a bit better in this next pic):
At around 42" square, I think this quilt will make a great accent piece somewhere in Emily's apartment. She let me know that she received her package, and she loves the quilt! I'm so glad, that's always the best ending to a project!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Quilted Bathmats!

I wanted to add a little color to our bathroom, I just hadn't thought of the right project yet. And then I realized that we have a TON of bath towels. I think we have about 20 bath towels for 2 adults and 1 child! We seem to cycle through the same 5 or 6 towels, and we never touch the others.
So I pulled out 2 matching teal towels (that I've had since college!) and some coordinating charm packs.
 Here's a before shot of my bathroom. Lots of neutrals: small neutral rugs at the toilet and the sink, and a blue bathmat that we only put out when we needed it.
My original idea was to make a bathmat and 2 small quilted rugs to replace the off-white rugs that we had. But I decided that I didn't want everyone who used our bathroom to step all over my pretty rugs! So I decided to make 2 bathmats from the It's a Hoot and Just Wing It. That way we always have a clean bathmat!
I pieced the charms in a 5x7 layout, basted it to the towel, and did some quilting to keep the layers from shifting when I washed the bathmats. I used a zig zag stitch to apply the binding.
Here's one of the bathmats, tossed over the side of the tub (where it resides when not in use):
 Ready for use!
 A close-up:
 The back and binding:
We've been using the new bathmats for a few weeks now, and I really like them! The old towels are so soft and absorbant. Plus they provide a great pop of color in the bathroom. And we haven't missed those towels at all! ;)