Saturday, December 10, 2011

A few finished bags

Finally, a bit of progress! I would have liked to have had a few more things finished at this point, but I ran in to quite a few problems on this last purse I made and that has really held me up.  I'm not so sure why I had such a hard time with this, but I think it was probably a combination of a difficult pattern (this one is pretty structured, so the pieces were hard to maneuver and the layers got pretty thick) and me making some really silly mistakes (including but not limited to: using the wrong pieces to make the handles, putting the handles on upside down, ripping the fabric while taking off the incorrectly placed handles, acidentally sewing the two sides of the purse together while attaching the top panel, and then there was the piping, which was a whole issue in itself.)  Of course due to all these mistakes I wound up running out of thread and having to make a trip to the store in the middle of it...needless to say, this bag has been my nemesis! Oh well, the good news is, it's finally finished and looks pretty good...the bad news is, I'm slated to make another one!  While fighting with putting the piped pieces together I was cursing myself for having already cut out the pieces for the other one...otherwise, that plan would definitely be changed.  But alas, I'm not about to waste all that fabric, so another one it shall be.  Hopefully it will go a little smoother since I kind of know what to expect now, and a few changes will probably be made as well (right now I'm debating whether or not the second one will even have piping!)   Anyway, here is the msot recently completed bag, the Sophia Carry All which will go to my mother-in-law.

Exterior Sophia Carry All

Close up of piping on Sophia Carry All

Interior Sophia Carry All

I also finished the Blossom Handbag for my bestie last weekend, and I love it! I think this one will be perfect for her. 

Exterior Blossom Handbag

Interior Blosom Handbag

Finally, here are some better pictures of the Teardrop Bag for my other bestie that I've already shown.  I finally got a new memory card so no more grainy cell phone pics, hooray! (Although, please excuse the date on the photos...forgot that function was on. Oops!)

Exterior Teardop Bag

Interior Teardrop Bag

I've still got two more bags to make and I want to make a wrislet for my mom, but I am winging the design on that one so I'm uncertain at this point if it will happen before Christmas.  Also, I'm expecting the fabric I ordered for my newphew's blankets to come in Monday, so as soon as that gets here I'll try to whip those up so I can get them in the mail.  I think I'm going to need a miracle to finish all this in time!! Wish me luck!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Because I don't have enough to do already...

In the middle of one of my bags, I realized I was about to run out of thread and had the wrong colored zipper, so I had to make a quick run to the craft store to pick up these two things...

And this is what I came out with! Oops...I should know by now to not browse if I'm there for something particular, but I just can't help myself! 

The remnants bin was all 50% off, I usually do not find anything there but at that price it doesn't hurt to look...This time I found a half yard of two nice quilting fabrics which will be nice in my stash, along with some really pretty fleece which I decided needed to be a baby blanket for my dear friend's baby.  Since I was now planning a new blanket, I also had to get the pink paisley flannel, satin blanket binding (which I've never used but I'm hoping it will help make this a quick project...) and the tan felt to put her name on it.  I'll probably put that together after I finish the bag I'm currently on, as this one's a doozy and I'll probably need something simple to relax with!  Also, I found a cute little mouse ornament, and some cheapo scissors for the house since the dog ate the handle off our last pair....All in all, I'd say my "quick" trip was a success!  Now I'm off to try to solve my tension problems that decided to randomly start when half way through my edge stitching I had to switch to the new spool of thread...grumble grumble grumble....

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Spoiler Alert! Christmas gifts in progress!

Now that Thanksgiving is over, I can acknowledge that Christmas is coming! (Read: I have realized that I have waited too long to start making Christmas gifts / decorations and now will be in a sewing craze for the next 24 days...) But, that means I have lots of Works In Progress to share for my first link of with WIP-Wednesdays at Freshly Pieced! Fair warning though, the picture quality may not be the highest on these, my hubby has apparently high-jacked my memory card and so I had to use an iPhone to take these!
WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Welcome to my bag factory Santa's Workshop!
  Disaster area 1
please don't judge me for my mess...
Disaster area 2
just realized how weird it probably looks to have a sharpening stone and "real" tape measurer on my cutting table...they are used for fabric weights (yes I'm in desperate need of some sewing notions...)

It's a complete disaster, which is usually how I roll, but this is getting a little out of hand...In fact, the only thing stopping me from cutting into more projects is the fact that I do not have anymore room to do so until I clear some stuff out. So, right now I have one project "in the machine", one "on the cutting table", a few in the "cutting queue", and of course a few in the "planning stage".  All but one of these are Christmas gifts, and most of the ladies on my list are getting purses. I had so much fun picking out fabric for each of them, trying to find just the right print for their style. Hopefully I got it right! (And also hopefully none of them are reading this blog....)

In the machine: Amy Butler bag for my BFF.  She looked through my Amy Butler book a few months ago and really liked this, I was nervous to try to make it as its rated a little harder, but I think I can manage.

WIP-Christmas gift

On the Cutting Table: Two more Amy Butler Bags for my hubby's Mom and Gramma. They have a little bit more traditional tastes, so I tried to keep the fabric a little toned down....
WIP-Christmas gifts

In the Cutting Queue: Another Amy Butler bag...have I mentioned I love Amy Butler patterns? I've not used too many other patterns that turn out as good as hers do, so when I came across these on sale at my LQS I had to get them.

WIP-Christmas gift

In the Planning Stages: I just ordered some fabric to make quick blankets for my newphews, they love the movie cars, so I got some Cars fleece and some solid flannel and I'll do a simple straight line quilting on them and use felt to put their names on them. Also, I'm really hoping to make this Nativity wall hanging quilt.  I actually bought this magazine solely for this pattern about 2 months ago. I'm not sure I'll get to it in time for Christmas, but I plan to still make it so it'll be ready for next year!
WIP-Nativity wall hanging

Finishes: I do actually have one finish for this week, and you guessed it, it's another Amy Butler bag. This one went together pretty quickly and I think it is just perfect for the friend I made it for (though the photo does not do it justice...)

Finished! Christmas gift
Finished! Christmas gift

Between all of these bags and things I also still need to get my tree up and decorate! So much to do, so little time...wish me luck!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

What's Thanksgiving without a turkey??

Celebrate Color
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!! I am pleased to announce that I got my Turkey wall hanging quilt finished just in time to hang for the holiday AND to enter it with the final month of Celebrate Color!  So without further ado…
Introducing Thomas A. Turkey!
I had the idea a few months ago to make a turkey using the Dresden plate, I didn’t think I’d ever seen it before but I Googled it and apparently it’s all over the place!  I probably saw it at some time and just kept it in my subconscious...oh well.  Anyway, I watched this video by Missouri Quilt Company to kind of give me an idea of what they did, and then I just went with it. I knew I wanted to make the turkey but had no idea where it was going to take me, the whole thing just kind of came together as I went!  The turkey itself was made with a fat quarter bundle I got at the fabric store for the feathers along with some solid color scraps I had in my stash for the body.  I appliqu├ęd the whole thing onto the main exterior fabric and then put on the embroidery.  After that, I put the quilt sandwich together using some nice fall-inspired backing and the binding was made with one of the fat quarters that I didn’t use for the feathers.


I am so pleased at how well this came out, and surprised, to tell you the truth! I tried a couple things on this that I have never done before, so there were plenty of things that could have gone wrong, but all-in-all it went pretty smoothly.  One thing I’m especially proud of is the embroidery.  I have wanted to try this for a while and decided this would be a great project to use it on.  When I asked a woman at the local quilt shop what kind of thread to get, she recommended I try Sulky brand thread, so I picked up some shimmery green in 40 wt, then I practiced on some scraps with a couple of methods that I saw mentioned here and there on the web.  The method I found to be the easiest was using my FMQ foot with presser feet down, guiding it through as if the needle was a pen, using a straight stitch. After I did my first word on the actual quilt, though, that just didn’t stand out enough for me.   I decided to try using a really small zig-zaq stitch, keeping the stitches as close together as I could. This was really tricky, and I had to be VERY patient moving it through to make sure my lines were smooth, but I love the effect it had. One thing I would do differently next time though is the actual tracing of the letters onto the fabric. I used a soluble pen and hand wrote the words on there, but I think next time I will print the words out on some kind of transfer paper.  I think that way would make it a little more evenly spaced and sized.  Also…some spots where I wrote with the pen keep showing back up! Grr….
Another new thing I tried was the free motion quilting.  It was so much fun to do, and after a few trials on some scrap I jumped right in.  The thread I used was a nice thin gold (I think 60 wt?) that somehow I wound up with about 1500 yards of during a different project and it was just begging to be used up. I’m not sure how or why I had such a big of a spool of this, but it was nice because I didn’t have to worry about running out in the middle of it all and the color was perfect for this project. I did have it break on me a few times which was frustrating, but I made it through and I think it looks pretty snazzy! I almost didn't add the quilting lines in the feathers, but I decided to after quilting the rest of it. I'm glad I did, I think it added some structure and finished it off nicely!
For the binding, I used the Zig-Zag binding tutorial at Stitched in Color again.  It turned out great, though I do need some practice doing the corners and where the binding connects. I tried multiple times to connect it with the 45 angle like in the tutorial, but just couldn’t quite figure it out. I was running out of time so I wound up just placing one end over the other and stitching it like that. Oh well, it still looks nice I think. 
Other than the few little things here and there, there is not a whole lot on this I would re-do if given the chance. I love how it all came together and I’m sad that it’s so late in the season that I won’t be able to enjoy it hanging up for very long! I think I’ll try to leave it up as long as I can before hubby notices ;-)
Thanks for stopping by everyone, I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving, and remember the message from Thomas A. Turkey, “Count your blessings and be thankful!”  I know I have been very blessed this year and am glad to be able to share this time with my family!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Wait...what month are we in?

It has recently come to my attention that Thanksgiving is NEXT WEEK...where has the time gone?! I am totally not ready, which luckily is fine because we're traveling for Thanksgiving this year...otherwise right now I'd probably be running 'round the grocery store like a chicken with my head cut off, trying to find whatever Thanksgiving feast supplies are left on the shelf, and perhaps being desperate enough to swipe some from someone's non-attended cart...ok, so I'm not really that mean, but you get my point...Thanksgiving is soon, which means the Christmas whirlwind is about to begin. Many blogs are already running their Christmas craft series, with lovely ideas for gifts to make for others, but I just came across a great series at this blog, Lily's Quilts, she is part of the quilting e-zine, Fat Quarterly, which is a great place to find alot of inspiration. Anyway, Lily's Quilts is running a series called "Christmas Gifts for Quilters" where about each week she posts an idea that someone else can get YOU for Christmas. And along with that, always a great give-a-way.  Click the button bellow to check them out, and throw some hints at your loved ones!

Christmas Gifts for Quilters

I SO wanted to be already started on the gifts that I plan to make this year, and you'd think that with all of these blogging-series that I've been reading I would have gotten the hint to start, but alas, I've lost track of time really haven't thought too much about it until now!! EEK! So, I've spent the last few days finishing up some other "must-finish" projects so that by the end of this weekend I can start cutting into fabric for my gifts.

First up, these are some Mosaic Quilt Blocks that I made for a quilt to be donated to a family who lost EVERYTHING in a gas utility explosion in San Bruno, CA last year.  Then recently, the husband got in a very bad car accident and has been recovering from that, while the wife is about to have their first baby! I signed up to join do. Good Stitches, a quilting bee, and while my actual quilt circle that I'll be a part of does not start until January, Kelsy posted a request for help for this family and I was pleased to be able to assist.
Mosaic Quilt Block
I was a little nervous as these were my first blocks to be made for an actual quilt EVER and of course they were going to be used by someone else, so they needed to be good. These were pretty fun to make and gave me some liberty to not be exactly square, so I think that definitely worked in my favor :)

Second on the agenda was this "Beautiful Balance" check book cover I was making for my BFF. I had made one before for my self, using Amy Butler's "Style Stitches" book (which I LOVE, BTW) and she loved it so I wanted to make one for her as well. This time, I added some little pockets to be able to store credit cards and stuff like that.


I LOVE the way this one turned out, I was tempted to not tell her I'd made it and just keep it for myself! I always get anxious about making things for people, I want the end result to be good quality and something they'll be proud to use. My bestie said she loved it, and it was perfect timing because her old wallet had just died so she has already put it to use! Phew!

Last on my agenda today will be to finish my turkey. We're making progress, and I adore him (adore him so much that I've started to refer to him like an actual pet, and sometimes even talk to him while I'm sewing...) I'm so excited for how this is going.  He's all stitched on, and I've started to add the words around him.  Today (hopefully) I will get the words complete and do the quilting.

Well, if I keep blabbing on here I'm never going to get anything done, so away I go! How about you, have you started your Christmas crafting, or are you a procrastinator like me??

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

At last, a fall table runner!

Celebrate Color
First of all, I am linking this post up with Celebrate Color, so welcome anyone who is stopping by for Celebrate Color! I hope you'll stay for a bit! :)

As mentioned previously, I LOVE decorating for fall.  I don't understand why people are so quick to jump right to Christmas, when there's so much beauty in fall colors also.  Don't get me wrong, I love me some Christmas too... but something about the slower pace of fall, the cooler temps and beautiful colors lets me relax and unwind before the craziness of the holiday season begins.  With pumpkin spice latte in hand, I pulled out my box of decorations from last year at the first sign of cooling weather (and here in central Florida, that equates to a drop to about 87 degrees...) I have a hutch that holds all of our TV equipment that I usually have a table runner on which I change out for the seasons, and I could have sworn I had a fall one.  Apparently, I either lost it or I was hallucinating because it was no where to be found...oh well, that gave me an excuse to try my hand at some holiday crafting!  Now, I'm not much of a planner...I just like to find some fabric I like and go with it, but I had just bought an Accuquilt Go! Baby fabric cutter which came with some triangle and square dies, so I decided to try it out with my runner, making a few of these blocks:

I think this block is called a Saw Tooth Saw, I tried to google it but there are so many star blocks...who knows which one I actually made (actually...if anyone does, feel free to fill me in!), but I love it! Anyway, I had originally planned to make the star part with the patterned fabric, and solid as the background but somehow or another I didn't have enough fabric to do that, so it ended up being flip-flopped and I am glad that it did, I really like the way they turned out. 

I pieced together the back with some solid brown, solid orange and one of the patterns that did not make the cut for the front

Then it was time for the binding, which is where things really started to fall apart. My first attempt was TERRIBLE. I made some continuous bias tape (which as it turns out was completely unnecessary) at 1 inch thick (which, as it also turns out, was a really bad idea) Knowing that I couldn't get that on very straight with a stitch-in-the-ditch technique I decided to attach it using a decorative stitch to help hide my errors. Well that was an epic failure. There are many things that I could name as to why it went wrong, but what I ended up with were uneven stitches, the binding on the back not getting sewed with the front, and some sections came unfolded. I did the whole top until I realized just how bad it was. Frustrated, I decided to take a break from it for the time being...

A few days later, I think Rachel over at Stitched in Color must have known that I was struggling and posted this lovely tutorial on zig-zag binding. The idea behind this is kind of what I was going for, so this was exactly what I needed to help me try again, and get a decent result. If only I had a delorean and could read this tute BEFORE my ill-fated first attempt. There was no way I was going to attempt to rip out all those stitches, so I wound up just cutting off the parts of the binding that hadn't been stitched yet and just covering it all up with the new binding (shhhh don't tell anyone!) I was pretty bummed about how un-perfect this turned out, but considering this is the closest thing I've done to a quilt thus far, I guess I can blame it on the learning curve.


I am pleased that I finally got this put together, and unless you know what's wrong with it or look too closely, it looks pretty darn cute on my TV hutch!
Table Runner 2
Fall table runner

Thanks again for stopping by, can't wait to see all the other projects being posted for Celebrate Color! I might also have another one ready soon, if I can get my act together!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Finally some finished projects!

Alright, so I've had some success along with some failures lately...The good news is, I finished alot of stuff that I wanted to get done:

The wreath made it on the door

The purse is complete

for the inside I decided to use some left over strips that I had pieced together to make this pillow, I loved all the fabrics and just couldn't bare wasting all of these strips

The St. Francis constume was a huge hit! Don't these two look great??

And the table runner is *finally* complete
Fall table runner

Now about that table runner...I plan to do a more detailed post about it later so I can enter into Celebrate Color, but let's just say, things did NOT go according to plan on that one.

I ended up cheating last weekend and went to the sale, but really it was because I didn't have enough fabric to do the binding on the table runner so I had to find some more. (I also happened to find some YUMMY fabric to make a gift for my friend, and some cute fat quarters that who knows what I'll do with..but I love fat quarters and I think you can never go wrong with them, plus, hello, they were on sale! Totally justified...) At one point I got really frustrated with the table runner, so I decided I needed to work on something else for a little while, (cutting fabric can be so therapeutic, wouldn't you say?), So I got started on this:

The next fall decor project I've been hinting at is finally started!! Isn't he cute??

I've got to applique him onto some background fabric, and I'm going to try my hand at free-motion quilting to write something on the top of it. I will quilt it and it will end up being a wall hanging quilt. I have high hopes for this one! We are going out of town for the weekend so I will not get anything done for a few days, but the following weekend is a 3-day weekend so I plan to sew-sew-sew!! :)

Happy crafting everyone!!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

No more crafting until you finish your...crafts?

WWMy craft room basically looks like a tornado blew through...Projects tossed on every visible surface, scraps strewn about...its a disaster! Because of this, I am grounding more starting new projects, no more trips to the fabric store to oodle new fabrics, no more conjuring up new ideas, until THESE projects are done and I can safely maneuver around my sewing table again. Here are my goals for the weekend:

1) Finish the fall table runner

I didn't get to finish it in time for entry into last month's Celebrate Color (see last post), so it's going to have to be entered next month instead, but I would still like to get it done SOON so I can actually put it out and enjoy it this year.  I've made alot of progress since the last time I showed a picture of it; everything is all pieced, squared off and I ironed on some lining to give it a little structure, all that's left is to bind and top stitch.

2) Finish that darn wreath.

Yes, it is still perched in front of my fire place, which admittedly I do enjoy, but it's supposed to go on the door! I need to find a way to stabilize it (I used pipe insulation as the core, and the flowers are weighing it down when I try to hang it, so it turns out kind of oblong...) I have a few thoughts, it's just a matter of DOING IT!

3) Finish this purse

Ok, so I haven't mentioned this one yet. I started it probably around a month ago and then got so excited about fall projects that I put it aside. But its so cute! And all needs to be done is sew the lining and outer bag together and top stitch. Should be done in a snap.

4) Complete up to at least week 3 of the Advent Calendar

I'm pretty far behind in this (in fact, I'm not even posting a picture of it because it hasn't changed since the last one I took) so I'm not expecting to totally finish, but I'd like to make a litle progress on this.

I think these are pretty reasonable goals for the next few days...right?? As motivation, I've laid out this little number here:

This is part of the super fun fall decor project I mentioned before and I'm so excited to start.  Hopefully, not being able to start it 'til I'm finished with my other stuff will be motivation enough to get it all done. And if that doesn't get me goin, there's a sale at the local fabric shop that I always find GREAT stuff at, which, due to my aforementioned rules, I cannot go to if I don't get this stuff done...if that's not motivation, I don't know what is!

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Costume Ordeal

So I had hoped to be blogging my progress on my Advent Calender, or maybe my Fall Table Runner for entry into Celebrate Color, but unfortunately I am STILL trying to finish a costume I had agreed to make a friend of mine a few weeks back, and man has this been an ordeal.  You see, my friend is doing an "All-Saints-Day" festival for the kids at her church.  She is dressing up like a nun, and her husband is going to dress up as St. Francis.  Her husband is about 6'3", and they could not find a costume to fit a man so tall, so she asked me how easy it would to sew up a simple tunic for him. I thought "Oh heck, shouldn't be hard at all! Nothin to it, sure I'll do it for you!" Well...having never sewed a garment before, and not having any sort of pattern, I should have thought this through a little more. But, oh well, no time to second guess this, I had to get started! We found a picture on line of the idea she had for it...

Yeah, so he's not supposed to look as creepy as this guy, but it gives the general idea of what we were going for.  My first step was to figure out how much fabric I would need...In some kind of crazy math, I came to the conclusion that I'd need about 6 yards.  After I had drawn up a lovely plan (ok, so it was a stick figure with a rectangle around it...) I ventured off to Jo-Anns for some cheapo brown cotton fabric and took it home to get started.  I cut out the part to be the robe itself with a hole for the head, and thought "Heck, this is going to be a cinch!"

 that's a whole lotta fabric....

I proceeded to measure out the shoulders and cut a spot for the arms, then I hemmed up the bottoms and sides, and thought now all I had to do was throw on some sleeves and a hood, bada bing, bada boom, we'll have ourselves a tunic!  I was quickly on my way to victory! I guess I got too confident too quickly, because this is where things started to go downhill...Did I mention that I was only going off of rough measurements, and wasn't able to actually put this on the person to make sure everything fit? I had my hubby try it on to give me an idea, but he's not near 6'3", so I was left to estimate...ALOT. 

On to the sleeves...I guesstimated a length, did my best to figure out how big the sleeve hole was to get the width, and cut myself a rectangle. Then, I cut it to curve with the arm hole, sewed it up so it was a tube, and proceeded to try to attach this thing...Needless to say, this was a disaster. Enter seam ripper. Maybe I needed to sew it on BEFORE I sew it into a tube...Nope, disaster #2...good thing I still had my seem ripper handy.  I started trying to think of a better way to do this, and finally decided I needed to maybe "google" how to attach a sleeve.  Yep, should have done it before sewing up the sides of the garment so it can lay flat to attach it. Alright, easy enough, nothin my good ole friend the seem ripper couldn't help me fix! So, garment apart, laying flat, I pinned and attached the sleeve. Success!!  Finally think I got it figured out, until I measured the length...dang, I had turned the rectangle the wrong way before I cut the curve, and wouldn't you know the sleeve is too short now...I attempted sleeve number two with the correct dimensions, and it was much better, so I felt confident to (ONE MORE TIME) rip the seams and redo the first sleeve.

Why hello there, BFF's...

Well by this time, I was running out of fabric, so it was off to Jo-Anns to get some more. 2 more yards should do it for one more sleeve and the hood.  I get home, cut out my rectangle for the other sleeve, and go to pin it on when I realized I had gotten the WRONG FABRIC!! Uuugggh you've got to be kidding me! Back to the store... (20 minutes away, mind you...) Grabbed myself 1 more yard of the RIGHT fabric (I figured I could use the other stuff for the hood thing, the color matched it was just a slightly different material).  I finally did get the second one attached, and I pinned up the sides to finish it off and turns out, the hems on the bottom don't match up! Duh...should have waited to hem the bottom... (hello again, seem ripper). Anyway, I finally got the sides all stitched up, evened out the bottom and hemmed it back up. PHEW! I don't really know what went wrong, but the armpit area wound up looking pretty wonky, but at this point...I was willing to let the slide so long as it fits him right.   

I packed it all up and brought it to my friend at work today so she can take it home to her hubby to make sure it fits, I made it extra long *just in case* so I'm expecting to have her bring it back so I can hem it up to final length. I'm still waiting to hear how it went...Tonight I made the hood, and surprisingly, that went together with no problems at all


God willing, this will all look good once its on and finished off with the rope belt. I hope to have a picture of him in it if all goes well.  One thing is for sure after this project, I now know that you can improv on some things, but garments (that other people are relying on you to make...) are not one of them!