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!!