Thursday, September 20, 2018

workshop totes

My friend Jeni hosted a workshop sew along a few weeks ago and I waited until the very last day (in my usual fashion!) to join in. The workshop tote pattern (available here) is straightforward and fun to sew, with a few different options. You can use one fabric, as I did here. You can also use patchwork squares or half-square triangles. (Directions are included in the pattern for all three.) I LOVED making this tote. I gave it to my sister for her birthday a few weeks ago. She plans to use it for her trips to the library with her boys. Hurray for useful gifts!
I have a few workshop totes that I love and use, too. This one was made by my friend Cindy. She used this fun focus fabric for the exterior. (I believe it's called sewing woes by Alexander Henry). It's so funny and perfect for this bag.
She didn't have enough of the focus fabric, so she used some solid colored charm squares to fill in the sides. Isn't that perfect? I love how it turned out and how making do can be a benefit at times.
Here is a half-square triangle version that my friend brianne made for me last summer. I love the black and white paired with the hot pink and orange lining. It's a great combination of her taste and mine. I have used this tote quite a bit and it's holding up quite nicely. It's such a fabulous size for many different uses.

One of my favorite features of this bag is the top stitching on the sides to give the totes structure. Genius! I also love how different each bag looks based on the fabric selection. The possibilities are endless!

Monday, September 17, 2018

retreat gifts, part 2

Thanks so much for sharing your ideas for "happies" in the last post. It was fun to read your comments. I've added a few new ideas to my list!
Of course pincushions are the number one on my list of things to make for retreat gifts. I have a few batches of them to share today!
In early August, I attended another annual quilt retreat with some of my quilting friends. I've been a part of that group for a few years now, so I'm finally catching on to each of their personal tastes. (It takes me awhile!) This year I made a paper pieced pineapple pincushion for each of them in colors that I thought they would like. (The pattern is in Plenty of Pincushions, Volume 1, which is available here.) Lots more assembly line sewing, but once I hunkered down, it wasn't so bad.
Each of the pincushions were heavily quilted, so I piggy backed them through my machine during the quilting process and it went pretty quick! Again, I love seeing multiple items grouped all together.  
A few weeks ago I was playing in my sewing room and I came across the scrap vortex blocks that I started on the 100 day project. I didn't do so well on the 100 day challenge, but that's ok! I turned a bunch of the blocks into pincushions in one afternoon. It was nice that the patchwork had already been made! I added a tab to each pincushion to "up" the cuteness factor.
I took these to a retreat that I taught at over the weekend and I let each student pick one of their choice. It's so fun to share things like this with other quilters and to release the pincushions out into the world as little bits of happy. It never gets old!
Here is a rundown of my pincushion method in a nutshell (no pun intended!):

Each pincushion top is a little bit of patchwork that has been quilted onto a batting scrap. The backings are quilting cotton interfaced with SF 101 for a bit of extra stability. They are filled with crushed walnut shells, which is sold in pet stores as lizard litter. I hand stitch the openings closed with invisible nylon thread, so the stitches aren't visible.

I find that this combination produces a lovely finish for a pincushion. (I think it's safe to say that I've done sufficient testing. Hahaha!)
Happy Monday to you!

Thursday, September 13, 2018

retreat gifts, part 1

Every year at my Gruber's retreat we exchange "happies". This year I made 11 (!!!) zipper pouches to share with my friends. (Included in that total: I made one to keep, plus another one for my friend/neighbor, AND I made one that was an inch too short, due to a cutting error. Hahaha! Although it wasn't funny at the time....)
I also spray painted the handles of these bow scissors, which I purchased at Harbor Freight. (I included a pair in each zip pouch.) I can't take credit for the cute scissor idea...I saw it on Instagram. (I used masking tape to cover the blades, then I used a generous layer of spray primer and a few layers of spray paint on the handles only. Once the paint is completely dry, remove the masking tape. From my experience, glossy paint works better than a matte finish. The glossy paint didn't ding up, but the matte paint did.)
The measurements are very similar to my two colored zip pouch pattern (available here). In this version I used one fabric for the outsides (obviously), but I made it slightly oversized and I quilted it. After I quilting, I trimmed the panels down to the correct size. This is a great way to use up batting scraps!  I used a layer of SF101 in addition to the batting, for added structure. I purchased the metal zippers from Zipit on Etsy.

Although assembly line sewing isn't my favorite, it was fun to see all the pouches together and it was fun to share them with my friends!

What are some of your go to gifts to give at retreat? What are some of your favorite things that you've received? (I'm always in the market for new ideas.)

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

lost in the crowd-a long work in progress

This morning I spent several hours cutting in an attempt to bring some order to the scrap chaos that is currently in my sewing room. My main objective was to cut 1 1/2" squares for my lost in the crowd quilt...but I ended up cutting up some other size scraps, too. There are some 2 1/2" squares, some 2" squares and some 2" x 2 1/2" rectangles. I have a goal to SAVE nothing smaller than a 1 1/2" square, but if you look at the photo above, you can see that I'm not quite there yet. Those little random bits in the top of the photo are keepers....
I did some sewing, too! I was able to add 25 new blocks to my total. It doesn't take long once the scraps are cut.
Earlier in the summer I hit the half-way mark....shown above are 600 little bitty blocks! I'm so glad that I decided to package them up into baggies of 100. It's kept the blocks orderly and makes the entire quilt seem attainable. (Hurray!) You can see the original quilt inspiration here.
It seems like every time I post about this quilt, there are questions about how I press the blocks. The beauty of this quilt is that there will be a plain 2 1/2" alternating square between each patchwork square, so the seams won't need to nest. That's one of the reasons why I took on this's not fussy. I press to the dark when sewing two squares together, then I press the middle seam open because it helps distribute the bulk nicely. It's been working out great for me.

I only have 575 more blocks to make! Hahahaha!

Friday, September 07, 2018

need more coffee-a completed quilt

Welcome to finish it up Friday!
I recently finished this quilt that I'm calling "need more coffee". It's a spin on my mini coffee cups quilt....but I made a LOT more blocks this time. 110 blocks, to be exact. I was working on these blocks at my annual Gruber's retreat this past summer and my friends urged me to offset the rows of coffee cups rather than rely on a straight block setting. It was definitely the right choice! That little change made a big difference.
I used a variety of light prints for the background, but all of the coffee cups are RED!
I used the spool print from my Emma & Myrtle collection for the backing and a sweet gingham print for the binding. (The binding might be my favorite part of this quilt!!!)
I glue basted the fabric to help line up the repeat of the print for the backing. It takes a little bit extra time to do it, but the satisfaction that I get out of it is priceless. I know, I'm such a nerd!
I quilted it on my Janome Horizon. The original quilting plan was to quilt a 1/2" grid all over, but I came to my senses and settled for a 1" grid instead. I decided that it'll do. Hahahaha!
The quilt measures about 60" x 76".
As much as I LOVE this quilt, I think I'm going to give it as a gift. I can't keep them all....sigh.

Now, it's your turn! Please link up your finishes. Thanks, as always, for joining me for finish it up Friday! Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

progress on the broken dishes quilt

Last Friday evening I finished assembling my broken dishes quilt top. The blocks finish at 18", so the assembly went relatively quickly, even though I do pin at each intersection. Measuring 72" x 90", it's a generous twin size. (It's based on this quilt pattern, but this time I made 20 blocks rather than 12 and I skipped the borders.) This is a good stash buster!  
Yesterday I spent several hours prepping the quilt for quilting. It's just like painting....doing good prep work in the beginning pays off in the end. I used spray baste (on the top layer only) to keep things nice and flat. Then I used pins to hold all three layers together. Spray baste isn't my preferred method because it's messy, sticky and smelly, but I wanted extra insurance to avoid the layers shifting. I think it's going to work well!
Inspired by my friend Stephanie, who has been working very hard to learn and up her machine quilting skills, I decided to push myself out of my comfort zone, too. Rather than default to my loop de loop quilting, I'm doing some "cinnamon roll quilting", as I like to call it, instead. I've done this on parts of other quilts before, and on a mini quilt, but it's a big commitment on a twin size quilt. I'm taking a lot of deep breaths and forcing myself to slow down and let go of perfection. (Always a struggle...) I'm already looking forward to the crinkle that this one will have after it's washed! It feels good to be stepping out of my comfort zone...kind of. Hahahaha!

Because it's always fun to hear from you....what is your "go to" quilting design? What is one quilting design that you would LIKE to be good at? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Friday, August 31, 2018

finish it up Friday announcement

After much consideration, I have decided that I will continue finish it up Friday, but I am going to change it up a bit. Going forward, I will host the linky party here once per month, on the first Friday of each month. (I plan to resume next week!) I appreciate all of you who have joined me over the years finishing up projects together. It's a great way to stay on track and be accountable! However, I feel the need to try something different, so I'll give this new schedule a try I will reassess things at the end of the year. Thank you for your understanding!
For those of you in the US, I hope you have a wonderful and SAFE holiday weekend. xoxo

Thursday, August 30, 2018

broken dishes-a work in progress

Today I finished the last of my broken dishes blocks, bringing my total to 20 completed blocks. I thought it would be fun to photograph them on my clothesline for a change of pace. Aren't they soooo pretty hanging out there? I'm making another version of this quilt, except this time I'm making more blocks (20 instead of 12) and skipping the borders. I think it's going to be fabulous!
I'm using two bundles from the "I Want Her Stash" club from Westwood Acres, which were curated by Amy Smart and Denyse Schmidt. They have been curing nicely in my stash (I've had them for a few years) and I love how they play together. The background is my own fabric from my Emma and Myrtle collection for Connecting Threads. I love the vintage feel of this entire combination. It was a great exercise to use bundles picked by someone else for a change. I loved it!

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

bright birch trees 4-a work in progress

First off, thanks for the warm welcome back to blogging! I appreciate all of the kind comments that you left! I'm happy to be back at it. :)
After I made my third bright birch tree quilt, I told myself that was it...I wasn't allowed to make another one, because I thought I "should" try something new rather than remaking the same quilt over and over. My resolve lasted a little over a year, apparently. In May I started another one. I couldn't help it! This pattern is such a great way to use up little least I think so! (Pattern is available here.) I was able to use ALL stash fabrics for the backgrounds, which is always a good thing!
It only took me a month or so to piece the top, which felt pretty fast, considering I wasn't spending all that much time sewing. I've had it basted for a few weeks now, and last week I finally started hand quilting it. (At least I'm trying out a new quilting treatment on this version!)
I decided to do some big stitch quilting echoing the lines of patchwork. It's looking better than I imagined. (Woohooo!!!! I love it when that happens!) I'm using this beautiful boxed set of threads that I've hoarded long enough. (The thread is perle cotton, size 8, designed by Anna Maria Horner for Anchor Threads. It was released several years, but I found some available here. No affiliation.)
I've hand quilted a few quilts in my day, but it took me awhile to get back into the groove. I ripped out my first quilting line 4 times (at least!) and then it occurred to me that I should mark some guidelines first, so my quilting lines aren't quite as wobbly. I used my Hera marker and a ruler to mark the temporary lines, which made all the difference. I'm well on my way to a finish AND I'm enjoying the process! Win/win!

(As an aside....I love my hera marker! If you don't have one, I would suggest getting one. It creates a temporary crease in the fabric rather than marking the fabric with ink, so you don't have to worry about whether or not your marking pen will come out of the fabric once your project is complete. While it works on both dark and light fabrics, I will say that it is much more visible on darker fabrics than light fabrics, but I've used it successfully on both. It's one of my favorite sewing tools ever. Again, no affiliation whatsoever.)

Monday, August 27, 2018

back at it

Well, hello there! I haven't fallen off the face of the earth. (Thanks to those of you who checked in on me....I appreciate it!) I didn't intend to be away from this space for the entire summer, but it was a lovely break. My one goal this summer was to enjoy my kids while they were home and I was able to do just that. I'm so thankful! (Some days that is a miracle, you know?) They headed back to school today, which is bittersweet. They are in grades 7, 10 and 12 this year!!! (I have a feeling there will be a lot of tears in the next 9 months, with a senior in the house....) Anyway, I'm excited for this year and I'm thankful to watch my kids grow up into great young adults.

I'm also excited to get back into the routine of sewing on a regular basis. I have a lot of things to finish (ooof!) and more ideas in my head than I can ever execute, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

I'm super excited to say it again....Happy Monday to you! xoxoxo

Monday, June 04, 2018

a geranium dress for my girl

I'm not a serious garment sewist by any means, but I like to dabble in that arena from time to time. I made this geranium dress for my girl on Saturday evening and she wore it to church on Sunday. (Pattern is available here.) I sewed the size 12 and added 2" to the length, which turned out to be the perfect fit. Hurray for the ability to customize your project! I love how it fits her slender frame. Someday her and I can wear our matching dresses if we care to. (You can see my gingham washi dress here.) I'd better jump at that chance before she gets much older, right?!? :)

I also wanted to take a moment today to say thank you to those of you who left kind comments about my finish it up Friday break. Thanks for understanding and for making it such a fun event for so long. I sure appreciate it!

Happy Monday to you!

Friday, June 01, 2018

two of a kind

Welcome to finish it up Friday!

I want to start this week by saying that this will be the LAST week of finish it up Friday for the summer. I need to step back and take a breather. Did you know that I started finish it up Friday in October of 2011? That means we've been at this finishing business (with the occasional hiatus during my social media breaks) for almost 7 years. That's CRAZY! Also, that's a LOT of finishes! I'm very much looking forward to the break from finish it up Friday so I can spend more time with my kids this summer. I do plan to keep blogging, if I can find time to sew, that is. :)
Speaking of finishes.....I have a PAIR of quilts to share today.
When I was making my epic Heather Ross quilt, I was actually working on two at a time. I made one to keep and one to give to a friend. I'm so glad I did!
Each of the quilts is a twin size, measuring about 67 1/2" x 91". I used my Easy as Pie tutorial (available here), but I expanded it to make a twin size rather than a lap size. I LOVE the simple pattern because it was QUICK and easy to put together and it lets the fabric shine.
The quilts are identical on the front, but the backs are slightly different. I used a mixture of the same two fabrics for the backing, but I alternated the arrangement of the fabrics. I used cotton lawn from Heather's line Sleeping Porch, which I found on clearance, (bonus!) and I knew that they would make beautiful backings. The combo of the orange and cream colors reminds me of an orange creamsicle. It carries out the summertime feeling of the quilts. Also, the lawn is lightweight and DREAMY!!!! It quilted up beautifully.
I quilted them both with loop de loop quilting on the baby lock Tiara that I still have on loan. I used 50 weight Aurifil thread-color 2026-which is a lovely creamy color that blended with all of the fabrics quite nicely.
Normally I don't use a light or white binding for a quilt, but these bright yellow dots were a perfect match to the colors in the quilt. It is smooth and lightweight, so it was a delight to hand stitch down to the back. (Hurray!)
This cute lined fabric (Fine Lines by Michael Miller) works perfectly for labels. You can see the backing fabrics better in this photo, too.
I gifted the quilt to my friend yesterday and I'm happy to say that she LOVED it!!! I also enlisted her to help me take quilt photos after I gave it to her, because I'm nice like that. Hahaha! :) As you can see, it was a little bit breezy down by the lake.
I especially love this's the epitome of a Minnesota summer. I am soooo pleased that these quilts are done NOW so that they can be enjoyed and used all summer long.
That's it for me today! Please link up your finishes for the week. Thank you, as always, for joining me for finish it up Friday!