Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Christmas Franken-patterning

It's one week (and one day) until Christmas, and I'm still wanting to start holiday sewing projects.  Ah, I know I'm just dreaming, but these dreams are so realistic... almost like they could happen!

Yep, in my mind, this is totally DOable.

I'm calling this a Franken-pattern: taking two ideas I have seen online and putting them together into a single project.  The project-to-be is an advent calendar--something Sweetie has sighed wistfully about every time we take out the holiday decorations.

First part: the backdrop


A pieced tree, seen here in a picture from Barbara's blog Cat Patches.  The pattern, "Oh Christmas Tree", comes from the book Creative Scraps: Quilting with Bits & Pieces, by Jeanne Stauffer and Diane Schmidt.

Part two: decorating the tree

A modern tree, as seen in kit form on the Fabric Depot website.  I just keep returning to the website for this kit, pausing with my hand over the "add to cart" button--should I?  should I not?  I swear, they are gonna be out of stock before I finally make up my mind.

What last-minute crazy idea has you biting your nails?  Or are you just finishing up the handmade gifts?

Monday, December 15, 2014

Cute Border Variation

Seen recently at Something to Crow About: a very cute border for their Buck-a-Block BOTM for 2014.

Kennette, the shop owner, said she saw it in a book somewhere and thought it would be a darling way to finish off the black/white/color-of-your-choice theme for this year's block of the month.  I am not participating this year, having stalled out bigtime last year.  Even though the black & white colors really appeal to me.  (Practicing restraint--not something I am known for.)

Don'cha love it?

Monday, November 24, 2014

Monday Knit Football

In an effort to be a supportive partner, I have been knitting on Monday nights in the same room where Sweetie is watching Monday Night Football.  This has worked out well as a companion activity.  My friend Tamarra often joins in--I am teaching her beginning knitting (which is about all I'm qualified to teach).

Here is two weeks' worth of my latest project--an earwarmer/headband.  Two weeks, you say?  Isn't that a very small amount to accomplish in two weeks?  (Especially if we're talking the length of time it takes to watch a football game--even fast-forwarding through many of the commercials.)

Two things:
(1) I'm slow.  This has been previously established on numerous occasions.  I blame ADD.
(2) This is knit in a ribbing pattern, with increases*** every other row, in the center of the row.

The pattern, available for free on T. Matthews Fine Art blog (and in a bulky-yarn version available here), uses four different increase patterns--M1B, M1F, KFB, and PFB.

***I don't know how to do these stitches.  So, each time I come to the increase, I have to re-watch the YouTube video that explains the stitch.  And maybe watch it two times, just to be sure.  And practice on my sampler (see how much of a perfectionist I am?)

Pattern: "Morning Walk Headband Earwarmer" found on Ravelry (links provided above)
Yarn: Rozetti Yarns Tempest
Needles: size 6

This will eventually be my project to link up with Barbara at Cat Patches for her NewFO linky party.  It is my new project for November--clearly won't be finished by the end of the month--no worries, winter is not even here yet.

Thanks to my sister for being my knitting cheerleader, and for teaching me about Ravelry.  Thanks to Tamarra for being a willing learner, and for not making fun of me when I have to go back to YouTube every other row to re-learn a stitch I just did 20 minutes earlier.  (And thanks to Monday Night Football for providing a convenient meeting place once a week.) 

Here's to learning new things!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Sunday Stash Bundle

Bought my first-ever fat quarter bundle, and it arrived in the mail this week.  So exciting!

I just love how it came all wrapped up like a present, with a bow and a tag and personalized twill tape.  Sigh--Moda.

Ten Little Things by Jenn Ski for Moda
Gracious, I don't think I really contemplated how much fabric is actually in a fat quarter bundle--31 fat quarters is almost 8 yards!  What have I done?

I am not generally an online fabric shopper, as my area has several LQS to choose from, as well as the well-stocked-but-not-quality-fabricked JoAnn's.  Plus, the mecca that is Fabric Depot is just up the interstate a bit.  However, I had bought a counting panel of Moda's Numbers with the idea of making it into a cloth book.  (Panel bought quite awhile ago.)  The cloth book idea featured a jelly roll of the coordinating Ten Little Things prints, also by Moda--which I just randomly went looking for about a month ago. 

several of the fabrics, gathered around a photo of the panel

I came to the realization that this fabric came out in 2012, and that fabrics just don't stay around in stores forever.  Internet to the rescue!  Didn't find a whole lot of this precut available online (in fact, when I started looking, I didn't find any jelly rolls), but a couple places had it.

And so I pounced...
Add to Cart

It has arrived: a delicious collection of dots, numbers, owls, trucks and asterisks.  In updated crayon colors.  I am smitten.

Molli Sparkles

Linking up with the fabulous Molli Sparkles for Sunday stash.  Yummy, y'all!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Technicolor Sky

I finished a quilt top!!!  In record time, too.

When last seen, the Bright Sky quilt was just the center star, but I had already started piecing the outer star--and I was just a tiny bit worried about the loudness of my color/fabric choices.

I finished the piecing at Stitch-n-Bitch last night (YAY for Friday nights with the gals!) and lemme tell you, it's not just loud, it's Technicolor.

Here it is, straight off the ironing board, being held up by the owner of my LQS (they really *are* a full-service shop: "I'll hold it up so you can take a picture for your blog.")

You might notice that I made some modifications to the original pattern. (Yes, I can complicate anything; thank you for paying attention.) 

Changes include:
  • outlining the outer star points with a contrasting fabric (loud Hawaiian print + leopard--how can that be wrong?)
  • adding a 4" white border to the outside of the outer squares
  • outlining this white border with a narrow strip of the floral from the inner star
  • continuing the white-and-floral strip along the diagonal of the corner squares
  • extending the top and bottom of the quilt to the edges of the additional border strips
 I wanted a more rectangular quilt; my finished size is about 75" by 64".

Technicolor Sky, 2014

I think it turned out pretty good--the fabrics seem to play together nicely, despite the obvious loudness of the green Hawaiian print.  The directional background fabric caused a little bit of fussing and extra work, but it looks effortless and almost-perfectly matching.

And I totally love the way I made an on-point frame for the whole thing.  Really wasn't sure how that was going to look, but it is so graphic and wonderful!

Best part: everything was made with stashed fabrics.  The Hawaiian and the background were the oldest--maybe 1990?--but even the newest (the center panel) was at least 7 years old.

I missed the Quilt Along for this pattern by a week or so, but that beats the heck out of lots of my previous sew-along adventures.  The winners of the quilt along were announced earlier this week, and all the participating quilts were linked up for your viewing pleasure.

 I am linking up with Can I Get a Whoop Whoop, hosted by Sarah at Confessions of a Fabric Addict.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Sunday Stash

Went to my favorite LQS last weekend for their Big Birthday Sale.  And, with wallet at the ready, I scoured for fabric.  I was prepared to shop with abandon.

No guilt, no need for this fabric to have an immediate use.  Just for the PURE JOY of buying fabric!

Moda Yardage

Vintage-y rulers: Pot Luck by American Jane Patterns (Moda)
Numbers on cream: Elementary by Sweetwater (Moda)
Berenstain Bears: Beary Happy Birthday (Moda)


And some fat quarters from the post-Halloween bin...
(unknown) Eyeballs in the dark
Trellis by Quilting Treasures
Orange-black stripe by ClothWorks

And one final fat quarter of (glorious) hedgehogs by Timeless Treasures!  How can you not be happy with a purchase like that?

So much angst in my life--I was blissful at this little shopping trip.  And so I am linking up with other joyful souls in celebrating lovely new purchases.

Molli Sparkles

(Welcome back, Molli Sparkles!)

One last glance at the Elementary fabric.  Can you guess why I had to have it?  As I tell my students:
"It makes my nerdy heart go pitter-pat."

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Next pattern purchase: Pros & Cons

In an effort to take myself to task for impulsivity and forever chasing the new and shiny, I am writing down this list of Pros & Cons on the two patterns I am currently salivating over.

Pattern 1: a quilt pattern called Big Quilt Blocks

I saw it on Sewing With Nancy; a two-part video is available online, as well as a pattern.

Pattern 2: a small organizer, the Sew Together Bag

Quilt Zone's version
I'm seeing this bag everywhere on sewing and quilting blogs lately.  (Most recently in the T'was the Night blog hop hosted by Sew We Quilt.)  It has 3 inner zipper pockets, and a very clever way that the outer zipper forms handles.


Neither pattern is going to break my bank--even bought together I would spend less than $25.
The bag pattern is something I can envision making several times; I see it even being a Christmas gift (this year!)
The quilt pattern makes an excellent setting for a t-shirt quilt; I have a recipient in mind for such a quilt.

Cons/Reality check:

How many new patterns have I purchased this year?
How many new books have I purchased this year?
How many UFO's and WIP's do I have laying around?
Do I have a solid intention of making either of these patterns anytime soon?
Since I am considering the bag pattern as a Christmas gift, which other potential handmade Xmas gifts will be abandoned in order to work on this bag?
What possible bad thing could happen if I don't buy these patterns now?  Will they not be available later?

Well, that last question really is the voice of reason: what's the worst that could happen if I don't click on over to buy these patterns? 

What should I do?  How useful are these Pro & Con lists for controlling my impulsive, novelty-seeking behavior?  (One of my recent ADD books recommended using them.)  Do such lists work for you?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Prepared vs. Not

I am of the opinion that Life continues to hand you lessons, until you finally learn them.  I had another learning opportunity with the concept of
Be Prepared

today.  And I failed miserably.  So I'm sure I will have another opportunity to learn and practice this lesson in the future, right?

This was the time on the clock in my car as I pulled into the parking lot for a 7:30 meeting this morning.  My lack of preparation the night before, combined with Murphy's Law, put me one hour and 5 minutes late.  Ouch.

What it should look like
Oh, but I was so prepared before we left on our honeymoon trip to Europe this past summer.  (Sweetie kept me on track.) 

We packed a week before the trip--so we could add things we forgot as the week went along.  The itinerary, with all phone numbers, confirmation numbers, websites, secret-handshakes, etc. was printed out two weeks before the trip.  The dog-sitter was arranged two months ahead of time; the house was scrubbed and the refrigerator emptied out several days in advance.

I felt uncomfortable with everything done ahead of time.  I didn't know what to do with myself!  Shouldn't I have been racing around, doing those last-minute things that always leave me in a tizzy?  Um, nope.  They were all taken care of.  With lots of spare time for things to go wrong.

I had so much free time, that I managed to finish this scarf the day before we left for two weeks in Europe.  How crazy is that?!?!

Ok, so I just need to remember that lesson in preparedness:  if you plan for the worst, then you have lots of time to relax and play when the worst doesn't happen!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Colored Kitties

What a difference a bit of color can make!

How different than the pattern envelope

Let Sleeping Cats Lie from

I have had the Let Sleeping Cats Lie pattern in my possession for quite some time, but I couldn't imagine it in anything but browns or greys.  And those colors just haven't inspired me to want to make the kitties.  Even though they are uber cute.

So, I was quite pleased when I came across a shop sample of this very pattern at Forget Me Knots in Bandon, Oregon.  Now my imagination is stirred up!

I love me some 1930's reproduction prints--would the kitties look good in those fabrics?

Or, given that it is close to Halloween, and all things orange, black and purple are still floating about in my mind, could this pattern stand a full-on witchy color scheme? 

So many possibilities...  But I already have the pattern!

{Let me just hold onto these ideas, right here on the blog where I can find them again}

Monday, November 10, 2014

Bright Beginning in October

I succumbed to starting a new project in October: the Bright Sky quilt by Blossom Heart Quilts.

Got so excited about finishing off one of the items on my 4th quarter goal list that I skipped down to the bottom of the goals, where it said "Start something I am *excited* about" (aka do something for ME).  And that insistent ME person wouldn't quiet down until I cut into yardage from the fabric hoard (or is that horde?  Helpful grammar hint: If you have a hoard of something, a horde of people might try to take it from you.)  This quilt is being made entirely from long-time stashed fabrics--some approaching the 20-year vintage.

Hello there!

I used the no-waste flying geese method to make the center star points.  This method not only saves fabric (especially compared to the folded-corner method I often use), but ensured that my directional background fabric would automatically sort itself out.  The background stripes line up pretty good!

Center Star: approx 36"
Sweetie has commented that my fabrics are a bit loud.  Oh, Sweetie... fasten your seatbelt, cuz it's about to get really loud up in here.

The Outer Star is a Hawaiian print, bordered by your basic leopard (just to give it more presence).  Yep: LOUD.

So... I'm off on the new flight of fancy.  The link-up for the Bright Sky Quilt Along runs until Sunday.  Any possibility I could finish this top by then?  I highly doubt it, but stranger things have happened.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Waving "Hello!"

Border for the Ocean Waves wallhanging is done!

I am *in love* with this pattern.  I loved it when I only had the center complete, and I love it more now that it has a wacky, creative border on it.  I am even thinking about ways to quilt it so that my love par-tay will continue.

My border choice was this jewel-tone aqua batik that I have had in my stash for awhile.  But I didn't have enough of it to do a full border.  And, since the center portion was all scrappy, I was most definitely not going to go out and buy yardage for this task.  My friend (and LQS owner) Kennette said that I didn't want plain borders anyway--I wanted to keep the motion of the center panel of the quilt alive.

So here is my border solution:

continuing the piecing into a few selected portions of the border

adding a dark accent fabric in one corner

adding a light accent fabric in the opposite corner

showcasing a larger portion of the waves print

In the end, I used almost every last scrap of that batik.  Woot!  I am a genius--a thrifty, scrap-happy, not-gonna-take-no-for-an-answer genius.

Yeah, pretty darn pleased with myself.  Linking up with Thank Goodness It's Finished(!) Friday

hosted this week by Izzy at Dizzy Quilts.  Head on over and celebrate some finishes!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Q3 Results; Q4 Planning

The July-thru-September quarter is over.  Time to take a step back, celebrate my successes, and write down my plans for the October-thru-December quarter.  As I have seen in the past, having a list of goals is really a helpful thing for when my mind wanders off.

First, taking stock of THE LIST, that aspirational, numbered list I set out back in July.  How did I do?

1.  Finish piecing scrappy bargello wallhanging  Done!


This goal was all about finishing the center piecing.  Once that was done, I really slacked off on making any progress toward the borders...

2.  Final row of Relaxing Robin   Left out in the Cold

I cut out and started piecing some of the checkerboard border, but then decided I wanted to see things on a design wall.  And there it sits, waiting for the design wall to be available.

3.  Two more blocks for drama t-shirt quilt  Untouched

4.  Finish rainbow bathrobe  Done! 

Still haven't got the blog post together to celebrate and show off this project, but it was surprising how quickly it went together once I finally got going on it.

5.  Make three garments   Untouched

I might even say I made backward progress on this, buying yet another pattern (but no fabric!) and still not getting going.  Yet.

6.  Practice FMQ (placemats?)  Refocused

After reading many of the helpful posts during the Elven Garden's FMQ quilt-along, I determined that my little old sewing machine was really never gonna do me right when it came to FMQ: supremely tiny throat, no stitch regulator, no proper elevated surface.  I switched my short-term quilting goals towards using my walking foot.  And that process is going just fine.

7.  Quilt red/pink/black baby quilt  Made a Start

Pinned together the quilt sandwich and started with stitch-in-the-ditch. 

8.  Make a dent in the mending pile  Dented!

Did at least FIVE items of mending: hemmed three pairs of pants and two pair of capri's; made modifications to the neckline of a summer frock, mended a hole in a pair of pajamas.  Most importantly to the size of the mending pile: DONATED two items that I realized I wasn't going to wear even if they got mended.

And... Plans for 4th Quarter

Alrighty, on to plans for the 4th Quarter: October thru December.  Includes Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Holiday season seems to be hella-busy, but also has mega potential to derail any plans.  I just this week came across a super-cute advent calendar; shouldn't I embrace a new project like that?  (Or those Kente-cloth Wise Men that I have wanted to make forever?)

1.  Finish knitting bobble cowl

A friend and I started weekly knitting during Monday night football.  This cowl with bobbles has been my project for the month of September.  Close to finishing it. 

2.  Quilt red/pink/black baby quilt

Top priority for this quarter: finish this baby quilt.  Just need to complete the quilting (with my walking foot), and do the binding.

3.  Finish border for scrappy bargello wallhanging

Border for a wallhanging:  I'm setting my sights low here.  I'd rather aim low--and go on to start the quilting on this if I'm feeling it--than constrain myself.  Especially this busy time of year.

4.  Machine quilting on Barnyard play quilt

This on-again/off-again project renewed its possibilities in my imagination when I started looking at doing quilting of small projects using my walking foot, instead of the much-avoided FMQ.  No promises as to how far I will get, but *Inspiration* usually propels me forward better than anything else.

5.  Some Christmas sewing, perhaps?

How different this pre-holiday is from last year!  I had a plan last year, and I had mini-deadlines to keep me on track as I sewed and sewed on Christmas aprons for twelve family members.  This year?  Well, there are ideas and some steps taken on the four items pictured, but no concrete plans yet to complete any one of them as a Christmas gift.  I will just have to see what I am feeling as December approaches.

6. Start something I am *excited* about

I have gotten excited about so many possible projects in the past four months.  I keep putting off starting something new until I feel like I have finished "enough" of the current WIPs...  Lest I just add to the UFO pile, abandoning a partially-completed project rather than power through a difficult or tedious step.  So I'd like to keep the door open to some December project that has made me swoon recently.

Embarrassing what is NOT on this list for the quarter:  drama t-shirt quilt, Relaxing Robin flannel quilt, and mending.  Sorry guys, you just didn't make the cut for this time of year.

Only SIX items for three months?  Am I setting my goals too low?  Nah.  My day job is super-crazy-busy this year.  So much that I often feel like I have no energy for things like hobbies.  I'll just keep plugging along on my long-term projects; maybe I'll have a couple finishes by December.  That's always a nice feeling.

Finish Along 2014

I thought I would link up to Finish Along at The Littlest Thistle for this quarter, but I see that the deadline has passed.  Oh well: this quarter's list is just for me, then.

Do you make lists?  Are they realistic?  (This may be the most realistic I have been in quite awhile; normally, I think I am Wonder Woman when I set out to make a list.)