Sunday

Kid's Activity Bag

Toy sackThe tutorial for this bag was featured on the Sew Can She blog in November. (It's actually a Nancy Zieman tutorial.) There are so many items featured on that blog that I want to make but can't seem to find the time.  This little bag took me less than 2 hours to complete which is a nice change of pace from quilt making. It requires 4 fat quarters but I found most of this in my stash where I just had to cut off a fat quarter.  I love how sturdy the sides of the bag are from the heavy duty stabilizer.  I think it will be a great little bag for my granddaughter Chloe to carry her little people around in.  I sure hope she likes it.

Friday

Christmas Tree Skirt

Quilted tree skirtI wanted to make a Christmas tree skirt for a few years now and I finally got to it.  During the holidays it always seems difficult to find time for stuff like this but I am learning to cut out the unimportant and concentrate on just the simple most important things.  The ability to say no has helped me say yes to some really fun things. 

So I found this tutorial on the Sew4Home site and it was really easy to follow. The step-by-step instructions were perfect. Here is the link to the tutorial. The only changes I made are instead of sateen ribbon I made my own bias tape with a cotton print and instead of muslin I used some old white prints I had.  I did have to sew them together to make a backing large enough, but since it is never going to be seen, I didn't think it would matter much how the pieces looked.  I used some whimsical prints and added rick-rack to the bottom edge too.


Tuesday

Jeff's New Quilt & Those Felt Balls

This post was supposed to be about the amazing quilt my daughter made for her dad.  Since I took the photo in a place that is not very well lit, it is hard to see the yellow letters on the quilt.  But is says 'We love our Green Bay Packers'.  And it's true, we do love them. She did an amazing job between the piecing, the applique and the hand quilting, it was definitely a labor of love that took a very long time to complete. My husband really does love it.
However, I noticed that I got a good shot of the felt balls that I strung up for the holiday.  I tried to just take a shot of them just hanging there but between the shadows they created and the bad angles from not having enough room to step back far enough, it was pretty impossible to get a good photo of them.  So here, you can sort of see the Christmasy colors strung up over the dining room doors.


Sunday

Off Track Quilt


I finally finished the off track quilt. I used a wavy-stitch that I programmed into my machine which I hoped would be a good contrast to all the straight-line strips from the simple boxy pattern in the quilt.  I had a little trouble matching the backing fabric.  I didn't care what color the back was as long as it matched any of the colors in the Domestic Diva prints.  I ended up with pink as it was the closest solid color that matched. I think the wavy-line stitching looks really cool on the solid-colored back. Since this quilt is a gift, I had to hurry and sew the label on so I could shoot photos before the sun went down.  I didn't even take the time to trim the threads before the shots.  Once I got the photos, I trimmed the loose threads, placed it in tissue, put it in a box and wrapped it up and it's waiting under the Christmas tree for its new owner.




Wednesday

Wool Felt Balls

I ordered these little beauties from Etsy last week and they came in the mail today.  I couldn't wait to touch them and see the vibrant colors up close and in person.  They sure are pretty.  This weekend the red, green and white ones will become a garland on the fireplace mantel.  All I have to do is decide what to use to string them with.  Should it be twine or embroidery floss or maybe some perl cotton?  Not sure yet but it will be fun to figure it out.

New Inspiration

 oI feel a little greedy about these books I got in the mail today. Yes, there are lots of them and I ordered them all at once. Such decadence. Yet I feel like I have enough to work with in these books that I will not have to order a pattern for anything. Ever. At least for all of 2013. And that is how I justify them in my mind.

The great thing about these books is that I paid close to nothing for them.  I did earn them but I did it through my Landmark Credit Union debit card.  I get points every time I use my debit card as a credit card.  When those point add up, I can trade them in for merchandise, travel credits and best of all, gift cards.  My husband has the same rewards points on his card but he only uses his card for gasoline and going out to restaurants.  I use mine for everything from groceries to clothing to paying other bills.  I have three times the point as he has.  And yet, I did not use my reward points to buy these books, I used his. I redeemed his points for a $50 and a $25 Amazon gift cards.  And he still has points left over.  It is an amazing no-brainer - it's like free money.  So between the Amazon gift cards, some leftover credits I had on my Amazon account and $26.43 cash, I got all these books. 
 
I feel a little like a squirrel hoarding nuts for the long winter's season.  I have plenty of inspiration on cold days to keep me going without leaving the house.  I can actually say I am looking forward to the long winter now that I have these babies.
 
Just so you don't think I am totally greedy, I am saving my rewards points to get a $250 Home Depot gift card for my husband.  He might as well enjoy the long winter too.

Monday

Poinsettia Table Topper

Christmas table runnerI got the pattern for this table topper in a quilting class I took at the local technical college 4 years ago.  I love the pretty reds against the white background.  I quilted it with white thread and at first I thought it was a bad decision but now that it's done, I like it.  This sure is going to be pretty on my kitchen table during the Christmas season.

Sunday

Riff-Raff Runner - Christmas Kit

Christmas Table RunnerI picked up this quilt-as-you go kit on clearance last winter at Racine's Sew N' Save.  Nothing like getting a bargain when it comes to quality fabrics and patterns.  I loved the dark, rich colors in the sample on display and thought I could get it completed during the long winter months.  Unfortunately once I brought it home I realized that since Christmas was over, I had no motivation to do it.  So I set it aside hoping I wouldn't forget about it when winter rolled around again. But now here we are with a new Christmas season beginning and am I ever motivated!  I remembered that I had this pretty little kit waiting for me.  I even remembered where I stashed it!  Thanks to my new fancy sewing room it seems everything is nice and organized and surprisingly it is staying that way. There's nothing like spending a cold Saturday, watching college football and sewing.  It's also nice to take a break from quilt-making to do a project that can be completed in a few hours.  I am so glad I got this done, I even know exactly where I am going to put it to show it off.

Saturday

Noah's Ark Baby Quilt

Quilts for KidsIn my determination to stay out of the malls and department stores today, I made this quilt over the Thanksgiving holiday.  No black Friday shopping for me, just a day in my cozy, warm sewing room with a project that I could complete by the end of the day.  I did most of the piecing during the week prior to the holiday, but the backing, quilting and binding was done yesterday.  The really cool thing is that I had all the fabrics in my stash so it was nice to get it done and get rid of some fabrics I had hanging around. Although I'm not totally crazy about the corner blocks.  The color blends a little into the border. 


Quilts for Kids
The block I used is from the Glorious Autumn Quilter's Block Party on the Quilting Gallery website. The block is called Maple Swirl and the designer is Sandi Anderson.  You can find her tutorial to make this block here.  It seemed like the perfect pattern to frame the feature fabric.
I'm not sure what I will do with this quilt. Maybe it will go to Quilts for Kids.  I did like working with the bright colors. 

Sunday

Khanh & Bonnie's Baby Quilt

I decided to make my son BJ's best friends a quilt for their new baby.  They are practically family to us so I thought it would be nice to commemorate their new baby with something personal.  Besides, the shower is next week and nothing on the baby registry jumped out at me.

Since they are a young, modern and stylish couple, some non-traditional colors were in order.  I fell in love with the cute little baby animals on this fabric and the latest issue of Quilts and More had a pattern that suited it perfectly.  The pattern is called Elephants on Parade. The fabric really needed a pattern that would showcase the cute little animal print.   I attempted to fussy cut the animals and frame them in patchwork, but it just didn't work. The complimentary fabrics also suited the pattern since the example had fabric with a stripey thing going on and this fabric line had a complicated pattern that could easily act like a stripe. Although the pattern called for another row of triangles along the edges, I thought it would take a way from the cute little prints. Plus I wanted it to be baby-sized (fit in a pack n' play).  I sure hope they like it.

Thursday

Splash Studio

Last night I went to an event at Splash Studio where we eat, drink and paint.  Splash Studio is a place in the Third Ward that combines a bar with art classes.  All the staff members studied work in college and have careers in art.  Jen had this event planned with her coworkers and she needed a few more people to get to the minimum number of guests necessary to hold the party. 

We all ordered drinks and socialized for a little while, then we got instructions from the staff.  We all donned art smocks and got some paint.  We were all painting the same thing so there were instructions on a chalkboard as to how much paint to put on our palettes. The paint was in gallon jugs with pumps to squirt the paint onto the palette. So the chalkboard instructed us to take 2 pumps of blue, 3 pumps of green, 1 white, etc.   We took our seats where the canvases were set up with a water container and 4 different sized paint brushes ready for use. 

The instructor started the class and we started with the blue sky followed by the green grass.  After painting those, we stopped to have pizza while the canvases dried.  Then we painted the clouds and trees. After that, we stopped for a drawing to win free drinks - again while the paint dried.  We finished up with the poppies and long grass.  The instructors took a group shot for their facebook page and we were on our way. 

Here are our paintings...

Friday

Pick-It Fences Quilt Completed

quilts n more
Pick-It Fences Quilt Top
My quilt is back from the longarmer and here it is! It measures 84" x 84", finished.  I used an orange print for the binding and I could not sew it on quick enough. I really wanted this sucker done!  I had to take a photo with a copy of the magazine where I got the pattern from.  Now I just have to decide what to do with it.

pick it fences
Pick-It Fences Quilt


Pick-It Fences Quilt Back

Monday

Sweetwater's Sewing Kit and Labels

Sewing Kit by SunshineSews
I completed the sewing kit I got on Etsy from Sweetwater.  I used the labels from August's label  crew club.  This is the grey version of the kit. I also bought the red and black versions. Not sure when I will make those but for now I have a nice little place to store things to take with me when I hand sew while sitting outside. 

Wednesday

Lucy's Ruffled Pillowcase

Sweetwater label clubI finished this pillowcase from a kit I bought from Sweetwater. It was one of the kits available to go with the July (or maybe it was August) Label Crew labels. The example on the pattern showed the good night and good morning placement of the labels but not the sleep label. And because I am finishing this pretty late in the evening, I'm too tired to decide for myself the best place for the label. Maybe after I "sleep" on it it will come to me. So for now, it is somewhat unfinished. I also didn't stitch the labels on yet, as I ran out of ecru thread. I do not know how that happened. I have hundreds (yes, that is plural) of spools of thread but no ecru. As if I need an excuse to go to the fabric store for more! So hopefully tomorrow I can truly complete the project and move on to the next.

Sunday

Zig Zag Quilt

Zig Zag QuiltI decided to quilt the Zig Zag quilt myself. I love my new walking foot and it makes the job so easy.  Since the quilt was made up with precise angles. I wanted to use a combination of straight lines and some curves ones as well, but I wanted it to still have a crisp look.  After paging through a magazine, I came across an ad for a drive along Route 66.  Just looking at the lines intersecting and how some were straight and some had a little curve to them, I was inspired.  So I took my queue from that map and made my straight, clean lines and some that curved like the road does on my travels.  The end result was a nice, neat finished quilt. I can't wait to curl up with it in my hammock in these last days of summer.

Saturday

Synchronized Squares Quilt

I finally decided to take my Synchronized Squares quilt to a professonal quilter with a longarmer.  I wasn't sure where to start when it comes to entrusting my quilt to someone. I didn't know where to start so I did the obvious, I googled it.  I found people who want a basted quilt and backing with the batting in-between, some who wanted all three layers separately, and some who didn't specify.  I didn't like leaving anything to chance so I got a referral from my quilt group. 
Quilt Along
I brought it in with the batting and backing as well.  The quilter explained to me that she only uses Quilters' Dream batting and that it must be purchased from her.  She went on to explain how Warm and Natural contains stuff in the fibers that can break the needle of the longarmer, or at least dull the needle.  So the Quilters' Dream didn't have those issues.  The prices weren't terribly out of range, so I didn't mind.  Then we went on to discuss thread.  She uses a heavier weight thread on the top and a lighter weight one on the back so the stitches don't poke through to the front.  After picking the colors for the front and the back, we moved on to the design.  That was really the hard part.  There are so many to choose from.  After paging through many designs, I settled on one that mimicked the swirls in the fabric I used for the backing.  I also learned that I had to make sure there was at least 9 inches of extra fabric on the top and bottom of the backing in order to attach it to the longarmer.  I had to take it back home and add more to the back.  After three weeks, I got it back, all basted, squared up and trimmed after quilting.  It is absolutely beautiful, she did a wonderful job.

Friday

Off Track by Cluck Cluck Sew

Off Track PatternOne of the patterns I picked up recently is Off Track by Cluck Cluck Sew.  Over the winter I purchased a bunch of jelly rolls on sale and it was time I found a pattern to start using them.  Off Track is a perfect fit.  It's modern and uses 2 and a half-inch strips, the pattern actually called for a jelly roll. I pulled Liz Scott's Domestic Bliss off my shelf and starting sorting the strips.  Some of the prints were really pretty and some were so-so.  That is one of the things I love/hate about jelly rolls - they get me to use fabrics I wouldn't normally choose and sometimes that's a good thing and sometimes it's not so good. The amazing thing is whether I love them or just kind of like them, in the end, they all go together wonderfully.

I dug out one of the 5-yard pieces of Kona cotton I kept in my stash.  (Yes, if there's a great sale on Kona, I will buy a neutral color in a large enough piece to either become the backing of a quilt or be used for filler between prints.)  Even though this is not a complicated pattern, I did struggle to make sure I had all the pieces turned in the right direction.  I also wanted to make sure I had the prints dispersed somewhat evenly - I didn't want to end up with an entire row of pinks.  I spent some free time cutting all the pieces at once. Then over the course of a week, I stitched the top together. I spent around an hour a day working on it, jsut before bedtime.  Amazingly, it was finished by the end of one week.

Wednesday

Sweetwater's Label Crew

Today I joined Sweetwater's Label Crew. I've been considering it for a while but it felt a little like adding something to my ever-growing to-do list.  And I really don't need any more obligations.  After some thought I realized that the only obligation to joining is to make something crafty or quilty and there's nothing  I like more than that! So why not? Besides, just because I get a pattern and some cute little labels doesn't mean I actually HAVE to make something with them.  I can always just keep them around because they are cute.  That's not so bad. So here are my first month's labels...

 And wouldn't you know it, I just had to go to their Etsy shop and buy the kit to make the pillowcase.  It should be a quick project that will look fantastic in my new sewing room. Especially in this pretty orange colorway.


Thursday

Sweetwater's Zig Zag Quilt

Sweetwater - Zig Zag Quilt Pattern - FREE SHIPPING with any other purchaseI bought the Sweetwater's Zig Zag quilt pattern quite a while ago.  Since then I've shopped and shopped for fabrics to make this quilt and nothing ever seemed right.  After weeks of searching for fabric, I realized my procrastination was because the fabrics that were used on the pattern were the fabrics I really wanted for my quilt.  Sweetwater's Reunion collection is beautiful. It is also much different from the pastels I usually use.
I ordered exactly what was used in the pattern photo except I chose a red print from that same collection for the backing. (My UPS man blog post has all the fabrics for this quilt in the photo.)
Amazingly, it didn't take me long to put this together.  I thought the triangles would mean trouble, but they were pretty easy to cut.  Over the course of the weekend, I ended up with a completed quilt top.

Zig Zag Quilt Pattern


Pick-It Fences Backing

A while back I made the quilt top, Pick-It Fences from an issue of Quilts N More magazine.  It used up many scraps from my stash (26 different prints to be exact).  I was lucky enough to have also used some strips from larger chunks of fabrics, not just scraps.  Some selvedges revealed that a few of the fabrics were manufactured as far back as 1986! I sure hold on to things for a long time.

Quilts and More Magazine
I decided to cut 8 x 8-inch blocks from the leftovers and let them sit until I figured out what to do next. Since the quilt top has lots and lots of white in it, I really wanted a lot of color in the quilt back. I incorporated white strips in-between the squares until I ended up with 5 rows of 7 squares.  That used up most of the bigger chunks of fabrics.  I still had a ways to go to have a piece big enough to back the quilt. I cut strips from the rest of the prints the same width as the white strips for a consistent look.  Since the strips were all different lengths, I sewed white on each end so that the print was exactly in the center of the row.  I ended up with 10 rows so I sewed 5 on each end of the patched piece.  So now I have a quilt back! I cannot wait to quilt it and sew the binding on.

Monday

Coins & Quilts - A new local quilt shop


We have a new quilt shop in our area called Coins and Quilts. One of the ladies in my church quilting group recommended this shop to me since I was looking for a quilter with a long-arm machine to finish one of my quilts. I looked up their hours which weren't very convenient for me (10 am to 5 pm, Monday through Friday). Since I work until 4 pm and the shop is more than half an hour away, I know it will be difficult to get there. And that's the last thing I want is a time crunch when in a quilt shop! So my first visit was on one of my afternoons off.

The shop is on Highway 100 in Greenfield, which is very busy and currently under construction making it more difficult to get to.  (I hate driving on a good day.) When I got inside I was greeted by the friendliest couple ever.  The shop is called Coins & Quilts because the husband is a qualified numismatic (coin appraiser for us who aren't in the business) and the wife is a long-arm quilter. Thus a marriage of hobbies was born.  The shop sells a wide variety of high-quality fabrics, patterns, notions and of course, quilting services.  The shop wasn't very cute or fancy, but it was new and I am sure in time, it will get prettier as more quilt samples get added to the bare walls.

As a novice to the use of a longarmer, I was treated with patience and respect as I learned the process that my quilt top and backing was going to go through to get the end result.  After spending lots and lots of time choosing a quilt design and thread colors, the estimate for the work was written up.  Surprisingly, it was very reasonable to me. So I left my Synchronized Squares quilt and backing in her care and look forward to seeing the results in a few weeks.

Saturday

Sampler Quilt Along Blocks 1 - 4

Here are the first four blocks for the Sampler Quilt Along. Each block has a cute summery name. One more, and I am all caught up!
Time for Ice Cream Block

Jump in the Pool Block

Peek Over the Fence Block

Play Hopscotch Block

Thursday

Sampler Quilt Along

Sampler Quilt Along by SunshineSews
Michelle over at Quilting Gallery is doing a beginner's quilt along where you make a sampler.  Each week a square is revealed so it's a mystery as to what will come next.  I stumbled on it during week 4 of the quilt along and even though I think I am slightly past the beginner stage, I really like the idea of making a sampler.  I could use up my black, white and gray collection and put the finished quilt on my sewing room wall or use it on my day bed. Make sense to have a sampler hanging around a sewing room, I think. So I gathered up my stack of blacks and whites and started making the squares. This is going to be fun.


Sampler Quilt Along, a photo by SunshineSews on Flickr.

Tuesday

Booster Seat Cushion

oil cloth toddler seatThis is the booster seat cushion that was recently featured on SewCanShe's blog.  Maggie from over at Smashed Peas and Carrots created this tutorial.  She used tablecloths that she picked up cheap and cut them up.  I went to JoAnn's and bought 24 inches of vinyl coated fabric - I think it was oilcloth, I didn't really care, I just thought it was cute and would work for this project.  As soon as I completed it, I tossed it on the floor next to my granddaughter.  She was instantly drawn to its shiny-ness then when she touched it she liked the gushy-ness.  It is a hit!

Friday

Love the UPS Man

This came by UPS yesterday.  I am going to make Sweetwater's Zig Zag quilt using their Reunion fabric line.  And I know how unoriginal that is, but I just love the quilt on the pattern cover.  I did get get a little variation on the backing and the binding so it will look a little different but I adore the bunting fabric and I have a thing for printed numbers, letters, and words on fabric.  (I am trying desperately to hold back from buying Lu Summers' line.) 
I also had to buy the fat quarter collection of Charlie Brown Christmas prints, not sure what I will do with it yet but everything CB is a must for me.  And I got a Designer's Choice collection while I was at it called 10 Little Things.  Something for children in bright fabrics is always fun to make.

The ironic thing is that I really need to stop sewing for a while.  My sewing table is basically finished except it needs to be urethaned.  With better weather to open windows around here, it is time I get it done. And after all, I will be better off when it's finished; it's the last thing to do in my new sewing room.

I love a good sale.  The Fat Quarter Shop offered gift certificates for 20% off for Mothers' Day.  So I sent myself one then ordered enough to get the free shipping and paid for it with my gift certificate.  It felt a little like double dipping on a deal but a deal is a deal.

Sunday

Fabric Basket

I made this basket from a tutorial from Pink Penguin.  It's a really small basket (9" x 6"), and I wish I would have used different fabric for the bottom.  The cute little students don't show like I wanted them to.  If it were bigger, I would have made sure the kids were visible when the basket is standing up. I will give it another whirl in a larger size. I think this would make a cute teacher gift.
patchwork basket

Tuesday

PatternFile Application Review

I found this app for my iPad called Pattern File. It seemed pretty cool. It's exactly as the name implies; it's a place to enter all your pattern numbers and the Pattern File database contains a photo of that pattern and all the yardage necessary (the same as the back of a pattern).  So I went to the website and set up a free account.  The account is free for 10 days, after that the price is $14.99 for the app and $4.00 per month fee.  Realistically, I cannot see spending that kind of money for a filing system when I can, although time-consuming, build my own using Access. At least with 10 days I can quickly give it a whirl. 

So on a Saturday night while watching the HBO movie of the week, I opened the program and started entering my patterns. Some of my patterns are very old but still useful so I will keep them for many more years. Surprisingly, the first number I entered was found in the database as a vitage pattern.  This is cool, it has the pattern envelope front and back just like what I was holding in my hand. So I started entering away. 

My excitement quickly waned when I realized that the stack of patterns that were found in the database was much smaller than the ones it couldn't find. So to give an accurate review, here are photos of my patterns.
These were found in Pattern File.
These were NOT found in Pattern File.
I would not recommend this software - too expensive and not useful without having all my patterns available.
I wonder if they will ever load these in their database.

Monday

A Blogger Giveaway - I won!

I love the sewing/quilting blogger world. It provides so much inspiration and ideas that sometimes it's all a little overwhelming.  Besides getting ideas for new quilt patterns or crafts, it's a great resource for buying fabrics and supplies as well.  My favorite added bonus is the giveaways.  I keep putting my comments on all those blogger sites in the hopes that maybe someday I will win something they are giving away.  Even though I don't expect to win, I am a little snobbish - I only enter contests where the item is somethings I really would use.
As it turns out, today is the day! I won an Aurifil thread sampler from Katy over at ImAGingerMonkey.  It was part of a giveaway from Katy's posting on the Zakka Style Sew Along.  Katy highly recommends the book and I had already ordered it before she offered up the items.  I sincerely thank her and all those blogger sewists for all they do to keep sewing and quilting alive and interesting.

Sunday

Patchwork Travel Neck Pillow

Quilted Travel PillowI recently came across a bag full of scraps left over from a breast cancer fundraiser quilt I made a few years back.  The pretty pinks were nice even though I've grown very tired of the whole pink ribbon thing.  (I mean no disrespect to survivors and I donate to the American Cancer Society regularly.)  Anyway, there was leftover pink fleece and lots of little squares of fabrics.

I remembered coming across a patchwork neck pillow that used little 3-inch squares of a variety of prints and it seemed like this fabric would fit the bill.  I could use the fleece on the back and the pink ribbon squares on front.  After sorting the fabrics, cutting down the scraps and laying it out, I realized I could make a few of these. So this one will be the prototype for what might be something I could present to my church quilt group for future consideration or maybe even sell a few at my next craft fair.

So here it is, from the SewCanShe tutorial of the day...

Saturday

That's my girl!

Chloe loves to stay very close to her mother.  Even when her mother is sewing.  She is familiar with the needle going up and down and that when you turn the wheel on the side of the machine, that she can manually make the needle move.  I am so glad she is comfortable with sitting in front of the machine, it's a great start.  I look forward to her sewing with me someday.