Thursday, April 30, 2009

more scraps

I'm making another scrap quilt, this time with blues, reds, creams, and some yellow. Oh and some natural linen scraps too. I'm just working on this as I do other projects, these are pieced at the ends of my chain stitching so I don't have lots of thread tails to cut off.

I also wanted to show the skirt and hoodie I made for my niece while she was here a while back.

Ottobre design, issue 6/2007.

Skirt is from Ottobre 4/04. I also made a pair of pink shorts for her to wear under the skirt, again from Otto 4/04.

This past week I also made a blanket and burp cloth for my cousin's sweet new little baby. I have no idea if she reads this blog, oh well. I love this tiny pirate print flannel. I bought the fabric way before I was even pregnant with her, because if I was going to have a 3rd boy he needed this fabric. I decided my girl baby needed a pirate blanket even though it's not "girly" fabric.

There are a couple other projects going on that I'm not ready to share yet. But I've been having fun and enjoying cool fabric.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Noah's Ark Quilt aka secret project #1

Well, it took more than a year from start to finish, but I finally got my niece's Noah's Ark baby quilt finished and sent to her.
Last year, my sister announced her pregnancy and soon after decided she would be having a Noah's Ark themed nursery. I've made baby quilts for all my nieces and nephews (well, except for two who came into the family as older kids) and I looked all over for Noah's Ark fabric but I couldn't find any. I got out my copy of A Quilter's Ark by Margaret Rolfe, and thought about using her paper piecing patterns to make a Noah's ark quilt. I talked to my mom about it and decided I would go for it. I changed the pattern in the book, which uses 4-inch square animal blocks, to a simpler one with 16 animals, all pieced in 6-inch blocks. I planned on making the ark block a bit smaller than the one in the book as well. So I got some striped and pink fabrics, and made my first couple pairs of animals (zebras and flamingos). Then I got pregnant with my baby and lost almost all the energy I had for sewing or anything besides resting a lot and barely getting by.

I ended up working on the quilt off and on a little bit during my pregnancy, and then bit by bit in these last months since my baby has arrived (she's 6 months old now!) (I better get going on a baby quilt for her!)

So, our other sister was coming out to see me this month for her spring break, and I decided I would finish up the quilt so she could take it back to Utah and give it to baby Natalie. I'm pretty sure I had it pin basted when Shelly got here. I started out with machine quilting the sashing.

I had thought I should probably hand quilt the animal blocks. But I didn't want to. I told my mom I thought they wanted to be hand quilted, and she thought it would be ok if I machine quilted them. But then... I didn't have quilting thread in all those colors, and, well I actually went ahead and started machine quilting one of the lions with an echo-quilting design. And I hated it. I picked it out (I've never unpicked quilting before, I don't think) and decided it was going to be hand quilted.

I worked on the handquilting, a lot, while Shelly was here visiting. I thought I would get it done. I had also promised to make some clothing items for Shelly's kids though. After a couple days, it became clear I wouldn't be able to send the quilt back to Utah with Shelly on the plane. So I went ahead and sewed up her daughter's pink camo skirt and pink-heart-shaped-leopard-print hoodie (pics of those another time). She went home (miss you!) and I finished the Noah's Ark quilt a few days after she was gone.

The animals are pieced mostly from scraps I had on hand, and some with new fabrics I bought specifically for the project. The sashing is JoAnn linen blend, scraps from maternity pants I made for myself when I was pregnant with Jacob, who's almost 5. Hand quilting was done with 2 strands of embroidery floss, various colors. This was my 4th quilt to have this rainbow binding fabric. It's officially all gone except scraps now. I got my first spool of Superior thread for the machine quilting, and I kind of like it. It's a very slightly variegated natural color and it's a bit heavier than regular sewing thread or the silk/cotton Mettler thread that I use sometimes for machine quilting.

The project was kind of discouraging at times, especially in the middle when it was taking so long. But finishing it up and seeing how it looked as I did that hand quilting was kind of fun. Kind of exciting. My fingers hurt really bad after all that hand work though. It feels really good to get a big project like this all done.

(You can see all the pictures at my flickr account, even super-enlarged, if you want. Link is in top-right corner.)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

10-10-10: A Life Transforming Idea

This review is part of the MotherTalk blog tour for Suzy Welch's new book 10-10-10: A Life Transforming Idea. I enjoyed the book--it was a fairly quick read, and the main concept of 10-10-10 makes sense to me and seems like a good way to be conscious and present when making decisions about life. In a nutshell, when faced with a decision, consider the effects of your choices in the next 10 minutes, in the next 10 months, and in the next 10 years.

You don't have to really be that literal about it though; 10-10-10 is a catchy way to remember to think through things and possible outcomes in the immediate future, in the foreseeable future, and quite a ways down the line. In her book, Welch discusses the basics of "10-10-10-ing" followed with examples and discussions applying the thought process to work, love, family, and friendships.

Reading 10-10-10 helped me consider some situations in my life a little more deliberately, maybe even more objectively. I don't think 10-10-10 will necessarily make difficult decisions become simple or easy (and it doesn't claim to), but it does provide structure for pausing, taking a little bit of time, and thinking things through completely while considering the right now, far in the future, and also, time along the way. I liked 10-10-10 and think it could be useful to anyone wanting guidance for living a more clearly and thoughtfully.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Finished Churn Dash Quilt


I finished up the Churn Dash quilt, oh a couple weeks ago, and washed and dried it. It came out really nice and crinkly and snuggly. It is quilted with swirly circles and a few stars. I did scrappy binding with mostly reds, and some chambray blue too.

I wanted to show my Paper Dolls fabric that arrived the other day. It is so gorgeous and I'm excited to make some dolls out of it for my sweet girl when she is a bit older. The dolls are about 8 inches tall, way bigger than I'd expected from seeing them online.

And look at all the clothes. Aren't they sweet?

These fabrics are by Sheryl Marquez, by Windham.

Quilt Festival

I was hoping to have secret project #1 ready to share for the Blogger's Quilt Festival that Amy at Park City Girl is hosting. The good, great, wonderful news, is that I put the last stitches in it today, and I even labeled it. The bad news is that I'm not going to post photos of it until the recipient gets it. So... sometime next week.

Anyway this is a bit of a recent repeat, but my scrap quilt with the purple border is my festival quilt.

I made this at the beginning of this year, after a long year of not quilting much at all. I blogged about it here. Right now it is lying across the bottom of my bed, on top of our aqua and white bedspread. I'm liking the lavender and aqua together. I really like the border, and I think it's kind of funny that I had so many different purples that are so similar.

I really like the back, too.

In other sewing news... I found out about the FabShop Hop last month and went crazy hunting for bunnies at a bunch of online quilt shops. The grand prizes in March were 50 yards of fabric, a new sewing machine, and a really cool storage caddy. I didn't win the grand prize but I got a happy surprise this week in my email--I won a $10 gift certificate to Hidden Country Quilts. They have lots of great quilter's quality kids' fabrics, and I decided to get some sock monkey fabrics for the big quilt I'm going to be making for Jacob later in the summer or fall months. I'm working on finding bunnies for the April hop too, maybe I'll win again!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

busy busy

I have been madly hand quilting for two days. I didn't think I was going to hand quilt but this project called out that it needed some handwork. Park City Girl is hosting a Blogger's Quilt Festival starting this Friday and I really hope to be ready to reveal secret project #1 as my quilt to share.

Today I also cut out some clothing items for my niece and nephew who are visiting. Pink camo, pink heart leopard print, and boy space and fire truck prints.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

sewing basics--choosing a pattern

I've been thinking about doing a series of posts about sewing basics. I want to share some of the going-by-the-rules, "classical" sewing steps that I learned while I was growing up, as well as some of the internet resources that are really helpful to me now.

So, here goes! There are free patterns and tutorials online for all kinds of projects, but I'm going to talk about making a project where you need to buy a pattern. What we used to do in the old days was go to the fabric store, sit down at the pattern books area, and thumb through the pattern book until I found a pattern I wanted to make. Then Mom and I would look for fabric, and buy the pattern, fabric, and notions and then go home and I'd start my project. Now, I don't live so close to the fabric store, and I have small people that don't love fabric shopping, so I search for patterns online. The "big 3" pattern companies, Butterick, McCall, and Vogue, are all found here. You can pick a pattern brand and then search their pattern catalogs by category. Simplicity and New Look pattern catalogs are also available online here, and you can find Burda patterns online as well. This pretty much covers the patterns you can buy at JoAnn or Hobby Lobby. We also have a Hancock fabrics near where I live and they sell KwikSew patterns there along with the others. So--find a pattern you like, or a few, and write down the brand and number. Next, you can go to Pattern Review and search for reviews of the patterns you like. Pattern Review is a great website where you can find out other people's experiences using the patterns you are interested in. You'll find out if the sizing was off, how the directions were, and what others have done for altering the pattern for better fit. You'll also get to see pictures of other people's finished products. Using the resources at Pattern Review, you can determine which pattern you want to buy.

The next step is going to the store to buy it. For big 3 patterns, I like to wait for a sale. You can sign up at JoAnn and Hancock's for mailers, and then get notification of all the sales. I don't buy patterns from these stores unless they are on sale. Usually when there is a pattern I want to buy, I only have to wait a few weeks before that particular brand is on sale, usually for a dollar or $1.50.

There are lots of other patterns in the world besides the big 3, and you can also read reviews of these patterns at Pattern Review. I use Ottobre Design patterns a lot for kids' sewing, and I've also used Jalie and Kwik Sew too. Here are Pattern Review's top patterns of 2008.

Coming soon--shopping for fabric. Fun!

Friday, April 03, 2009

Churn dash quilt progress. And a couple other things.

I finally got some time to post pictures. Here's the Ottobre dress I made for L. It's cute, and looks cute on her, but I don't love how wide it is. If I make another dress like this, I will probably go ahead and use the lap shoulder tee pattern with a narrower torso fit and improvise it a bit to make it into a dress. Also, I shortened the sleeves about 3/4 of an inch. Even though the dress looks so wide, it fits well through the shoulders and neck. I really like the Baby Lulu fabric this is made from, it is a ribknit with good body.

I got six of the March blocks done for the Twiddletails BOM. A lot of orange, and I thought I didn't have enough oranges. I have fabric picked out for 3 or 4 more. I'm out of solid white fabric except for some small scraps, so I'm going to use some white on white prints I have. I think they'll look good.

And I'm ABB (all done but binding) on the churn dash quilt. I'm almost halfway done with handsewing the binding to the back side. The picture of the front was taken by a 4-year-old. I had fun quilting swirly circles and occasional stars on this one.

I really like how the pieced back turned out. It was quick and fun to make, especially those strip stacks. I might have to be like all the cool kids and make a stacked coin quilt one of these times. This quilt is going to be sent to the Mountain Baby Blankets project.

The only thing bought recently for this quilt was the batting. It feels good to use up fabric I've had for a long time. Let me tell you about the blue bandanna fabric--it's from 1995 and it used to be a dress. It was really cute, but not quite the right fit for me, and definitely not the right style. (Empire waists aren't good on me.) I wore that dress at a sweet friend/roomie's wedding (we lived together for 3 school years) and maybe one or two other times. I like it much better in a quilt.

My next project will be finishing secret project #1. I will also be making more geese blocks. I will be starting secret project #3 (which isn't a quilt, and is actually 2 projects). I'll be making more dishtowels with my friends at church sewing group, and also probably cutting up a Martha Stewart tablecloth I got on clearance at Kmart... for another baby dress. This time I will check the width of the pattern before continuing with the project.