Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Quilt Blocks and a Little Announcement

Here are some things I've been working on the last little while:
half of my jellyroll blocks
This is almost half of my Punctuation jelly roll, all sewn up into these super easy blocks. I like making these because there isn't a lot of thinking involved, and they are very quick to make. Especially when you cut 4 blocks at a time. I will probably finish the rest of them in the next week or so and put together the quilt top. And this will be the first time I've bought a jelly roll and used the whole thing up. So far.

I have also felt the need to make some improvised scrap blocks. I have my scraps organized by color in big ziplock bags, and I had a little baggie full of those triangles that are left over when I make quilt binding. I decided to make some stars. And one shoo-fly block.
scrap blocks
I did something different with these--I only used scissors for any cutting that was necessary while I was making them. I have noticed a few quilts or quilt blocks made this way on flickr and have wanted to try it. These blocks aren't trimmed or squared up yet, and maybe I won't square them up, really, but I think they do have a little more organic, homemade look than blocks cut with a ruler and rotary cutter. My plan for these is to make a kind of scrappy improv quilt, maybe a row quilt. It's something I plan on taking my time with; I'm only making blocks when I want to and I have no plans for when it needs to be finished.

And now for my little announcement... in the next few days, this little blog will be having its 5th birthday! As a thank you to my readers, I will be having 5 days of giveaways, starting this Friday, April 1. I think you will like them. I hope so! See you then!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Review: Miss Scarlet's School of Patternless Sewing

A couple weeks ago I found out I was a winner in the Goodreads giveaway for Miss Scarlet's School of Patternless Sewing, written by the Crafty Chica, Kathy Cano-Murillo. I've known about the Crafty Chica blog and products for a long time and I loved the title of this book so I was excited to read it. And I loved it!

The book centers on Scarlet Santana, who is starting a Patternless Sewing class (doesn't that sound fun?) to help pay her tuition to a prestigious fashion design program in New York City. She has some trouble along the way with work and family, and grows and changes through the story, which has a great ending. (But I want to read more about her. Will there be more?) Another character, Mary Theresa, is in the midst of a crisis in her marriage and family, and she signs up for Scarlet's class to fulfill a requirement for her marriage counseling. The sewing class is the setting for new friendships and lots of fun, too, and I really felt like I got to know the characters.

I loved the descriptions of the sewing, fashion, makeup and hair. I felt like I was able to get a clear picture of each character in my mind. Scarlet is really beautiful and people who don't know her don't see her insecurities. She has a real retro vibe and drives a cool car, too.

I got a huge kick out of the fact that blogging, the internet, video chatting, smartphones and other parts of modern life were a part of this novel. Scarlet is the author of a popular blog and has an etsy store, and they were just a natural part of the story, nothing forced or explained, which I loved.

I don't know if it was the writing or the southwest setting (Arizona in this case), but the Crafty Chica's writing reminds me of some of Barbara Kingsolver's earlier books, which are some of my all time favorites. I'm going to see if my library has Kathy Cano-Murillo's first book (Waking Up in the Land of Glitter) and read it too. She did a fabulous job with Miss Scarlet's School of Patternless Sewing and if you sew and especially if you blog about it, you should read this book!

Disclosure: I was given a free copy of the book, and not compensated for my review. Links to the book in this post are affiliate links.

Monday, March 28, 2011

9-patches from my past

Hi! Hope everybody had a great weekend! Some of the things that kept us busy over the weekend:
*Getting things ready for a kids' consignment sale (I get to go shop early, tonight!)
*A mini date with my husband (that included dropping stuff off at the sale, and dinner too.)
*Family bonding=cleaning the basement/tv room.
*Signing us up for my job chart. In just 2 days it's already made a big difference. I read about it on V and Co. a while back. Thanks, V!
*Reading a good book, one that included stuff about sewing! And blogging! I'll share more, soon!

So, since I finished up my most recent 9-patch quilt top, I've been wanting to show off some of my early quilting projects. I have been wracking my brain and can't remember exactly when I made this quilt top, but I did it on my own, with no rotary cutter and my mom's scrap stash, when I was either 14 or 16. It was after my grandma helped me make my "ugly" polyester quilt but it might have been a couple years after, not that same year. Anyway. Here it is:
beginner 9-patch
I know, pretty sad, huh? I think I may have made a template out of cardboard but even then I didn't do a very good job. Oh well. So, do you think I should keep it like this for posterity, or quilt it up and let my daughter play with it? I think it would look better quilted. I do love the memories that some of these fabrics have behind them--a couple dresses mom made for me and a baby toy she also made are all represented in this little beauty. :)

Fast forward several years to when I was starting to be a real, beginning, quilter:
red/blue 9-patch baby quilt
I've liked the 9-patch block for a long time! This is my oldest boy's baby quilt. He's almost 11 and I think I made the quilt in 2001. The pattern for this quilt is from Quilts! Quilts!! Quilts!!! : The Complete Guide to Quiltmaking (affiliate link) by McClun and Nownes, the first quilting book I bought. I quilted a star in each 9-patch:
red/blue 9-patch quilting closeup
They are a little hard to see and don't look as bad as I thought they would. They are pretty crooked and I remember being really frustrated at the time that I wasn't able to do a better job. I still feel like every single time I do free motion quilting, I get a little bit better at it, and I want to encourage anyone out there who is afraid to try free motion quilting, to just give it a shot. Make some potholders or doll quilts or just practice on muslin quilt sandwiches that you plan on throwing out later. You will get better with practice. I have a free motion quilting tutorial that I wrote up a while back that might be helpful, it might be helpful if you are new to free motion quilting. :)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

101 Patchwork Projects + Quilts!!

I was so excited to get an email about 101 Patchwork Projects + Quilts this morning! If you haven't heard about it, it's a new magazine published by Interweave, the amazing folks behind lots of cool magazines including Quilting Arts and Stitch. I had been wondering what the cover would look like... isn't it pretty? You'll be able to get your own copy on newsstands in just a few weeks, or you can preorder it here. You can also get a sneak peek of the table of contents, and see photos of 2 of my 3 projects that are included in this issue! Ok I'm going to call my mom now, and tell her about this. Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

some quilt blocks and a quick project

punctuation quilt blocks
Just because I had to start another project.... I got a Punctuation/American Jane jellyroll a couple weeks ago and saw a quilt made from these blocks and haven't been able to get them out of my mind. They go together so fast! I made 10 of these in less than an hour this morning. Each block is just three 2.5" squares and 2 strips that are 6.5" x 2.5". I love the tickets.

Also I did this yesterday:
ribbon hem capris
These thrift store jeans were too long and too flared so I cut them off and hemmed them with ribbon. It only took about 20 minutes to sew the ribbon on. Do you want me to make a tutorial for how to do this?

I finally got some fusible stuff and eyelets/grommets so I can make the ABC book from Moda Bake Shop. I have the letters and batting cut, I'm ready to go!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Rainbow 9-Patch Quilt Top

rainbow 9-patch quilt top
I finished getting the last borders on this last night. I pieced that square border randomly, at least I tried to, and there were lots of little segments that I didn't really like during the making process. This picture gives me some distance though and I really like how the border looks! And the rest of it too. There is that dark section in the lower right hand corner that I don't totally love, but overall I am happy with the rainbow effect and the bright colors. The quilt is kind of wrinkly/ripply in this photo but that's just because I was hurrying to get the picture before the wind blew! It went together really straight and smooth, if I do say so myself.
I am going to take a break from 9-patches after this one for a while. But that doesn't stop me from thinking about the next one. Next time I am planning on doing some limited color palette but I don't know which colors, yet. Ooh, and maybe gray sashing fabric, too.

If anyone is interested in making a quilt like this, I followed the quiltalong on Amanda Jean's blog. But this quilt only has 48 blocks instead of the 70 she used.

I have a couple of 9-patch projects from my past that I'm going to show you in the next couple days. One of them is really bad... just wait and see.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Rainbow 9-Patch

I'm getting ready to finish up the top of my rainbow 9-patch quilt.
9-patch rows and sashing
I have all the white sashing and border strips cut. I just measured and cut the horizontal sashing and am going to start pinning (not my favorite, but it helps everything go together right) and sewing right away. This is the part that kind of takes a long time. Then I need to determine if I have enough 2.5" squares for the border, and if not, I'll need to pick some out of the leftover pile from the last quilt.

I think for this one, I will do an allover quilting pattern with white thread. I am going to do a new design though. I'll have to spend some time doodling and see what I come up with.

Friday, March 11, 2011

No Prints Allowed/Jane Stickle 9-Patch

Last night was the big reveal of our guild's No Prints Allowed quilt challenge. Back in December we were given charm packs of Robert Kaufman's Kona solids. The challenge was to make a quilt using at least a little bit of every color and not adding any print fabric.

Here's what I made:
No Prints Allowed challenge quilt
I had been thinking about making my own version of the Jane Stickle quilt for a while... I decided this challenge would be a good time to try some of the blocks. I made 16 blocks from the pattern book, all 9-patch variations. One of them had a little bit of hand sewing (top right block), all the rest were sewn by machine.

Here's the back:
No Prints Allowed Quilt Back
I thought about hand quilting it at first; I have done that on a lot of the smaller quilts I've made, but in the end I decided that would be crazy and take too long this time. I had fun with the machine quilting and am really happy with how the quilt turned out!

Here's a closeup of the quilting, with a quarter to show the scale (sometimes it is hard to tell from a photo how big these kinds of things are):
No Prints Allowed quilting closeup
I strip pieced those tiny aqua 9-patches! I strip pieced several of the blocks actually. Anina's That Quilt blog is a great resource for the Jane Stickle quilt; she has posted directions for making each and every block on the blog and I am grateful for the time and effort she has put into it!

Here are some other blog posts about last night's meeting:

Deb Rowden's report on our guild, I think it was her first time coming.
Carla talks about her quilt and has pictures of several quilts from last night.
Nikki's entry was an art bag to hold big art projects made by her kids.
Jenifer's quilt "Don't Lead Where I Won't Follow"

The quilts were all so beautiful! Thanks again to Robert Kaufman for the gift of the charm packs!

Monday, March 07, 2011

A skirt I made and some other stuff

on the border skirt
So I made this skirt for my girl; it's the On the Border skirt from Little Girls, Big Style: Sew a Boutique Wardrobe from 4 Easy Patterns (affiliate link). It's really cute and it was easy too. A couple of things--it's very wide and a tad shorter than I like on her. I had a mistake while cutting so the lower tier is basically the width of my fabric, and I made the yoke pieces about 1.5" narrower than the pattern recommended as well. I am probably making it again--well, the apron skirt version first--and I will keep the width the same and make the lower panel an inch longer. Oh yeah, also wanted to mention I gathered the lower panel and the ruffle at the same time. It worked ok but probably wouldn't be a good idea on heavier fabrics.

I need to get or make leggings for her to wear under it for now, and then maybe bike shorts or something like that for summer. 

In other news... who knows about Pinterest? It was really confusing to me at first, but I figured it out. It's basically an online bulletin board for keeping track of cool things in various categories. I'm going to use it to keep track of all the quilts I want to make, all the cool shoes and bags, and probably other stuff too. After I signed up, I had to wait a few days for an invite, just so you know. You can follow my boards here, ok?

Other than that, I hope you're having a good Monday and I gotta go get the boys from school! We started watching The Fellowship of the Ring as a family last night and I think we're going to watch the rest of it tonight. 

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!

I was helping out at my boys' school this morning and got to take a peek at the Seuss Cafe. This thing sounded cute when I first read the information sheet my 5th grader brought home. But it was even better than I expected--totally stinking adorable, and fun, and just so sweet to see in person.
Seuss Cafe 3
This is the entry arch, photo taken from the inside. (It's really small.) They had the main library lights off and this sheer fabric hung from the ceiling around a center "cafe" area. Twinkle lights and bobbly Seuss-like things were hanging down too. Tables were set up with tablecloths, centerpieces, and menus. 
Seuss Cafe 1
The fifth graders wore white shirts and dark pants and were given Dr. Seuss hats and bow ties to wear when they worked their shifts at the Cafe. They presented the kids with the menu and while the kids who were being read to picked out their choice of story, the 5th grader went and got them a cookie. Then the 5th grader got the book and read out loud. All the kindergarten through 4th grade students got to participate in this over 4 days this week.
Seuss Cafe 2
This is my 5th grader reading Arnie, the Doughnut to a first-grader.

I love that my kids' school encourages reading the way they do (we keep track of minutes read, and they can read anything they want, for a fun yearly challenge) and that this event was part of their commitment to making reading fun!

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

What I'm working on this week

I'm so glad it's March! This has been a challenging winter with more snow than usual and lots of kid illnesses as well. I really need spring to come soon; I'm glad it's sunny and warming up a bit today!

I've been working on a couple projects, one with a deadline:
"no prints allowed" sneak peek
This is for the KCMQG "no prints allowed" challenge--it needs to be finished next week!
Here's another peek at what I'm doing:
kona challenge sneak peek 2
(These are some of the sewable scraps and will be part of the back.) I'll reveal the whole quilt after our meeting next week (crossing my fingers that I get it done, I'm afraid I'm hand quilting again!)

I've also been working on this blouse for my girl:
toddler blouse in progress
I need to get buttons and ribbon for the front still but decided to get started. The bottom ruffle is ready to attach, and the gathering stitches are sewn in the sleeves too. It was a bit tedious marking and making all the pintucks, so I stopped after finishing them on the back. They aren't pressed yet because I want to remove the water soluble marker first.

My computer speakers bit the dust so I was listening to Pandora on my phone while I sewed. :) Makes it a little more fun, I think.

And these books came in the mail today:
new sewing books
I've looked through them both and there are some great projects in them. I am looking forward to making the little knotted jumper top or dress and probably a skirt from Little Girls, Big Style. Also I think I'm finally going to dive into shirring; I've only tried it a couple times before. I have a huge cone of elastic thread and I love the shirred look on some of the blouses in this book. And Amy's done a great job with Modern Basics; maybe I'll use one of her patterns for my sister's new baby who's arriving at the end of summer.  

How about you? What are you working on? Are there any signs of spring where you are yet?