Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 Sewing Review

... plus one knitting project.

2012 Projects

Happy end of the year! It was a challenging year in a lot of ways, and I'm glad it's over. Glad I'm almost 6 months out from smashing my finger. (By the way, don't ever do that.) I'm excited for a new year; I love this time of year with the possibilities and new start.

Thursday, December 27, 2012


Hi! I hope you're having a good holiday season. Ready for the New Year?? :)

I got some cute pastel charm packs for Christmas and I've also been wanting to make paper pieced hexagons again. Here are some that I made yesterday:
Posy hexagons
I played around with some layouts in EQ and decided to make a heart, out of hexagons. Maybe more than one. Here's a long and triangular kind of hexagon heart:

heart hex1
(The big one, above, takes 59 hexagons. So you don't have to count.)

And here are some short chubby hearts: heart hex2
I like the pointy ones... but I also like the smallest chubby ones. I think they would be cute on a tiny quilt. Each one is made of just 13 hexagons. 

Let me know if you decide to make a hexagon heart!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Orange/Aqua Star Blocks

Merry (almost) Christmas! And Happy Holidays too! :)
I finished the handmade gifts that were going to make the mailing deadline and sent them off. A couple people are going to get Happy New Year gifts from me. So the last few days I've had some fun working on a star quilt I started a while back. Here's a shot of most of the blocks so far:

 star blocks progress 
I have finished 6 more blocks that aren't shown here, too.

I have been crowdsourcing advice on the color scheme for this quilt, trying to decide if I should add pink or not. I made up a block with some blush colored Mendocino octopi fabric, it's sort of peachy pink but has a dark orange octopus in it. So that color is in. I think. I'll have to lay the whole group out again next time it is light and we are home, and see how it looks.

We are excited for our 2nd annual Christmas Eve in Seattle traditions tomorrow; planning on visiting a fun beach and going to a very delicious restaurant too. I'm excited for Christmas and also happy for the solstice and the return of lighter days.

Also--it took me forever, but I finally uploaded photos of my November Believe Circle blocks. The theme this time was orange and gray improv:

November Believe block 2

November believe block 1
 Our group took the month of December off; I'm looking forward to next month!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Giveaway Winner! and Quilted Tote Bag

Hi everyone! The winner of one of my patterns for the Sew, Mama, Sew giveaway was commenter number 81, Allison from Dreaming in Patchwork. I've emailed her to confirm her pattern choice and will send her the pattern she chooses as soon as I hear back!

I also wanted to show off my new quilt-as-you-go tote bag. It was very gray here today so the pictures are kind of dark.

And the other side:
bag other side2 
I made it using the quilt-as-you-go process described on Elizabeth's blog. I used white thread for the quilting on the upper part of both sides of the bag, and navy blue thread on the dark bottom section.

Here's the inside:
bag interior 
I made a simple pocket with room for my phone and a few pens. 

Overall I am pretty happy with the bag but there are a few things I'd change if/when I make one again. The handles... I'm still not sure I like them all colorful and think they might be better made from one fabric. Also I think the bag would be better with the handles attached slightly closer to the center of the bag. At least the handles are both the same length and it's a good length. 

The lining isn't quite the perfect fit either, it's a bit too big, but I guess that's better than too small. I think next time I make a bag I'll cut the lining out to match the exterior pieces before assembling the interior. 

Here's a closer view of the quilting:
bag quilting
The bag measures about 13" high and 16" wide (with my church binder and books inside) and it's just the size I wanted. On to last minute Christmas sewing!

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Baby Quilt for Brayden

Recently a group of blogging friends and I finished up a group baby quilt for Natalia's baby boy. She was given the quilt last week, which means it's time to blog about the group project now!

So, in order, here's how we completed this group quilt, with participants on both U.S. coasts, as well as in Utah. :)

We used a design by Amy E (Amy's Creative Side), who adapted a pattern from her book, Modern Basics, to make it baby quilt size.

Candy, of Candied Fabrics, dyed the beautiful fabric for the quilt.

Amy E and Amylouwho completed the quilt top.

Rita from Mochi Studios beautifully hand appliqued the baby's name.

And when it got to me it was time for quilting.

First off I had to press the quilt back and top. Isn't this fabric amazing?
This is the back of the quilt. I love it.

And here's the front:
I love how the colors pop against the blue background. 

I decided to quilt a squared-off pattern that would be called "loopy" if it was done without the square corners. It was a new quilting design to me and it went pretty well, but it can be a challenge to quilt square corners when you're used to quilting curves. 
 (quilting action shot)

In the colored rectangles, I quilted outlines and X's, using my walking foot.
This photo, and the rest of the photos were taken after the quilt was washed and had shrunk up a bit. I like how the square loops turned out but next time I do them I will try out a larger scale. 

Also, I hand quilted around the letters using 2 strands of embroidery floss.

After the quilting was done, I bound the quilt using 4 of the fabrics from the colored rectangles (there wasn't enough turquoise, but it turned out fine without it.) Here's the finished project!

And the back:
It was fun to plan out this group project and to have it turn out so well! You can see the adorable baby with his quilt here!

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Giveaway Day!

Happy giveaway day! I'm going to keep this short and sweet since I know you want to visit all the excellent giveaways linked up over at Sew, Mama, Sew!

I'm giving away a PDF (electronic) copy of one of my two quilt patterns to one commenter. To enter, please leave a comment telling me your favorite item you've made this year. And which pattern you prefer if you win. The choices are:

Evergreen State (Christmas-y! Or not, try it in different colors.)
Evergreen State quilt

Or Ruffle Crush (cute ruffles, pattern includes two sizes of quilts.)

If you want more information about the patterns you can check them out at my Craftsy pattern store.

Also, if you are new to my blog, I just want to encourage you to bookmark/pin my blog and come back and check out my tutorials. I have a few clothing construction tutorials and quilting tutorials including how to baste, free-motion quilt, and bind your quilt.

Giveaway Details:

Giveaway will be open until December 7 at 5 p.m. PST.
Giveaway is open to everyone.
I will post the winner by December 9 and will email the pattern to the winner that day as well.
If you are a no-reply blogger, please make sure your email address is included in your comment so I can reach you if you win.

Thanks for stopping by, and good luck!

***Comments are now closed, winner TBA soon!***

Friday, November 30, 2012


I just finished up the September quilt for the Believe circle of Do good stitches.

September Believe Quilt 
The sun was actually shining for a few minutes so I got a shadowy photo. Maybe I should have waited 5 minutes.

For this quilt, I asked our group members for two blocks each in a pink/grey/red/black color scheme, using Jacquie's Orange Crush quilt as an inspiration for the block design, with just 2 or 3 colors per block.

I decided to make the quilt with 15 blocks on the front and 5 on the back.
September Believe quilt back 
The gray solid fabric and the print used for the main backing fabric are from Connecting Threads. I got another pink fabric from Connecting Threads too, but it was more coral pink than I wanted so I stretched the 2 yards of the shirting-like print with a horizontal strip of grey and the wide strip of blocks. 
(See, the clouds came and no more shadows by the time I took this photo in the same place.)

I machine quilted it with rows of wide figure-8 swirls. Thread is Isacord from my LQS.
Sept Believe quilt detail 
This was a quick way to get the quilting done. It took some time to get used to quilting on this scale; usually I quilt smaller. It was fun, too.
Here's what the quilting looks like on the back:
Sept Believe quilt back detail 
 It feels good to have another finish for the year!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Mini Zig

I finished up my Mini Zig quilt, and am planning on entering it into QuiltCon's Modern in Miniature quilting challenge.

minizig on fence
I can't really explain how I made it; it was quite challenging to put together and I switched to a different construction method after making all the left leaning strips sort of like this: measure, mark, pin, sew on the line, press, cut, start over. For every single piece of each strip. Then I messed up on seam allowance when I started method 2 (angles make things different) and in the end replaced all of the pieces I sewed on the messed up way. I think I ended up with a reasonable technique for making this kind of chevron piecing that keeps the side edges of the strips on the straight grain of the fabric.


Here's the sketch I made before starting; I switched the colors around because my stash is low on reds. And I like blue:

The quilting is a mix of straight line machine quilting, free motion quilting, and a few rows of hand quilting. Here are some photos that show the quilting better:

minizig detail 4

minizig detail 3

minizig detail 1

And, the back:
I used the leftover triangles as leaders and enders, and then made them into the three little blocks on the back.There are still lots of larger scraps left over from this project, but the tiny ones are all used up.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Handmade Monday

Hi everyone! I hope you had a good Thanksgiving holiday (or a good weekend if you're not in the US.) My brother and sister-in-law and their kids came to visit us on Friday, and we had a Thanksgiving ham dinner which was pretty low key and also yummy. (Turns out if you wait until the day before Thanksgiving, it might be a bit of a challenge to find a turkey or even a turkey breast.) We made a charity quilt top that I will get quilted soon and I'll show here in the next couple days. And we watched movies and went to Snowflake Lane which was so much fun. They had Christmas music, high school drummers and tambourine players in festive costumes, and fake snow which totally looked real.

The internet can't stop talking about cyber Monday today, and this morning I saw news stories about how the big places' warehouses work (yep, they are super busy today) and the fact that people like to shop online at work because the internet's faster there. I thought I'd share a few suggestions of handmade gifts you can buy if you want something a little more unique or personalized or if you just like handmade better.

*Aunt June--Lauren is an amazing artist who has cool things in her shop, like a calendar tea towel, American Sign Language tea towels, and cute note cards.

*Candied Fabrics--Candy has a great assortment of handmade goods in her shop, including ornament houses, headbands, and iPad sleeves. She is also selling her DVD, Dyeing to Stitch, and a pattern for a convertible messenger bag.

*Blue is Bleu--Audrie sells handmade quilts and other items at extremely reasonable prices, and has quilt patterns in her shop as well.

*Amy's Creative Side--If you'd like to make a quilt, Amy has patterns for sale. Amy's also the author of Modern Basics, and her 2nd book is coming soon!

*Piece N Quilt--If you are making anything quilted for holiday gifts this year, Natalia's book Beginner's Guide to Free-Motion Quilting can help you figure out how to quilt it. This book is also great for more experienced free-motion quilters.

*Tula Pink--Tula is offering free gifts every day this week, and today she has an adorable VW Bus pillow pattern.

*Sew Inspired Pattern Shop--And finally, my quilt patterns are on sale this week. If you've been thinking about making either the Evergreen State Quilt or the Ruffle Crush quilt, now's a good time to get the pattern!
Ruffle Crush closeup 
Evergreen State quilt 
Evergreen State

My friend Candy also wrote up a gorgeous gift list over at her blog; check it out! And if anyone else would like to write up a handmade gift list, feel free to link up in the comments!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

We decided to eat out for Thanksgiving dinner this year, so I had more time to sew*.
I finished up this quilt top for the believe circle of do good stitches this morning.

It looks slightly off balance with more darks along the right side (and the middle column is almost all grays, oh well), but it is done! I have five more blocks that will be part of the back. Still not sure how I will quilt it or what color to use for the binding (I wish I had more red on hand.)

I also spent some time last week working on this mini zig quilt:
mini zig quilt in process

and here it is with the top all finished (instagram photo):
mini zig top finished 
I am almost done with the quilting on it and love how it's turned out.

We're going to have pie at some friends' house in a little while, I can't wait. I hope you all are having a wonderful Thanksgiving!

*original quote from Amylouwho


Thursday, November 08, 2012

This week's projects

I've been working on the back for the goodnight monkey quilt. Yes, I finished the top a year and a half ago. Hopefully my monkey won't decide he's too old for it by the time it is all finished!

I've also been thinking about making a bag. Like for a long time. I am in love with the quilt-as-you-go bags made by Elizabeth and Amber and others. Here is my pinterest board of bag ideas. I need a new church bag, and will probably make just a basic tote bag, a little larger than the one I'm currently using. Here's the pile of fabrics I'm thinking of using:

I'm trying to finish up a couple of things before I start this but I'm enjoying looking at the fabric for now. I kind of wish I had a couple more of those darkish (sort of ugly) yellow fabrics....

One more thing! My entry for blogger's quilt festival was nominated in the Favorite Home Machine Quilted category! I'd love it if you head over to Amy's Creative Side and vote for my supernova quilt! Voting ends tonight, just FYI. Thanks so much to those who nominated my quilt, and to Amy for hosting the festival. She puts in a ton of work on it and it is so amazing to see everyone's quilts twice a year.

Friday, November 02, 2012

October Round-up

Happy November! The last chunk of October was super busy here with a birthday girl and 3 Halloween celebrations.

I have a few things to share. I"ve been working on quilting my king size quilt:
Making a new "4" shirt for a new 4-year-old: (Also, I took extra pictures while I was making this; does anyone want a tutorial for this kind of reverse applique?)
And getting ready for Halloween. Skeleton shirt cutting templates are here.
And I made a pirate peasant top and skirt with patterns from Little Girls, Big Style. She performed a couple of dances in her costume at dance class earlier this week.
Here are all 3 kids in their costumes:
kids Halloween 2012
The hobo's sign says, "spent life savings on cardboard and marker, anything helps."

We had fun at an elementary school Halloween Bash last weekend, a church party with a carnival and trunk-or-treat on Tuesday, and regular trick-or-treating on Halloween. There is way too much candy here right now.

And finally, today I finished up my bee blocks for the Believe circle of do good stitches.
October bee block2
I made this pink one first and there are some value problems with it--some of the light pins are too close to the background fabrics so the pinwheels don't show up very well. I did a better job on the blue one.

October bee block1
If you'd like to make similar blocks, here's the tutorial: Wonky Pinwheel Block. (At the greenleaf goods blog.)

Next up: basting and quilting something quick (I hope!)

Friday, October 26, 2012

Know Thy Machine Blog Hop!

Hi everyone! I'm happy to be participating in Shruti's Know Thy Machine blog hop and sharing a bit about my sewing machine. Hopefully with all the participants (I think it's going for over a month) this blog hop will be a good resource for people shopping for sewing machines.

1. What machine(s) do you have? 
My main sewing machine is a Janome 4900 Quilter's Companion. (I also have a serger, a coverstitcher, and a small Hello Kitty Janome machine.)
sewing machine ready to quilt
This is my machine set up with the extension table, my (dull) clippers, and my $2.50 gardening/machine quilting gloves. Ready to machine quilt!

2. When and where did you buy it? What were the reasons for selecting this particular model?
I've had it for almost 3 years now; I got it in December 2009. This model wasn't my first choice; when I bought it I had decided on another Janome model and then when I went to the sewing machine store they were no longer selling that model. (Looking back now, I think it was when they were first getting ready to sell the Janome Horizon.) I went back online to do more research and decided on the 4800. Turns out that the place I bought the machine from no longer had the 4800 in stock so they sent me the 4900 instead. I bought it online from a sew/vac place that I think was in Texas. I can't remember for sure.  

3. What do you like about your machine? Have you named it? Have you made a cover for it? 
I like my sewing machine a lot. It is pretty sturdy and I haven't really had any problems with it at all. It is good at basic sewing, great at machine quilting (I just have to adjust the top tension to about 6 for the best results) and does fine with heavy duty sewing although I don't do a lot of that type of sewing these days. I have not made a cover for my machine yet. Someday I will, though.

4. Does your machine give you any problems? Could you tell us a few?
Nope, no problems really.

5. What do you sew on it mainly? Quilts, Clothes, Bags etc. How much time do you spend sewing on it? What are the features of the machine that help you improve your work? 
My sewing consists of mostly working on quilts, household items, and the occasional clothing item (or Halloween costume.) I sew probably between 5-8 hours each week, but I don't really keep track. My sewing machine came with a walking foot and a free-motion quilting foot and those are both really helpful with my quilting. Otherwise I really appreciate that it's a good reliable machine that can handle whatever I want it to do. It has a bunch of specialty stitches and I don't use those very often but I appreciate them when I need them. I also like the speed adjustment for when my kids want to have a turn sewing. I can set it so the machine doesn't go too fast and my boys feel more comfortable sewing that way. A couple other features I like a lot are the needle-down feature (although I wish I didn't have to set it every time I want to use it) and the adjustable presser foot pressure dial, which makes straight line quilting work out a lot better.

6. What advice would you give others when deciding about which machine to buy? 
Go on and check out reviews there. Most people include the price they paid for their machine so you can get a basic idea of cost, since sewing machine manufacturers don't typically include prices on their websites.

7. Will you share with us a special memory associated with your machine?
I don't really have any specific memories of this machine but I do have fond memories of sewing at the kitchen table in my old house in Kansas in the sunny (and usually warm) kitchen. I do a lot of my machine quilting at the kitchen table here, but it's not quite as sunny!

8. If you had unlimited resources in the world, which machine would you choose to buy and why?
I'm pretty happy with my sewing machine and not planning on buying a new one any time soon. If I had to decide on another domestic (table top) sewing machine I would probably get a Janome Horizon or some kind of Bernina. I have recently started thinking about getting a longarm quilting machine; that's something I feel like I need to research a lot though before I commit to actually going through with it.

Thanks for reading! You can read about more people's experiences with their sewing machines (and enter to win prizes!) on Shruti's blog, 13 Woodhouse Road.

Blogger's Quilt Festival

Amy's Creative Side

Hi everyone! Welcome to Sew Inspired. If you haven't visited before I hope you take a minute to look around, or come back later on to check out my tutorials and recent projects if you're busy looking at quilts right now.

For Blogger's Quilt Festival I decided to share my supernova quilt again. I made this quilt for my parents' 40th wedding anniversary which was this past May.

finished supernova quilt
It is one of my favorite quilts I've ever made. I love how the colors turned out, and the quilting, and the back.
supernova quilt back
(That's my dad's and mom's names.) One day I want to make another one to keep.

The quilt was made using the quiltalong information at Freshly Pieced, and my colors were originally based on her color scheme but they ended up a bit different.

If you're interested (and want to see a close-up of the quilting), you can read previous blog posts about this quilt here and here.

Quilt Stats for Blogger's Quilt Festival:
Finished quilt measures about 60" x 60" (I think! I don't have the quilt anymore.)
Pieced and quilted by me
Best category: home machine quilting, throw quilt

Thanks again for stopping by, and thanks so much to Amy for hosting the quilt festival!