Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Christmas in July!

Countdown to Christmas quilt 1

I realized I'm quickly running out of days in which to title a post "Christmas in July". It's a tad wrinkly from being folded up since Christmas, but I wanted to show off my Countdown to Christmas advent quilt. I made this quilt just in time for December last year (I think I finished it on November 30th). I originally designed this quilt at work and our staff quilter, Margaret, sewed it up. It even made it into The Quilter magazine's Quilting for Christmas issue! Seeing my name listed as the designer in the magazine was super exciting.

The pattern for this quilt is available for free here. You'll notice that I didn't make the fancy border that is shown in the original quilt. I was afraid I would run out of fabric/time/knowledge/patience to get that border done, so I decided to simplify. Each "block" is a pocket to hold a special treat/gift for each day counting down to Christmas. The kids loved it this past Christmas and I hope it's a tradition we can carry on for many more years.

Countdown to Christmas quilt 2

Most of the pockets have an appliquéd number on the front, but seven of the pockets have a quilt block, all of which I paper pieced. Figuring out how to make the pockets probably would have meant a lot of trial-and-error for me, but luckily Margaret worked all that out when she made the first quilt and sent me home with a nice little sample pocket.

Here's a close-up of one of the number pockets. I fused down the numbers and then stitched around them with a simple zigzag stitch.

Countdown to Christmas no. 12

And here are a couple of my favorite quilt block pockets:

Countdown to Christmas tree block

Countdown to Christmas gift block

All of the fabrics (besides the solid white and greens) are from Kate Spain's "12 Days of Christmas" collection. I loved it as soon as I saw it because it wasn't the traditional Christmas fabric with the red, green, and gold motifs. Hopefully I love it 10 years from now too, as I hope we'll still be using it, no matter how many eye rolls I get from a then 15-year-old Aidan. He's gonna look forward to that candy cane or Hot Wheels car everyday, darn it!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Kaleidoscope Quilt... Making Progress, Sort Of

It seems like I've been cutting out the patches for this quilt for ages, but I'm finally done with the patterned fabric pieces. Now I just need to cut the solid white triangles and then I'll be ready to sew!

kaleidoscope layout

I deviated from my original layout (see here). The blocks are still on point, but I decided I want to emphasize the X's rather than the crosses with the patterned fabric. Now I have to find the time to pick up some solid white fabric. And the determination to go up to my sewing room. My sewing area is on the top floor of the house, and therefore 10-15 degrees hotter than the rest of the house. And when the AC has to chug along all day just to keep the bottom floor below 80 degrees, you can imagine how unpleasant it is upstairs! Does sewing count as exercise if I'm sweating like a pig while I'm doing it?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

My loooooong term project

I've been working on a grandmother's flower garden quilt for more than a year now. I'm piecing it all by hand and I plan to do the quilting by hand too. I'm not sure why I decided on such an ambitious project (I started so long ago!)... I guess I completed a few smaller hand sewing projects and decided it wasn't so scary after all! I also like that I can work on hand sewing projects in the living room where I can watch tv with the hubby.

hexie stack

I'd taken a long break, but now I'm back at it again. I think part of the reason I got discouraged from working on it the last time was because of all the white hexagons this design requires. Not particularly interesting to work with, and I still have a ton of them to make. Guess I shouldn't have sewn all the pretty flowers together first. :) Here's my plan for the quilt:

hexie plan

And this is how far I've gotten:

hexie in progress 1

I like that I don't feel any pressure to get this quilt done. It's nice to take my time with it and just work on it when I feel like it. I'm using fabric from Tula Pink's Nest collection. I'm excited to see how this one turns out... whether that's in a few months or another year or two.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Best Friends Forever!

I've noticed the friendship bracelets of my youth making the rounds on the interweb lately (like here), and it made me want to dig out my ol' floss box to see if I still had some of my old bracelets. Sure enough, I did!

friendship bracelet 1

I loved making these when I was a kid. I still have the DMC instruction sheets for the bracelets too. Who didn't need a macramé-ish cord to hold up their neon green paint-splattered sunglasses back then?

friendship bracelet 2

The kids were very interested in these old bracelets, and all the colorful floss, so I'll have an excuse to make some new ones (hopefully in better colors this time around!). Among my bracelet stuff I also found a bunch of old embroidery floss tassels. Because what nine-year-old girl doesn't have a use for decorative tassels?


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Grey and Yellow Geese

I took a break from cutting for my kaleidoscope quilt to sew up this little guy.

grey yellow geese 1

I love the combination of grey and yellow. And I've been wanting to make one of these flying geese in the round blocks for quite a while. The block is based off the pattern available here, but I re-drew it as a 6" finished block.

I plan to incorporate this block into a pillow. Perhaps something like this:

grey yellow geese 2

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Kaleidoscope Quilt Along

I feel like I'm starting a little late, but I'm joining in with the Kaleidoscope Quilt Along. I decided I wanted to use a Moda Sunkissed layer cake and I wanted to be able to cut 4 wedges from each fabric. After some experimenting, I found I could do this if I made a slightly smaller block- 10" finished.

kaleidoscope cutting1

I printed my templates from EQ7. I like that the templates have the blunted points which help in lining up patches (I need all the help I can get!). Although I'm ending up with tiny little fabric bits all over my sewing room, and tracking them all over the house. Oops.

kaleidoscope cutting2

I'm about halfway done cutting the patterned fabric wedges. And then I have all the solid fabric wedges and triangles to cut. It sounds daunting, but I'm thinking it will go a lot faster when I'm not working with the layer cake pieces and can start cutting strips.

Here's my tentative layout for the quilt.

kaleidoscope mockup

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Warm/Cool Quilt FINISHED!

Warm/Cool Finished!

I finished the binding on my Warm/Cool Quilt today. This was my first quilt along and I'm so glad I participated! Not only was it fun to see how everyone interpreted the quilt differently, but it keeps you motivated to finish a project. I'm thinking of joining the Kaleidoscope Quilt Along next, but I'm starting a little late in the game so I'll really have to kick my butt in gear!

Thanks to Jeni's fantastic color articles (and example photos!), I thought differently about color when working on this project. It's not as simple as calling a fabric "purple" or "yellow"- there are so many more things to consider!

Warm/Cool Finished- Quilting

I used a soft yellow thread to quilt the warm areas and turquoise for the cool areas. I like using stripes for binding and this fabric caught my eye at JoAnn's the other day and I thought it would be perfect for this quilt.

Warm/Cool Finished- Detail

I love how this little girl silhouette ended up perfectly framed in the bottom corner!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Gathered Clutch

clutch 2

This clutch has been on my crafty to-do list for a while. I found the tutorial here. I only made one tiny change, or addition really, to the tutorial by adding a little handle. I'm quite pleased with how it turned out. And I really like the fabric- so very summery! It's from Laura Gunn's Poppy line. I actually had a change of heart with the fabric part way through, so I've got another one of these clutches already halfway done.

clutch 1

Even though I've made several zippered bags/purses in the past, I'm still not quite comfortable sewing in a zipper (I do use the zipper foot for my machine). There's something that just doesn't quite click for me; I feel like it's always a struggle and things don't look quite as clean as I'd like. If anyone has any suggestions, please let me know!

I even followed the directions for adding in cardholders and a little divider in the middle. With all those layers of fabric and interfacing it made for some pretty bulky stitching towards the end. The interfacing I used might have been a little heavy for the project, but I wanted to use what I had on hand. More and more I'm trying to make due with what I have, rather than running to the craft store for every project.

clutch 3

Realistically, I don't know how often I'll get to use this clutch. For comparison, this is the bag that I usually carry:

clutch 4

Do you see the discrepancy? At least it'll look cute in my closet!