Virtual Quilting Bees

June 2, 2010

I am now in 4 virtual quilting bees!  One is wrapping up in the next couple of months and I will probably not rejoin so I can spend more time on the other 3 bees and the many projects I need to get started/work on.  I also started a virtual quilting bee with my modern quilt guild. I’ve had the chance to make some fun blocks recently using some different techniques so it’s been fun working on all of them.   I still need to finish one bee’s May blocks, I am hoping to get them done today so I can get them in the mail because I am late again!  I think I will be late less when I am not in so many bees.

In April’s Block Swap bee, Paloma wanted tiny random scraps on a white background.  I added a lot of my own fabric scraps, and pieced the blocks improvisationally – one log cabin style, the other just strips.  I like the log cabin one better.

The Block Swap April Block 1

The Block Swap April Block 2

The blocks by themselves don’t really look like much, but you can see how the quilt is coming together here.

For the Bee Pieceful bee, I got to make some old fashioned quilt blocks, one is called shoofly and the other is called churn dash.  It was interesting to use these classic patterns.  I think that they could look very modern depending on the fabric choices.

Bee Pieceful April Block 1

Bee Pieceful April Block 2

For Bee Pieceful May, Andrea wanted wonky stars, which I love to do!

May Bee Pieceful Block 1

May Bee Pieceful Block 2

That’s all I’ve been working on sewing-wise lately.  Next post I will show you the blocks I have received from two of my virtual bees.  They are gorgeous.  I am lucky to be in groups with such talented and creative sewists!

The advent calendar

November 18, 2009

The finished calendar

I decided to start doing this while I was packing up my things to move, because you know the best time to start a new project using techniques you’ve never tried before is while you are preparing for a major life event.  I probably started it just to give myself a reason to not pack…I justified it by telling myself “well, you are doing something productive instead of packing so it’s OK!” I actually finished it the Sunday before I moved.

I finished this during one of the most stressful weekends of my life.  I was trying to get as much packing done as possible.  Saturday I needed a break from packing.  Foxy has been at my parents house since before Halloween to make it easier to show my apartment and get ready to move.  I decided I would go to the local city animal care and control and pet some kitties to relieve a little stress.  What ended up happening was that I brought home this sad little dog.

little pumpkin at the vet

The poor thing had kennel cough, fleas, and messed up teeth.  I don’t know what I was thinking, it was just an impulsive decision.  Immediately after taking him out of ACC, I took him to the vet.  He has all his shots now, is flea free, and got antibiotics for his cough.  I brought him home.  That night I was a mess.  I felt like I had made a horrible mistake.  My dog Foxy really does not get along with other dogs.  I just couldn’t bring him back to that horrible shelter.  I didn’t know what to do.  I had just compounded my stress level by 1000.

What I ended up doing is working with an adoption group called Alliance for Responsible Pet Ownership to try and find him a new home.  They placed an ad on for me.  I have had at least a dozen people contact me who were interested in Pumpkin, but none of them followed through.  It has been terrible.  And the worst part is, the longer he’s with me, the more I’m getting attached to him, and I don’t think I will be able to adopt him out.  I’m really conflicted and don’t know what to do.  I’ve been so stressed out for the past month – my hair is falling out.  I feel terrible and tired all the time.  I cannot wait for Thanksgiving so I can have the time to just do nothing for a few days and hopefully relax.

close up of the applique and quilting

Anyway, back to this advent calendar.  I used the tutorial that was on the Sew Mama Sew website.  I pretty much used the same fabric too, Michael Miller Funky Christmas.  I just really loved the prints in that collection.  It was the first time doing any real applique, and that was probably what took the longest and was the most challenging.  First I had to trace the numbers backwards on the double sided fusible webbing, and cut them all out.  Then I had to iron on the numbers to the fabric I was using for the numbers and cut them all out.  Then I realized that I had ironed on all the numbers that were on printed fabrics to the wrong side, so I had to redo half of them!  Once I got that all straightened out, I ironed the numbers to the background fabric and began to satin stitch around the outer edge of the numbers on the sewing machine.  It really took a long time to finish all of that.  Once I had that done, and sewed the pockets together, the rest of it came together really quickly.

I forgot to add, they are all little pockets to put treats in!

I messed up the binding though.  I was so tired on Sunday night, but I really wanted to finish.  I didn’t realize until I was sewing the binding to the back (which I do by machine) that there was batting showing in the upper left hand corner…I hadn’t sewed the binding onto the top of the quilt there, I missed the edge.  But instead of ripping the seams out and fixing it, I just sewed the binding so it covered the batting up, folded it over and finished the back.  That’s why it looks crooked there.  I just didn’t care at the time, but now it drives me crazy.  There’s a couple of crooked pockets that bother me too, but I think overall it still looks ok.

I need to dig my sewing machine out from the pile of unpacked boxes and at least put some things away so I have enough room in my “craft loft” to set it up so I can finish the blocks for the quilting bee before the end of the month.  There’s about 4 projects I wanted to make before Christmas as well.  Some will be really quick, like these bookmarks, and some not so much – I wanted to do a quilt as a gift for someone for Christmas…I hope I can get everything done in time!  I have about 6 weeks, I think if I do a little every day, I’ll be able to finish all the stuff I had planned.  Hopefully!

October Bee Pieceful Blocks

October 23, 2009

Poinsettia Block

Poinsettia Block

Morning Star Block

Morning Star Block

I mailed these out on Monday to this month’s bee, Kim.  She sent us Christmas fabric and asked for “traditional” blocks.  I looked around online and settled on these two patterns, Morning Star and Poinsettia.   I think I have finally gotten over my mental block about this virtual quilting bee – I think you are able to see the  vast improvement I’ve made over August and September’s blocks.  The seams and points all line up (almost) :).  But where they don’t it is not that obvious.  I like how I arranged the fabrics, and for the first time in this bee, I was happy to send these out.  Hopefully I will be able to keep it up.  Next month’s fabric is going to be sent soon, and she wants string piecing, something else I have not tried yet.  I want to get it done as quickly as possible, so I can send it back before I move.

I am moving!  I finally found a new apartment that has almost everything I wanted, and its only about 1/4 mile from where I am living now!  I finally got lucky, I had almost given up because I had been looking since May. It is a duplex in a neat little neighborhood called Cottage Home, and has a really cool loft area that I am going to make my sewing room.  I can’t wait to move in and get settled.  Moving Day is only a few weeks away.  I’m moving on Friday the 13th!

After next month’s quilt block, I only have one more project I need to get done before the move.  It’s the Poky Puppy quilt my mom wanted me to make for her.   I will have to post about that later.

This is a happier project than my sad Halloween block below.  I’m making my goddaughter a quilt for her first birthday, here’s a little preview of what I got started.  I actually finished up the quilt top and back last night, hopefully I will be able to take some pictures this afternoon when I get home from work.   Its a stacked coin quilt, I used 22 different fabrics for the coins…mostly pinks but there’s also some orange yellow blue and green in there.  I know that sounds insane…I was unsure of it myself at first…but once it came together I think it looks adorable.  I’ll try and post those new pictures tonight!

Not too bad, for my first attempt!

Not too bad, for my first attempt!

After looking at all the super-interesting wonky log cabin blocks people have been making for virtual quilting bees or for their own quilts, I finally decided to try my hand at it.   Although it may be surprising to people who know me, it was difficult for me to imagine working on something without clear cut instructions on how to do it.  Up until this point, I have really depending on cut and dry instructions on how to do things, even if I do end up modifying them somewhat, it is comforting to know you are doing something that has a definite end result.  But at the same time, looking at all the all the scrappy wonky log cabin blocks on Flickr, I really fell in love with them.   I like how each one is unique, and how even with the same fabrics, you can get a different result every time.  I wasn’t sure how to start, but I found a great tutorial which was a jumping off point for me.  Once I finally got over the insecurity of making something up on my own, making this block was not nearly as difficult as I initially thought.  Once again, I mad let what I think is going to be an impossible feat (see free motion quilting) keep me from trying something I really want to do!  I need to have more confidence in my abilities and take those risks, however small they may be, because in the end those things end up enriching my crafts, and make me better at them.  I used some leftover scraps from my medocino quilt, and while I don’t have enough to make more than a couple more 9.5 ” blocks like this one, I will have plenty of new scraps from the stacked coin quilt I am working on for my goddaughter’s 1st birthday!

I got netbook for my birthday! Since it is so shiny and cute, I didn’t want it to get all scratched up or damaged when I was carrying it around.  So I decided to make a padded sleeve for it for protection.  I used this super cute mushroom fabric called Tillbrook Toadstool in lime green and just a bright pink solid for the inside lining.  In between the two, I used fusible fleece as the padding, and to give it some body to stiffen it up.  I am mostly happy how it turned out, if I did it again for this netbook, I would make it about an inch shorter in height, just for a closer fit.  Width wise it is perfect.  I also would have boxed the corners to give it a little depth.  Overall, this was a pretty simple project.  I am thinking of offering these in my etsy shop as custom orders, that way I can make them to fit the customer’s specific laptop dimensions.  I feel like this is a useful thing that people would also like to have fit their personality with the fabric choices.  My etsy shop hasn’t sold anything in a while, I’m hoping this would help boost my sales.

SewingMachineMonthWThis month is sewing machine month at the sew mama sew blog, and what better way to jumpstart my return to blogging than with a meme?!

What brand and model do you have? I have a Pfaff Hobby 1132

How long have you had it? I’ve had this machine for a little over a year now, 16 months

How much does that machine cost (approximately)? around 400.00

What types of things do you sew (i.e. quilting, clothing, handbags, home dec projects, etc.)? I started out making purses and stuffed toys, as my skills improved I  began quilting, which I love.  I also like making handy things for myself, like most recently a padded laptop cover for my netbook.

How much do you sew? How much wear and tear does the machine get? I sew a lot, I usually go through phases of working daily on a project, finishing, then taking a long break, and coming back to do more projects.

Do you like/love/hate your machine? Are you ambivalent? Passionate? Does she have a name? I love my machine, its very powerful, I never have problems sewing through layers and layers of fabric.   I’m very happy with my machine, its a good all purpose sewing machine.  I don’t have name for my machine, because I think naming inanimate objects is dumb.

What features does your machine have that work well for you? My favorite feature is the automatic needle threader, so handy!

Is there anything that drives you nuts about your machine? I wish the arm was longer so it would be easier to quilt!

Do you have a great story to share about your machine (i.e., Found it under the Christmas tree? Dropped it on the kitchen floor? Sewed your fingernail to your zipper?, Got it from your Great Grandma?, etc.!)? We want to hear it! I have sewed through my index finger before, making a sock monkey!  I started sewing when I was laid off, with my mom’s old brother sewing machine.  I found that I really liked to sew and I was good at it, so I started making more and more ambitious projects like making quilted purses, and I kept breaking needles.  The machine stopped working, so I took it to get repaired, and found the timing had gotten messed up.  I got it fixed, and seriously less than a week later the same thing happened.  So instead of getting it fixed again, I just bought a new machine.

Would you recommend the machine to others? Why? Yes I would recommend because its a great all purpose sewing machine with a powerful motor to get through tough fabrics or many layers.  It has quite a few different stitches, and you can change the position the needle so it makes it easier sewing zippers or using special feet.

What factors do you think are important to consider when looking for a new machine? I think it depends on the individual sewer, everyone has different things they find important.  For me, at the time I bought my sewing machine, I wanted something reliable and powerful, with a good variety of stitches and feet.   I will say that I feel trying the machine out before you buy it is extremely important, so you get a feeling of how it works and if its going to work for you.  I bought my sewing machine at a local sewing shop, not a big box store or online, so I was able to do this.  If I am going to be spending a lot of money, I want to be sure its what I wanted!

Do you have a dream machine? Now that I do more quilting, my dream machine would be a long arm quilting machine with a frame.  I tried one out at the IQF in Chicago, and I fell in love!  Too bad they are huge and cost thousands of dollars.  A girl can dream though!

I spent this weekend doing trial and error with some baby shoes and bibs. I was trying to figure out sizes and the design of the bibs and shoes I wanted to make.  There are so many different kinds different crafters have made and shared online, I took what I liked from them and tried to do what I thought was best.

These shoes were the 3rd draft, I liked how they turned out.  I used some black polka dot fabric that I got from the sew mama sew fat quarter swap, and some non skid nubby fleece for the soles.  I was able to get 2 pairs of shoes out of one fat quarter!  It is a good project for that size fabric.

The bib was my first draft.  I think turned out adorable, but I am still wondering if it is too small.  Its hard for me to judge, because all baby stuff is tiny, and I didn’t have a baby handy to measure.  I went with some rough estimates based on other bibs that I have seen online.  It has a little pocket in the front to catch crumbs or drool or whatever. I love this sushi fabric, and I think the cute food themed fabric is perfect for bibs. I also decided I need to use a strip of velcro on the back of the bib to make it more adjustable than just using two dots of velcro and to leave the opening to turn the bib on the side, not the bottom, because it is really noticeable on the bottom of the curve.

These were my first tries, and I’m pretty happy with the results, and I definitely learned what I need to change to improve the end results.

the brick path quilt

February 20, 2009

I finally finished my brick path quilt last night.  I will have to wait until tomorrow to get some good pictures, hopefully there will be sunlight, but I was so happy to finally have it done that I did my best with my limited photography skills and got some pictures so I could post.

It was pretty straightforward to finish this, and thankfully there was no binding to do, although I had a terrible time getting those pom poms sewn into the corners.  And as you can see from my close up, one little pom pom thread still escaped.  Also, when I washed and dried the quilt after I was done, the pom poms got all linty.  I tried my best to get the lint off, but they still look a little dirty, which makes me a little sad, because I was really into those pom poms! I guess if I make another one of these quilts, I will leave them off.

Its becoming increasingly apparent that until I move into a house or bigger apartment, I’m only going to be able to make lap-sized quilts or smaller.  I dont have the room to lay out the quilt to baste!

That’s the biggest open area I have in my apartment, after I move the coffee table.  I live in a one bedroom apartment so there’s only 4 rooms, the living room being the largest.  As you can see, after laying out the batting and the backing, there’s not room for much else.  I am standing in my windowsill to take this picture. ( I have a huge windows at the far end of my apartment that fill this entire wall, with a low wide sill.) You can also tell I quilt with the tv on.  Shameful, I know!

I really like how the top turned out, even though my “random” assembly ended up having a lot of repeats in the end.  I laid it out on the couch for this picture so you could see have soft and pretty all the colors are.

Squaring up the quilt was really easy.  You can see my sewing table is really an old crate and barrel desk, I wish it was wider, but at least its long enough to get the job done.

In then end, I am happy with how it turned out, problems and all.  After washing it there was an issue with the pom poms and a seam on the edge of the quilt that I had to fix, and I also noticed that I forgot to quilt one of the rows!  After correcting all the issues, it turned out so cute.  I think its a perfect springtime quilt, and I am so over winter right now, its just the thing to perk up this grey time of year.