Friday, February 25, 2011

I'm learning

There is a finished quilt top hanging on my living room wall. I don't yet have the fabric to back and bind it, but in the meantime I'm trying to gain some free motion quilting skills. I have an idea of what I'd like to do with it, we'll see if I have the know-how in time.

Pictured above is my second attempt ever at free motion quilting. I covered probably a 12 X 18 inch fabric with little loops and swirls. I still don't have the even stitches thing down...or the right hand/foot speed combination to not have little loops of thread on the back. But the errors are way less evident than they were the first time. So hooray for practice! I'm thinking I need to buy a yard of muslin for this though...I felt so guilty using any of my scrap just to throw out!

I also made this iPod case this week by request of a friend. She wanted a cute little one like mine, and I thought I would use the opportunity to fix some of the design errors I had made. Turns out, my "errors" weren't as bad as I thought. This one was much harder to put together, and in the end, actually too big. I will be going back to the drawing board to try and find a happy medium between the two.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


I so wish I could show you the rest of this. I mean, I could, but I really, really want it to be a surprise. So I will wait for the big reveal, but I was too excited about it to not show you a little something.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Monday Moments

We got dumped on, again...probably got another 8 inches overnight. These pictures are from almost two years ago at Lake Michigan, but I can assure you they're prettier than what you would get if I ventured outside today.

The one good thing about the snow, if you actually happened to make it down to the lake, it would probably look nearly exactly like this. Minus the sun peeking through the clouds anyway.

You can try that if you like, but I'm going to sit inside in my pajamas and sew all day.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Work ahead

I had to buy all of this thread for my newest project (except for the red, that one has been in my stash since this quilt) and it wasn't even on sale. I told my husband there was no way that I could feasibly wait to buy it until the new sale ad came out on February 27. So obviously, I haven't done anything with it yet.

I'm close to doing something with it though, and I'll try putting a little peek of it up here, but I want to save the whole thing for a big reveal.

And if you have to ask if I'm done with the Amy Butler baskets yet, you don't know me very well. I will be getting back to them though, as I got all of the fabric to finish them in the mail last week. I have a rough estimate that I'll need 85 blocks to make that quilt bed sized, and I have 32 completed right now. It's going to be a marathon for sure.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Monday Moments: Tuesday Edition

Last year around Easter I found this little monster truck that looked like a dinosaur and bought it for Gabe. His big sister asked if it was a real one and mentioned that we should have got him Grave Digger. I had apparently bought into something I didn't know existed. The dinosaur truck, it was real, and all of the trucks on the store shelves were replicas of real trucks...pretty soon whenever we sat at the computer one kid or another was asking us to find videos of their toys on You Tube.

So, this year, when the commercials for Monster Jam started coming on TV, we decided that maybe we should let the kids see their trucks in person. They loved it! I took tons of blurry photos of trucks jumping and spinning in circles...and a few photos of Gabe, who was so overstimulated that he fell asleep at the end of the show. We've been joking ever since that maybe we need to turn the Monster Jam DVD up as loud as it goes to get him to nap.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

The day isn't over yet, so if you haven't got a card for someone Ann Wood has this one as a download on her site. Seriously easy, but looks like it took hours worth of work. I promise to fully own up to the download if my husband ooh's and aah's too much. Ha!

Even if you have got all of your cards, go download this anyway. It could easily be used for an anniversary or other occasion.

Another cool thing for today, Prudent Baby posted photos of less than 30 potholders from the 871 potholder entries they received that they said blew their minds and were absolutely gorgeous. Check out who made the list (just a hint, I'm in there) and be inspired!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Easier Hexagon Tutorial

If you're like me, you have been seeing gorgeous things made from hexagons all over blogs, Flikr and Etsy for months, but the thought of making your own hexagons...ugh!

Typical sewing with hexagons is exhausting just to explain. You cut out dozens of tiny paper hexagon pieces, you cut out dozens of tiny fabric hexagons 1/4" larger than your paper ones, you sew the fabric to the paper with basting stitches, you sew the hexagons together by hand, then you take the basting stitches out.

Why, oh why, would anyone go through all of that? I am far too busy/lazy.

So, first things first. Get yourself some of these. Reusable, heat resistant Teflon hexagons. No paper to cut out! Step one, DONE!

The instructions on these things are about useless. No pictures and pretty vague. Run a basting stitch, remove shape with tool...huh? Ignore them.

It says to cut your fabric 1/4" larger than the Teflon shape, but I have found that Teflon is slippery (who knew?) and that 1/4" is way too little room for that thing to slide around. I like 1/2". So, cut your fabric into 2 3/4" squares and it ends up just about perfect.

From there, center your hexagon on the square and I like to clip off just the tips of the corners to reduce bulk. You don't have to, and could eliminate that step too, but I do.

Now, thread your needle. You're going to want about two feet of thread on there, any more and you'll be upset with yourself for wasting it. Double your thread by bringing the needle to the middle and tying the ends in a knot.

Fold your fabric around one corner of the hexagon.

Stitch like this (there is a great illustration here) just in the corner.

Continue all the way around the shape. Basting this way means no stitches to rip out when you're done! All of your stitching remains hidden on the back of your shapes!

When you get to the end, run one last stitch back to your starting point, but before you close the stitch completely, run your needle through the center so that it forms a knot when you tighten it.

Trim your thread and you are ready to iron. Spray a little starch on your hexagons (I have tried it without the starch and they do tend to lose their shape) and press.

Now take that little straw that came with your hexagons, and insert it in the hole in the middle. Push down on it gently in the direction of one corner while pulling back on your fabric. Loosen two corners this way and the whole shape will easily pop out.

Press your shapes one more time and they're ready to sew with. Sadly, I can't help you shorten this part. You still do have to hand sew them together, but I've cut a bunch of steps out of the process...which should make it a little less daunting if you were on the fence.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Just in the nick of time, I finished my potholder for the contest over at Prudent Baby. I had about a half dozen sketches that I was hoping to make for it, but in the end the one I wanted to make most was so much more work than I imagined.

You want to see?

This is the back. The little hexagon part is a pocket to put your hand in.

Here is the front.

I always try to learn a new skill with every contest I enter. That way if I don't win, at least I have added something to my repertoire. Of course, this also means that a supposedly simple potholder making contest turns into a week long project. I had never worked with hexagons before, though it had been a goal of mine for months now. I purchased some Teflon shapes at JoAnn quite awhile ago (because if I had to cut these little bits out of paper I never would have attempted it) and finally got up the courage to try them out.

And there will be a whole post on those Teflon hexes soon.

I made quite a few mistakes, but the top-stitching I did over the hexagons really hides the errors well. I totally recommend it. I love how the reproduction fabrics and traditional shapes make this look like it almost could have been made from an old quilt. Hooray for new kitchen accessories!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Random stuff

I could show you a Monday Moments picture, but you would get the same effect staring at a white wall, or a blank sheet of paper. We got almost 16 inches of snow last week! I had my posts scheduled so that I could work on a new pattern I'm has been almost a week with all the white stuff, and it's no fun. The schools are back in session, and the roads are clear (mostly) but the snow that was on the roads had to go somewhere...and that's generally into a pile large enough to hide an SUV or two right on the edge of the road. Turning any corner is now an adventure! Is there a car coming that I can't see? Am I about to get creamed?

For right now, I'm scrambling to get an entry or two into this contest. All you have to do is make a potholder (it must be new and made for the competition) and e-mail a photo in to have a shot at one of two sewing machines! Good ones too, with all kinds of fancy features.

I finally decided what to spend my Fat Quarter Shop gift certificate on. I opted out of the layer cake. I want one so bad, but I need more fabric to finish the quilt for my bed, and that didn't leave a lot left to spend. So I threw a couple charm packs in my cart instead and am planning on coming up with something for the Moda Bakeshop monthly contest series that starts in March.

Thursday, February 3, 2011


This is a lunch bag I worked on with my step-daughter. After a couple consecutive weeks of her forgetting to bring her lunch box home with her I decided that maybe she needed more than one and asked her if she'd like to make her own.

She picked out the outside fabric, and agreed with me that the polka dot would make a good inside since it wasn't really going to be seen. I cut out the rectangles for the bag and had her sew around them. I wanted her to make the whole thing, but when I took our last paper lunch sack out of her cupboard to take some measurements, it was completely malformed. I had to square off the corners, turn it out, add the strap and do the top stitching while she was in bed, otherwise she would have had nothing to put her lunch in. Oh well, any practice is a good thing!

It turned out cute, but not how I was expecting. I should have checked out a few tutorials first, it's a little bulkier than I wanted...

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A lot less work...

Awhile ago I showed you a different giraffe made from the remnants of a patchwork bag. I got quite a few positive comments on it.

So, when I had to hit the stores shopping for fabric for yet another giraffe, this one to take to a baby shower I was invited to mere days after I finished the first, this print immediately jumped out at me. All the appeal of the other, but with far, far less effort.

I was a little nervous about the fabric I chose for the feet and horns. The blue was a perfect match, but the green is nowhere in the main print. I wasn't too sure if it would be complimentary or if it would turn out obnoxious. I've obviously decided I like it, and I hope the mommy-to-be will like it too.