241 Tote

A few months ago, my friend Kelly asked me to make her wife Aivanett something for her birthday. She wanted an accessory of some kind, and after looking at some patterns, we settled on the 241 Tote from one of my favorite designers, Anna Graham of Noodlehead. I was really excited to make it; I’d had the pattern for a few months but had been too busy to make one, so this was a perfect excuse – and this pattern did not disappoint! Here’s how my version turned out:Aqua and red and white polka dots 241 Tote by Noodlehead

Kelly picked the main fabric with the cute kitchen stuff (Mix Things Up from Robert Kaufman), and then I matched coordinating colors for the pockets. I took a chance on the red with white polka dots, as I was ordering online (from Hawthorne Threads, my very, very, very favorite online retailer), and I got really lucky that it looked great with the aqua. I had the gray (RJR Cotton Supreme in Gray Stone) in my stash already – it’s my preferred neutral, and I thought the bag needed a calmer color/pattern to balance out the two brighter fabrics. I lined the inside with some Letterpress by Michael Miller – yes, I still have this in my stash and yes, I will continue to use it on everything!

Inside of 241 Tote with letterpress by Michael Miller fabric

I opted to do just one front pocket on each side, as I didn’t want the zippers to overwhelm the pattern, and I lined each of those pockets with more polka dots:

Showing red and white polka dot fabric lining the pocket of a 241 Tote

I love those pockets – they’re just the right size for a phone or some keys, or even a small wallet, and having them on the outside saves you from having to dig around for small stuff. The only significant change I made was to extend the strap to make it crosswise rather than a shoulder strap, which I did by cutting two strap pieces rather than one; one in the gray fabric, which I then cut in half, and one in the aqua fabric. I then sewed a gray piece onto each end of the aqua and continued with the instructions as written, just with a strap twice as long.

Aqua and red and white polka dots 241 Tote by Noodlehead

The external pieces are lined with fusible fleece, which I really liked – the bag came out fairly sturdy without being too bulky, and it made the shoulder strap pretty padded and (hopefully) more comfortable.

The pattern itself is, like all of Anna’s patterns, very clear and easy to follow, and the size was great for an every day bag. Each piece fit together perfectly, which can sometimes be a problem with patterns that have a lining, and I think it would be fairly easy for a beginner to follow. It took about a day and a half altogether from start to finish, which isn’t bad in my experience. I liked it enough that I’m still planning on making one for me, but I think I might enlarge it just a little, as I’m most often carrying a project to work on and might need a little more space.

Aqua and red and white polka dots 241 Tote by Noodlehead

And now, a little shop news! If you haven’t visited in a while, I’ve got some pretty cute yarn bowls in there, along with a few other baskets:

Pink yarn bowl, rope basket

And, both the Kaleidoscope wall hanging

Kaleidescope rainbow quilted wall hanging using apple core EPP

and the Kisses wall hanging

Wall hanging quilt with lips on it, andy warhol inspired

are up for sale! There’s a bunch of other new stuff too, so head over to Etsy to check it out, and have a great Thursday!

Paddington Bear Wholecloth Quilt

A while ago I got a commission to make a simple baby quilt in gray and cream. Looking around for cute gray fabric, I stumbled across the new Paddington Bear collection from Camelot Fabrics, and it was perfect! I ended up with a soft, drapey quilt that still had an cute (but not cutesy) design:

Gray baby quilt, Paddington bear fabric with teal binding

The gray colorway is Tonal Paddingtion in Grey and I really loved working with it; the cotton is so soft, it almost feels like flannel. For the back I used Medium Dot in Cream on Cream by Riley Blake:

Riley Blake Medium dot Cream on Cream wholecloth quilt, teal binding

Paddington Quilt 8

To get accurate circles, I used my making pen (always test first!) and a compass to draw them as straight and close together as I could, then quilted those lines. I really like the little diamonds in between each circle, and by following one curved line after another (so, top half of one circle into the bottom half of the one next to it), I kept the stopping and starting to a minimum.

Tracing circles onto a wholecloth quilt

This technique worked well and I’m definitely going to use it again, although I think I’d make my circles smaller, just because I tend to like things more densely quilted. I added some teal binding (Ta Dot in Teal by Michael Miller) and once the baby was here, his initials and the date of his birth.

Folded Paddington Bear Quilt with teal binding

I usually just freehand when I do initials, but I wanted these at a specific spacing within the circle, so I used my ruler to give myself some lines while I was writing.

Close up of embroidered initials

All in all it turned into a pretty little blanket even without the piecing I usually do, and it was certainly a lot faster! I think I’m going to do a few of these when I’m having one of those “need to sew, but don’t want anything super complicated” days.

Paddington Quilt 2

No Carve Pumpkin Decorating

Once a month, a group of us get together for a crafting day. We all really look forward to a few hours of girl time, and, of course, making cool things. This month we decided to go with decorating pumpkins, for obvious reasons :P. We trekked out to a local pumpkin patch and got a nice assortment of small to medium sized ones, plus some extra goodies:

Pumpkins in the back of a car

We decided we didn’t want to mess around with carving, so we each brought stuff to decorate. There was glitter, paint, rhinestones, buttons, ribbon…all kinds of stuff! We used spray paint as a base for a few of them, which worked well as long as you weren’t messing around with them too much afterward (they spray paint didn’t adhere super well but definitely enough to work).

Spray painting a pumpkin

Destiny did an awesome drip on one of hers:

pumpkin spray painted black

She eventually added some cobwebs and hot glue/glitter spiders (this is a genius idea and I may steal it to do a tutorial one of these days!):

Spider decoration made from hot glue

Meanwhile, I started rhinestoning my littlest pumpkin, which was super time consuming, so if you decide to try this…use a really small pumpkin! I actually didn’t end up finishing it that day, so I need to do the bottom half at some point this week.

Pumpkin with rhinestones on it

Britney decided to decorate a few of hers with buttons, and I think you’ll agree that they turned out so cute:

Pumpkins with button faces

That baby pumpkin with the pacifier is the best, seriously. The rest of hers (she was making some to give to family) were also pretty adorable:

Pumpkins decorated with paint and glitter and ribbons

Like the rhinestones, the ribbon was pretty time consuming, so give plenty of time for that one too. I think it’s cute enough to be worth it, but if your time is limited, glitter is always a good option! I used painters tape to section one of mine and took the opportunity to put tons of orange glitter on it.

Pumpkins with black stripes and orange glitter

D found this bigger green pumpkin at the patch and turned it into a grinning witch with a glittery hat:

Pumpkin with a pained witch face

And for my last two, I went with glitter polka dots, bows, and flowers (affixed with a hot glue gun):

Pumpkin painted bronze with glitter polka dots and a bow

And black with pink polka dots (painted with my Martha Stewart craft paint). The dots on both of these were made with the end of one of the glue sticks that goes in a hot glue gun.

Pumpkin painted black with pink polka dots

These were really fun and easy alternative to carving (and should last longer), and they look great on our porch!

Painted and glittered pumpkins sitting on front steps

 

 

The Kisses Quilt of Doom

Up until a few months ago, I had been fairly lucky in my quilting life. Some frustrating moments, but no huge failures.

Until the Kisses Quilt of Doom.

It didn’t start out as a quilt of doom. It started out as me consuming entirely too much modern art (I spend a lot of time on google images), combined with a new challenge from the Modern Quilt Guild and Michael Miller for the new Petal Pinwheels line of fabric. I’m a big fan of both Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein and have been wanting to try a pop art inspired quilt for a while, so I decided this was my opportunity. It started out well; I came up with a plan to cut one inch circles out of the fat quarters provided, after fusing them to some Heat ‘n Bond.

Pile of fabric polka dots

I cut three lips outlines from some white fabric (again backed by Heat’n Bond) fused the little circles to those, then ironed the lips onto a larger piece of fabric. All was well, things were looking great!

Unfinished, Andy Warhol/Roy Lichtenstein quilt with lips and polka dots

And then…well, things went to hell in a handbasket pretty quickly. Turns out that all that Heat’n Bond made my fabric really, really thick, and I broke 4 needles just trying to get those things quilted. Not taking the hint, I decided to quilt diagonal lines a quarter inch apart…which halfway through I realized were bowing and turning more into half moons than straight lines.

This is where things really took a turn for the worse. I unpicked all those stitches and then, like a good quilter, marked my lines so I could sew them straight. Only, I failed to realize that I had grabbed my grease pencil meant for marking templates, and not my washable quilting pencil. So, see these nice black lines? Can you guess what didn’t happen when I washed it?

Unfinished, Andy Warhol/Roy Lichtenstein quilt with lips and polka dots

Yep. They didn’t come out. At all. I tried everything I could think of, and everything the internet suggested, but I still had a beautiful quilt with ugly grease marks on it.

I still had a week until the challenge due date, so I cried a little, then sucked it up and started over (and I got my Letterpress dress out of the dismantling process, so it wasn’t all bad). This time I just appliquéd the lips, so the only part that had Heat’n Bond was the little dots. I marked the lines again, but this time with tailor’s chalk, which I had tested on the fabric and had washed out great. Quilting went quickly and smoothly, and I was so happy to get it done with a few days to spare.

Well. I don’t know what happened between the testing and finishing the quilting, but it happened again. The blue lines of the tailor’s chalk had somehow soaked in to the fabric, and it didn’t come off all the way when I washed it. I was left with another quilt, this one with faint blue lines. At this point I was really ready to just throw in the towel, but I can be just a little stubborn sometimes, and I was determined to finish this thing, somehow. I ended up using some light blue thread and a decorative stitch, and went back over the marks, to make it look like I did it on purpose. Once I started adding the blue, it didn’t look like the wall hanging I’d been intending, and more of a cute baby quilt, so I cut it down to just two lips. Here’s how it ended up:

Andy Warhol/Roy Lichtenstein wall hanging quilt with lips and polka dots

I’m actually pretty happy with how it turned out, though I still get pretty frustrated when I look at it. I do think the blue adds an interesting texture and I still like my original idea, so I may try it again at some point (some point that is far, far in the future). I do love how cutting up the fabric made really interesting geometric patterns, and I like the bold colors.

Close up of Andy Warhol/Roy Lichtenstein quilt with lips and polka dots

I outlined the lips with an orange zig zag stitch, and the back is really cute:

Back of Andy Warhol/Roy Lichtenstein quilt with outlined lips

I might like it more than the front, although I suspect that’s more my irritation talking than anything.

Close up of back of Andy Warhol/Roy Lichtenstein quilt with orange outlined lips

So there you have it: my first total quilting failure. I didn’t win the contest, but I’m still proud of myself for finishing, and she’s heading to be shown at our guild’s exhibit at the Northwest Quilting Expo…where I hope no one will be able to tell how many mistakes are in this one!

 

Polka dots and flannel baby quilt

Today I have a quick little project that turned out great:

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The brown fabric was a heavy cotton that’s been in my stash for a while; originally it was going to be a skirt, but there wasn’t quite enough of it to go around. The flannel baby print was a remnant that I picked up on sale somewhere. I’ve been trying to evaluate my fabric stash and use up the odds and ends to make room, and I have no idea why I didn’t see that these two would be perfect together sooner.

I wanted a quick project and didn’t particularly want to hand bind (I’m hand stitching a lot of the Hexie quilt so I’m a bit on overload as far as hand sewing goes), so I just sewed the pieces together with the right sides together and quilt batting on one side, then turned it right side out through a little gap.  I topstitched with Mettler thread in a dark chocolate color, and I’m really happy with how even and straight my walking foot is getting my stitches these days.

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Here’s the part I’m really excited about, though: I’ve been practicing my free motioning (I’ve been doing a bunch of tutorials from Leah Day over at the Free Motion Quilting Project, but I haven’t been brave enough to show any yet!) and I decided to free form letters on this one. I used my darning foot to write “love” in cursive a few times, and it turned out really cute.

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It’s harder to see in this one, but this is how it looks full length.

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You can’t really see it at all on the back, but that’s okay since the writing would be backwards :P.

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I think next time I’ll do smaller writing closer together, so that it’s a little more densely quilted, but it worked out well for an experiment! If you like it, this quilt is available in my Etsy store :).

And since it’s been a while, here’s Penny the bunny hopping over to give it her sniff of approval :).

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Polka Dots and Turtles Travel Bag

A few months ago, I saw the Fall/Winter issue of Stitch Magazine, and immediately bought it to make the cover project:

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It reminded me a bit of the Weekender Bag that’s been making the blog rounds, and it just so happened that we had a plane trip coming up. I realized after I started making it that I also made a bag the last time we flew to the East Coast, and have now decided I’ll make a new one every time we fly :P. Anyway, here is my version:

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I did make a few changes (I’m sure you’re shocked). The pattern called for heavyweight interfacing, but I didn’t have any, so in my infinite bag making wisdom, I figured I’d just quilt it. Next time I’ll just follow the directions, because quilting all the pieces was a lot of work, but I really love the effect. I cut all the outside pieces first (using Michael Miller Kiss Dot), ironed some lightweight interfacing to each piece, and then quilted batting to that. I just used straight lines because it was easiest. The pockets and handles are made of Michael Miller Les Amis Turtle Parade, and I left out the piping. It didn’t seam to fit my bag, for whatever reason. The original pattern only had two pockets on each side, but on one of the sides I made it three.

For the lining, I used some teal chevron fabric that I had in my stash (I’m not sure where it came from). 

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I also added three pockets on one side of the lining and two pockets on the other; these were optional in the pattern.

 

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The thing that I’m most proud of, though, is the zipper! This was my first time putting in a zipper, and I was really nervous about it, but I think it actually went really well.

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All of the stitching came out great, and I was really thrilled with how professional the seams look.

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It was the perfect size for a carry on, even though I loaded it up for our plane trip, and it held up nicely on vacation! I will definitely make this again…although I probably won’t make so many modifications :P.

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Lamp Shade Update

First off, I apologize for the light postings lately. I started a medication recently that has me feeling under the weather, so my posts will probably be more like once a week than twice a week for a little bit while my body adjusts. Thanks for the patience!

So, onto today’s post! As you know, we moved recently, and my poor bedside lamp did not make it through all that well:

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Sad, right? I’ve been meaning to get to fixing it, but hadn’t had the time until this last weekend (hey, three months is better than my average to get to things lately :P). To start out, I took out the metal tops and bottom that keep the shade in shape, and set those aside. The torn up fabric outer layer came right off, leaving just the plastic lining.

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To replace said lining, I just used a piece of fabric that was leftover from our quilt (the polka dots, since more green would have been overwhelming).

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I cut it so that it was about a half inch wider than the plastic lining, thinking that I would hot glue it.

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And then, folks, I lost my marbles a little bit, and decided to actually sew the fabric to the liner. I know.

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The good news is that my machine (and I) survived, and it actually worked pretty well.

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Once that was done, I whip stitched the back seam to close the circle. The top ring was a little bit of a challenge, so I ended up putting in what amounted to some basting stitches to keep it in place, then hot glueing all the way around to make sure it stayed. I left the bottom ring out; it keeps it’s shape without it, and I’m planning to reuse it for a future project :P.

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It turned out really nice, and looks great on my nightstand (please ignore the masking tape; we have a weird second door in this room and it was letting in drafts, so we improvised).

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I think it also matches the quilt without overwhelming the space. Now I just have to convince my husband to let me update his lampshade…

The big one is finished!

Well, it’s taken about a year and LOTS of mistakes, but our quilt is finally finished! The front:

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It’s definitely not perfect – there are some wonky seams, a few more wrinkles than I’d like, and some serious piecing issues, but I love it, and I’m so proud of it.

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As I’ve mentioned before, I tend to jump into projects assuming I’ll learn as I go and it will all work out. This quilt was no exception and the learning curve was very steep! I cut all the pieces using cardboard templates traced from the ones in the book. If I was doing it over again, I’d take the time to use a heavier material as the template, and I’d use an exacto knife to cut it out – scissors are not the best tool for everything! I’d also use a much better rotary cutter (which I now have) to cut out the pieces of fabric so that they’d be more precise; I assumed when I started that a lot of mistakes could be worked out when piecing it together. What I learned was that accurate (and therefore pretty) piecing depends quite a bit on how accurate your cutting is.

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I’d also use a bit more seam allowance; I used the “scant 1/4 of an inch” method and I’ve since figured out that I’m just more comfortable with a little more clearance.

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I’m particularly proud of the actual quilting that I did. This is the biggest quilt I’ve made to date, and I free motion quilted the whole thing. I was so intimidated to start it that after it was all basted, the thing just sat there, mocking me. It mocked me from our old house, mocked me from the box it was moved in, and mocked me from my brand new sewing space in our new house. Finally, one Monday morning I woke up and decided it was time to get it done. I used Leah Day’s recommendation of mentally splitting the quilt into fourths, and working each quarter from the inside (middle) out. This made it much more manageable and I was able to complete all the quilting in about a week and a half (off and on, because of course I have about 10 other projects going :P).

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I finished it with hand sewing the white binding. I always try to convince myself to do it by machine because it’s so much quicker, but hand binding is just so pretty. I knew if I machine stitched it, I’d look at it and be bothered every day. So, in the spirit of doing it right the first time, I spent a couple of days with some quality needle and thimble time. I forget how much I actually enjoy finishing off a quilt that way; it’s just so peaceful and satisfying.

It looks amazing in our new room, which has tons of natural light, and with the headboard that Kyle’s grandfather made.

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Next up on the list is a bed skirt to hide our ugly box spring. I probably should have made that before I took pictures, but I was too excited!

Finished project – Yellow and Grey Baby Blanket

This one was a commission, and the request was for yellow and grey chevrons. Now, I love me some chevrons, but when I laid it out, it got a little Charlie Brown here in the sewing room – not the look I was going for. So, I modified it a bit and came up with this design:

ImageStill chevrons, just tweaked a bit. The piecing is just triangles, but I used my new Big Shot cutting machine and was much happier with my straight lines and corners.

I have a hard time working with grey; it’s not a color I choose for myself, when it comes down to it, and so I have a difficult time seeing where it works and where it doesn’t. It presented a bit of a challenge and I spent about an hour debating fabrics, but I went with my instincts and chose a dark to light color scheme. I think it provides a lot of visual interest, and is a nice foil for the cute polka dot yellow fabric. For the back I used a piece of flannel that had a smaller herringbone print on it already,  to tie it into the front:

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It’s a really sturdy but soft blend that I think will wear well. I took the opportunity to take my new walking foot guide for a spin to lay out a square pattern:

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I’m fairly happy with the results, although I think I need to upgrade my walking foot. It did the job, though, and I loved how easy the guide is to adjust. For the binding, I just used bias tape. I’m really into white binding these days; it just looks really clean and finishes the pattern off nicely.

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People seem to be digging the color combo – I’ve had several offers to take it off my hands :P. It’s all boxed up and winging it’s way to California though, to be enjoyed by a brand new baby boy :).

Finished projects – Sweetheart Pullover and Polka Dot Skirt

I don’t actually have a lot of items of clothes that I’ve made for myself; usually things I make are for sale or gifts for someone else. Occasionally though, I see an item and have to have it. Such was the case with the Sweetheart Pullover. It was in the Fall issue of Interweave Knits and I fell in love with it immediately. This is the version in the magazine (credit to Interweave):

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And this is my version:

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Side note, how green is our backyard?! Anyway. I used Cascade Baby Alpaca Chunky in Lemon Yellow on size 6 needles, and the drape is absolutely beautiful. The simple stockinette stitch really shows off the yarn, and the sweetheart cable provides such an interesting contrast.

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The neckline is a perfect shape and the edging is so pretty – basically, I loved everything about making this, and I love everything about wearing it. And now that I’ve worn it a few times, the yarn is getting this lovely halo around it. I think I might make one in a different yarn, just to see how it knits differently…but then again I might make one in the same yarn, just a different color. Either way, I will certainly be knitting it again.

The other thing I’ve made myself recently is this pink polka dot skirt:

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I just cut out two squares of fabric, sewed pocket linings to them, and then seamed them together. I was practicing smocking, so I just used elastic thread to smock the waist. It started out as a dress originally, and I can still wear it that way, but it is a smidge short. That, kids, is what happens when you don’t pre-wash…whoops. In any case, it’s perfect to wear with this sweater; pink and yellow is one of my favorite color combos. And it was a rainy day (our heat wave is officially over in Seattle), so I wore it with my favorite rain boots. I’m pretty happy with the results!