Baskets!

For the last few months, I’ve been working on what I’ve been calling “Operation Organized Sewing Room”. At all the houses we’ve lived in so far, I’ve only had a corner of a room for all my crafting things, and now that I have a whole room, I’ve had a hard time trying to figure out where to put everything, with storage being an especially big issue. I like to have stuff at least partially visible, because I often don’t know what I need until I see it. It basically always looks like fabric just exploded in there, especially the scraps everywhere that I refuse to throw away. I wanted to sort them by color (I’ve found that works better for me than say, by shape), so I needed a lot of containers, and those containers had to be pretty but functional – this is going to be my studio for the foreseeable future, so I want it to look nice! I tried a few different variations on a basket, but my absolute favorite is rope bowls.

MeasuredandSlow_1

I’d seen some pictures around Pinterest and they looked fun, so I grabbed a couple of packages of clothesline and started experimenting…and now I’m hooked! If you’ve ever made coil bowls out of pottery, it’s a very similar build process; you slowly coil the rope, zigzaging with your sewing machine as you go, and then when you feel the base is big enough, you just tip the whole thing up to be parallel with your machine and keep sewing. It’s like magic! This is the shape you get with no manipulation at all, just letting the bowl shape how it wants to:

Rope Baskets 9

But you can also vary the tension of the rope as you sew to make more deliberate shapes:

MeasuredandSlow_5

Rope Baskets 3

And, to make cool patterns, you can cover the rope in scraps of fabric:

White Bowl Pink and White Basket

I finish my bowls with embroidery thread to close the ends, but lots of people just go back and forth with the thread to secure it, which looks cute too.

Rope Baskets 8

I use variegated thread on most of mine, because I really like the way it looks, but really any thread works (I’d recommend 40 weight or thicker; anything thinner than that kind of disappears into the rope). I’m having a lot of fun working out how to different shapes, adding handles, and (maybe my favorite thing), making yarn bowls!

tumblr_ntrpsi44e01t6ct2xo1_1280Basket 29

Some of these are already listed in the Etsy shop, and there will be a lot more in my future, so keep checking back for new listings. Happy Friday and have a good weekend, everyone!

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!

Sew Together Bag

It’s probably been made clear by now that I love a wide variety of crafts, which means I have a whole lot of accessories to go with them. For several years, I’d been making little kits of the things I thought I’d need for whatever hand projects I was working on (stitch markers, scissors, thimble, etc.) to throw in my bag when I was taking said project on the go. The only problem with this system is that it doesn’t leave a whole lot of room for bringing more than one work in progress, and I was constantly losing little things like my needle case when I changed out the kit. I needed a place to put all this stuff…

Pile of sewing and knitting notions

…without it getting jumbled together. Enter the absolute perfect solution: the Sew Together Bag.

Sew Together Bag made with Far Far Away Fabric (zippered bag decorated with green frogs on yellow lily pads with pink binding)

This is probably one of my favorite makes of all time, both because it’s made from some of my precious stash of Far Far Away fabric, and because it’s so freaking useful. The inside features three zippered pockets and four open ones, and the whole thing closes up with a long zipper that becomes the handles. Genius, right?

Sew Together Bag made with Far Far Away Fabric (zippered bag with pink binding and three zippered pockets)

All my stuff fits inside with room to spare, and the separate pockets means I can keep each craft separate.

Inside of Sew Together Bag with notions inside

The middle open pockets are perfect for a spool of thread and even some circular needles, and the outside open pockets fit my scissors and little measuring tape (that’s what the penguin in the earmuffs is!) just right.

Inside of Sew Together Bag with circular knitting needles and other notions

The pattern calls for interfacing on just one side (the exterior pieces), but I used it on both the exterior and linings, and I’m so happy I did, because I can put my cable needle in a pocket without worrying that it will poke through:

Pocket inside Sew Together Bag holding knitting notions

It also made it a little more stiff, which means that if I throw it into my bag or backpack, it doesn’t lose it’s shape and become a crushed mess. In hindsight, a lighter fabric was probably not the best for something that’s getting so much use, but really, who could resist these little froggies?

Close up of Sew Together Bag with green frog on yellow lily pad

The handles turned out a little lopsided (totally my fault, not blaming the pattern at all for that one!), but I don’t really mind, and I’m not sure anyone else has even noticed. I haven’t tried using it to tote around a hexie project yet, but I suspect it will be perfect for that, and I’ve already had a couple of requests to make ones with vinyl on the inside (one for makeup and one for art supplies). I highly recommend this pattern to anyone who needs to tote around smallish stuff, for any reason; it’s not a super difficult pattern, it only takes a few hours, and it’s so helpful!

Anthropologie Shirt Hack

A while ago, the Pop Tee was on sale at Anthropologie, and as I had been stalking it for quite a while, I was very excited. Unfortunately by the time I made it over to buy one, they were totally sold out. I was sad for about 5 minutes until I realized that this was an easy item to hack – all I needed was a t-shirt and some fabric. I dug out a white shirt that I wore maybe once (not a huge fan of white, I don’t know if you could tell!) and some leftover fabric with lemons all over it (much more my speed).

White t-shirt and lemon fabric

It came out like this:

DIY anthropologie knockoff shirt with lemon fabric and white t-shirt

Now, I did not use a tutorial on this one, and I should have. After the fact, I googled around and found this one from Domestic Bliss Squared that seems pretty spot on and thorough, and I wish I’d used it! I kind of just guessed on the amount of fabric I needed, and how to put in a pleat…which I then realized I put inside out. Whoops! I basically eyeballed where I wanted the fabric to start (just under the sleeves), cut the shirt along this line, and then unpicked the side seams. I put in that inside out pleat to make the fabric match the length of the back of the shirt, then just sewed it along the three sides with a zig zag stitch, and hemmed the bottom edge to match. I made a little pocket and whip stitched it into place on the front (not a functional pocket, obviously, but I’m not sure I’ve ever actually used a chest pocket, so it didn’t bother me).
DIY anthropologie pop tee with white t shirt and lemon fabric

The back creeps over into the front a bit, but overall I’m pleased with how it turned out. The only problem is that I never want to wear a sweater over it, so I haven’t worn it since summer…but it will get quite a workout when warmer weather gets here!

DIY anthropologie knockoff shirt with lemon fabric and white t-shirt

MQG Name Tag!

At our last meeting, I got my official Modern Quilt Guild membership card (yay!). I also got a scrap of logo fabric and a pin, to make my very own name tag out of. I would love to claim that this was all I was waiting for to get started on this project…but I think everyone knows me better than that by now. Our next meeting is next week, though, so I thought I should probably get cracking, and this is what I came up with:

Modern Quilt Guild name tag made with Moda Zen Chic fabric in green, black, and cream

I didn’t really have any idea what this was going to look like when I sat down to do it, and I started pulling scraps, since it’s a small project. While I was digging around in my drawers, I came across the jelly roll of Comma (by Zen Chic for Moda) that I’ve been hoarding since Christmas, waiting for the perfect project. Obviously, this was not going to take the whole jelly roll, unless I wanted a name tag that would also keep me warm, but I pulled some of my favorite colors. Rita over at Red Pepper Quilts posted a good run down of this line, and informs me that the green on cream fabric is called Swinging. The green with the commas is called, weirdly enough, Commmas, and the gray on cream is called Asteriks. I’m not sure if this line is still available, but I love the bold colors and graphics – perfect for modern quilters.

For the bottom part, I used a paper piecing pattern from a new book called Vintage Quilt Revival. This book is fantastic; every block is really pretty, and I want to make all the projects at some point. I think the sampler quilt from the front is destined to live on our guest bed someday. I used just two of the Geometric Star pattern, and printed it at 60% size so my tag wouldn’t be too big.

Modern Quilt Guild name tag made with Moda Zen Chic fabric in green, black, and cream

For the back I used a bit of navy fabric I had left over from the Hexie quilt, which I’m almost positive is from Riley Blake. The letters in my name and the randomly added purple octopus (which is there for absolutely no reason other than to make me happy) are from the book Doodle Stitching: The Motif Collection. Most of you probably already know who Aimee Ray is, but if you’ve never seen her patterns, get over to her website right away. One of the things I love about both of these books is that they came with CDs to load the patterns onto your computer, which makes it really easy to combine patterns and resize things.

Back of Modern Quilt Guild name tag, blue and white polka dot fabric with purple octopus embroidered on it

When it came to the lanyard part, I made it up as I went, mostly because I didn’t want to get up and search for a pattern. It’s made of the leftover strips of fabric, sewn into a tube, turned right side out, and seamed on both sides. I just sewed it to the back; I don’t have a ton of need for a lanyard in my daily life and it’s unlikely to leave my tag anyway, so it didn’t really need to be removable.

Modern Quilt Guild name tag made with Moda Zen Chic fabric in green, black, and cream

And for the last piece…my MQG pin!

Modern Quilt Guild name tag made with Moda Zen Chic fabric in green, black, and cream

The only downside is that now I have to wait five whole days to wear it and show off my handiwork…I may just wear it around the house in the meantime :P.

Riley Blake Challenge Quilt (“Aquatic”)

I mentioned a little while ago that I was doing another challenge with the Modern Quilt Guild, and I finally finished it with a day to spare on the deadline! The challenge was to use different Riley Blake “basic” cotton fabrics (provided by Riley Blake and distributed by the guild) to make anything you wanted, as long as it was quilted. You could add in any other Riley Blake print, or any other solid (by any company) that you wanted. This is what I came up with:

IMG_3717

I got a Quick Curve ruler for Christmas, and after procrastinating for way too long, I decided to put it to use. I sewed strips of each fabric together, then used the Quick Curve to cut the crescents. Let me just say, I love this ruler. I got it for a wedding ring pattern I’m doing (more to come on that), but it’s incredibly versatile for other patterns and I’ll definitely be experimenting with it more.

IMG_3687

IMG_3690

After each crescent was cut, I used the appliqué method from my Binary Rain Quilt to hand stitch them into a sort of trail. The background fabric is just one big piece of cotton. For the quilting, I traced the trail in lines that got progressively further apart; this was my husband’s suggestion and it turned out great. It’s very different from my usual impulse to quilt things really densely, and I think it looks like waves or ripples. 

IMG_3721

I used my new walking foot (which I finally figured out how to install correctly) to quilt the curves, and I was pleasantly surprised with how even the stitches turned out…I guess it deserves all that hype! The thread is Mettler Silk Finish, which I think may be my favorite to quilt with. It makes such smooth stitches and is really pretty all by itself. I even love how the back turned out.

IMG_3726

The binding is a dark navy satin. I’ve never bound a quilt in satin and I’m not sure how I feel about it on this particular quilt, but I think it would be nice on a baby quilt. I may change the binding at some point if it really starts to bother me, but overall I’m really happy with it. I’m calling it “Aquatic” because the trail reminds me of the path that our aquarium snail makes when he wanders around on the side of the tank, and for the ripple effect of the quilting. You can see some examples of other great things made out of these same fabrics over at the Modern Quilt Guild blog, or by searching twitter for #mqgrileyblakechallenge, and if you must have the one that I made, it’s for sale over at my Etsy shop!

IMG_3710

Fabric bins

I’ve had this tutorial from Birch Fabrics on my “to do” list for a while now, and I decided that my mother-in-law’s birthday was the perfect opportunity to try it out. Leslie is an artist, and I figured those of us who make things always need ways to store our supplies. I think they came out pretty well, although they don’t look much like the original!

IMG_3665

They’re super easy to make; you cut out two of each template in both your outside and lining fabrics (there’s also an option to make it in a continuous piece). For my outside lining I used some teal cotton broadcloth, and for the lining I used some of my precious stash of Stella Dot.

IMG_3659

In between the lining and the outside, there’s some decor weight interfacing. I’ve only ever used apparel interfacing, so I was a little skeptical about how well they would actually stand up, but I was pleasantly surprised by how sturdy they turned out. Then you just sew some seams and turn down the tops, and you’re done!

IMG_3667

They even stack well, in case you need to store them to save some space.

IMG_3663

This was a great project; I highly recommend it and will be making some more for me!

Christmas Stocking Giveaway!

Edit: The winner of the Christmas stocking has been drawn by random number generator. Lisa (lucky number 65) was the winner and has been emailed to let her know. Thank you so much to all who entered; I had a lot of fun and I think you did too, so I see another giveaway in the near future!

Good morning everyone! As a lot of you probably know, there’s a huge giveaway link party going on over at Sew Mama Sew (go check it out, there’s tons of fabulous stuff up!), and I’ve decided to participate this year! This is also my first giveaway here on the blog, so I’m really excited.

This has always been one of my favorite times of year; here in Seattle we have a holiday carousel that goes up just after Thanksgiving, and a giant tree in the middle of downtown right next to the huge Macy’s star. My family always goes down to ride the carousel and enjoy all the lights, and this year I’m having even more fun with making tons of holiday stuff. I’ve been in the Christmas craft mood in a big way lately, and one of my new favorite things to make is stockings. My husband and I need new ones, so I’ve been experimenting with styles we might like, and the experimenting is your gain, because my giveaway this cutie that I made out of Michael Miller’s line of holiday fabric:

Image

I’ve talked about Michael Miller cottons before; they’re one of my favorites to work with because they’re super soft and drape really well. Not as important with a stocking, admittedly, but it’s still nice to sew with. The outside of this one is made out of “Many Mini Gnomes” and quilted with Christmas trees.

Image

I’m practicing my free motioning skills, so the trees are slightly more impressionistic than I was going for, but the stitching came out pretty even, and for the most part you can actually tell that they’re trees, so I’m fairly happy with it!

For the inside I used “Candy Toss” in red.

Image

To hang it up, I added a red ribbon, which has been reinforced with some stitching. It turned out big enough for Santa to fill, or to just hang on the fireplace for decoration.

Image

So, would you like to have this little guy show up at your door? Just leave me a comment telling me your favorite part of the holidays (and feel free to click on the “follow” button and visit my Etsy store if you’ve liked what you’ve seen!), and I’ll pick the winner from a random number generator. The giveaway will be open until Friday, 12/13, and I’ll notify the winner no later than 12/15. I will ship internationally, so if you’re one of my overseas readers, go ahead and enter! If you are a no reply blogger, please make sure I have an email to contact you at. Good luck!

 

Paper Piecing and the Baby Jane

Basically since I started sewing, I’ve heard about the Dear Jane Quilt:

Image

As I’ve already established, I have issues with my eyes being bigger than my sewing machine, so I have decided to make my own Baby Jane (if you’re not familiar with this project, more info here). This will involve a significant amount of paper piecing (as well as hand piecing), which I have never tried before. I figured a few youtube videos and I’d have it down. Not so. It turns out that you have to be really careful about where you start with paper piecing, and the templates provided in the book are not numbered, so it can be tricky to figure out. The blocks are also smaller, about 5 inches across. Definitely not for someone with zero experience! In light of this, I’ve decided to tackle a slightly easier paper piecing project before I try my hand hand at the Baby Jane blocks.

So, I’ve been drooling over the paper piecing going on over at Wombat Quilts…Cath’s Zeppelin block just put it over the top and I had to try it! I tooled on over to 627Handworks to check out the Block Rock’n Blocks and I’m having tons of fun trying it out. I accidentally started with week two’s block (not that it really matters to anyone but me :P) and this is what I came up with:

Image

I wasn’t sure what I was doing, so I didn’t want to use fabric that I was attached to, and just pulled out scraps from my overflowing box o’ scraps. You may recognize some of the patterns from the quilt I recently finished for our bed (I really do need to come up with a name for that one). These were on top and I already know they go well together, so I went with that. I think if I was doing it over again, I might go with white in place of the teal on the outsides of the block…I think the teal is a little overwhelming with the other patterns. Other than that, I really cannot tell you how much I love this method of making blocks!

Image

One of the things I constantly struggle with is piecing – my husband tells me all the time that slightly wonky seams are part of what makes a hand made quilt unique, but it continues to bother me when things don’t quite meet up. Paper piecing, if you’re careful, essentially eliminates that problem. It’s sort of magic – you just put some fabric down, sew across some lines, iron, and then rip the paper off the back when you’re done. I will say that the ironing part does get a bit tedious, but it’s an absolutely necessary step and it makes things look so crisp and clean. Plus, it only took a couple of hours to make the above block, so I could probably get two or three done in a day if I was feeling really ambitious.

I started on the second block (which is really the first pattern in the series) this morning, and decided to stick to only two colors this time:

Image

If I was going to do it again (and I probably will), I’d use three or four colors instead of just two…part of what I’m having fun with is trying to picture how the colors will go together when it’s all finished, and they’re not quite perfect yet. I think I’m doing pretty well for my first time out though!

The big one is finished!

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

ImageThe back (a repurposed old sheet!):

Image

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.

Image

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.

Image

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.

Image

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).

Image

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.

Image

Image

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!