Saturday, August 4, 2018

Still a Busy Summer

I really have been sewing since my last post, but not as much. We have had two weeks of guests here and that means the sewing room is now the guest room. An airport run will happen this afternoon and then more guests this coming week, so I have moved my sewing machine out to the dining room and have been able to do a little sewing.

First, I was able to finish all the overnight duffel bags for the kids. This was the free pattern that had a few issues.
 All different colors so the kids can have their favorites and can easily tell them apart.

 And Trouble the cat was very interested and she fits!
I think these will be great for the kids. I can't wait until they see them.
And I finally finished this. This is the Kingfisher Quilt Along quilt that I did for June and July with Rachel at Stitched In Color and Jodi at Tales of Cloth. I almost left off the red triangles. Many people did, but I am so happy I pushed through on those. I love the way they make the quilt look. They are the same fabric as the small red border.

These are the first 29 blocks in the 100 Days 100 Blocks 2018 on Instagram. Some I love, some I'm just meh about. I don't dislike any of them, so that's good. I am working on arrangements so when the time comes I can sew them all together.

So I have been busy, I just haven't been here much. I hope your summer is going great. I will talk to you again soon, I hope.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Busy As A Bee

It's hot. And no A/C, just fans. But most days I still feel compelled to sew for at least some of the day. I have many projects in the works.

 First up is the #100days100blocks2018 challenge on Instagram. I bought the book the year it came out but I never could make myself dive into it. This challenge, and several successful sew alongs behind me, spurred me on. I find that I am enjoying it and to make it doable for myself, each group of 10 blocks has a specific color theme. This makes choosing fabrics less overwhelming.
This is one of the block diagrams to show how to assemble. None of the blocks are difficult, but at least one has 30 pieces and these blocks finish at 6 1/2 inches, so, small pieces.
And an upside is that I am using some of my stash for this. Look at the year on this piece. I have used some in various projects over the years. Man...and I don't think it is the oldest piece I have either.

At a request from my oldest, the children need an overnight bag. So I found this free pattern and I have to say I do like it. The comments on the site are not very kind for the most part. It is not the best written pattern I have ever used, but it is 5 years old and I like to think the designer has improved her skills. If you are an accomplished sewist, you can do this. It requires a bit more thought than just following the directions.
This one was the first I made, for my daughter to test the bag out. I have made a few adjustments to the sewing of the pattern that I will use for the others. Bottom line, it is a nice duffel bag. I chose to add batting to the sides and bottom instead of just an iron on interfacing. The interior of the bag is the fabric with the months on it, so I chose to put the month of her birthday on the outside as well.
These are the end pieces for the bags for the three children. Instead of doing the cording along the top of the pockets, I chose to fold a bit down and stitch it into place. I did the cording on my daughter's and while it is a nice touch, I think it's not necessary here.
 The next project I have, waiting in the wings (ha!) is this Firefly quilt. I don't usually fall for these, but for some reason this one really spoke to me. I didn't want to join the sew along, but they offered just the pattern, so I bought that. I have never made a totally solids quilt, so another first for me.
And here is the fabric, just waiting patiently to be pressed and cut for this little lovely. It's been nice to have a bunch of different things to work on this summer.

I still have 3 triangles to applique on my Kingfisher quilt and then it is done and ready for quilting. And I am still sewing hexies for a future project that I haven't fully thought out yet. I just enjoy having hand work to do,
I hope you are staying cool. Talk to you soon.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Is There Such a Thing as Too Much Stash???

I have been working on a project for the last couple of weeks. It is the 100 Blocks 100 Days challenge using Tula Pink's City Sample book. It is being held on Instgram if you want to check it out. I have decided to use only my stash for this challenge and so far, so good. But, it has led to a lot of thinking while I am pulling fabrics and scraps from my stash and pressing them to be able to cut them.
Do you do that too? Let your mind wander while you cut and sew? I do much of my best thinking and soul searching at my machine or at my ironing board. Anyway, back to my question about too much stash.
 When I first started making quilts, around 1990, I would figure out a quilt to make, try to figure out how much fabric I needed and buy just that. I over estimated sometimes, and my stash was started, because I save everything. I kept all my scraps,no matter the size, in an old chest of drawers that traveled with me from house to house, state to state while my children were growing up.  They were all thrown in ther, jumbled together.
 Once we settled in North Carolina, I became more serious about quilting. I still mostly shopped for fabrics for specific projects, but for the first time, I lived near a local quilt shop. The proprietor would hold an anniversary sale every year, 35% off all cuts of 1/2 yard or more. That was when I really began buying fabrics I really liked just because. The second or third year of this sale, I remember a woman came into the shop while I was waiting to get my fabric cut, and left her credit card with the instructions that she wanted a half yard cut of ever single solid that was in the shop at that time. I was stunned! Do people do that?
I attended that anniversary sale every year for about 20 years, until sadly, the proprietor retired and closed the shop. But, beginning in 2010, I found the on line quilting community and I began to buy fabrics on line, that my LQS didn't have in stock, because, hey, there isn't room to stock everything, right? This was when quilting blogs were really ramping up in popularity and there were so many of them. They showed new lines and it really drew me in.
 There were tons of new designers, the colors were brighter, the Modern Quilting movement was really taking off. This spoke to me...loudly! I bought more fabrics without a plan, feeling a compelling need to build my stash.
 I would take breaks from buying, but inevitably a line would come out that I couldn't resist. I cleaned my sewing room. I reorganized my stash...multiple times. I seldom got rid of much. I couldn't bear to part with it.
 But then we move across the country and I purged, big time. I got rid of a big box of fabrics that I just new I would never use. Some just weren't my style any longer. I got rid of books and tons of other sewing things too, and tried to keep only what I really loved. It is still a lot of fabric.
 One of the things that working on this block challenge has done, is showed me bits and pieces of fabrics that have been around for years. Really. Ten years and sometimes longer. I thought I had gotten rid of most of those. I was happy to see some of them, and I was able to look at them and figure out a way to use them, when I hadn't been able to before, and that feels great to me. I put together combos that I might not have in the past. My style and tastes are still changing. This surprised me.
The other thing I noticed, and that was what led me to this post, is that some of my older fabrics have been folded in my stash for so long, that despite not being in direct sunlight, have faded along the fold lines. This too surprised me. I wondered how people who have much larger stashes than mine deal with this type of thing. Do they even know it is occurring? We tend to use our fabrics as decor in our sewing rooms, maybe this isn't a good idea.

I have learned from this experience that I truly do have more than enough fabric to last me for quite some time. I know I cannot live forever. But will I quit buying fabrics? Probably not. But I would like to continue with projects I can sew from my stash. It would be sad if all that pretty fabric went to waste.
If you feel compelled, comment here and let me know how you feel about your stash and how you take care of it. Is it big enough? Are you still adding to it? How do you try to use from it? And do you have any great stash busting quilt patterns that you have made and loved? I would love to know.
Talk to you soon.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Pushing Myself, Creatively Speaking

How do you push yourself to continue being creative? I love sewing, it's a really big part of who I am. But sometimes I feel like I am just churning things out and not being terribly creative. Or it begins to feel same ol' same ol' to me. So I started thinking about this yesterday. And in the last year or so, there are a couple of things I started doing to keep things fresh and new for myself.

Now, I have never been a big joiner when it comes to quilting. No quilt guilds, and only a few classes back in the early days. I love working on projects, but I hate packing everything up to go work on projects. I am a bit of a solitary maker. And then I love to show it off when it's done. I stayed away from many techniques that seemed too hard. And then I realized that that is what was holding me back and making me stale. I had to get over it and do something.

One of the first things I did was to make this set of tiny blocks to work on my precision piecing. These all finished at 2 inches square. I found that while they weren't tooeasy, they weren't too hard. Slow it down and do it right.

The next thing I did was to take the Penny Sampler quilt class on line from Rachel. I love her classes for their content, but I was also able to work on this at a pace that worked for me. The other thing about it was that there were some techniques in this class that I needed to learn and master. Like paper piecing. I came away knowing how to paper piece. It's still not my favorite technique, but when it's called for, I can do it. Also, this was a 12 month class. I have NEVER taken that long and slow to make a quilt and I found I really liked that slower pace, with time for other projects as well.

The next thing I did was to make this quilt for my niece. I used only fabric from my stash, except the background fabric. I have never done that, and only blues, which is also the first time I have made a quilt using only two colors. It wasn't that it was hard, just different and helped me to stretch myself a bit creatively.

I am currently working on an English paper piecing and applique piece, also hosted by Rachel of Stitched in Color and Jodi at Tales of Cloth. I never had any interest in EPP when it was all the rage a few years back, but now I cannot seem to get enough of the slow hand stitched pace of the hexies.
And now I have joined in on the 100 blocks in 100 days 2018 on Instagram. I bought the book for inspiration, the year it came out and then it sat on the shelf. This 100 day project is really pushing me creatively. I am doing every 10 blocks in one color, like a rainbow of sorts. I added pink, teal, dark pink and split the violet into red violet and blue violet to have enough for ten sets. It is all coming from my stash and scraps and choosing the colors is tough, but oh, so satisfying. I do a happy dance for each one I pull.

So that's what I am doing to keep moving forward as a sewist, quilter and maker. Tell me, what to you do to keep it fresh for yourself?
Talk to you soon.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Weekend = End of Week

Made it to the end of the week and I did make forward progress on some things. I love it when I can see the progress at the end of the week. Weekends I usually only do some hand work in between all the chores and errands.
 Remember these balls of fabric "yarn" from the other day? Well I have to say that those crocheted up pretty fast. Even I was surprised how fast.
And they made this cute little semi-oval rug for my honey to land his feet on in the mornings. It will really matter next winter.
I hand stitched the binding on this little sweetie one afternoon. I didn't get a picture after the clips were off, but trust me, it's cute and is hanging up already.
 Then I whipped up this little set for Miss N. Thimbleanna had a cute dress on her blog for FinallyAGirl and when I saw the pigs I squealed and rushed to get some. Anna has an Etsy shop and sells this sweet piggie fabric. I had the perfect pink buttons too.
 And of course it needed shorts to go with the top. I only bought a yard of the pig fabric, so I looked through my stash and found the perfect pink, just by chance. I appliqued the little pig on the back of the waistband on the outside to show where the back is, and I love how cute it looks.
So here is the whole outfit. The top is the Geranium Dress from Made By Rae. The pattern offers a shorter look for a cut top. I cannot wait to see this on her. Going to try and mail it out this next week.
Have a great weekend. Talk to you soon.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

So Many Irons in the Fire

Do you limit the number of projects you have going at any one time? Or do you let yourself go and flutter from project to project as the spirit moves you? I like to flutter. Sometimes I feel like hand work, sometimes I feel like machine work. For me it keeps it interesting to have many projects to choose from. Usually when I complete several and am down to one, I start adding more into the mix again. Here's some of what I have going on right now:
 These are my balls of cloth "yarn" to crochet into a small oval rug. I made one for my side of the bed in reds and pinks and now I am going to make one for my hubby for his side of the bed. They are quick and easy and a great way to use up string scraps. Amanda Jean at Crazy Mom Quilts has the tutorial for how to crochet or knit these up.
 I just finished another mini quilt using a pack of mini charms and all I have to do is stitch down the binding. This little sweetie is 12" x 14".
 On the larger project size, there is my Kingfisher Stitch Along quilt made with lots of EPP hexies and appliqued onto diamonds. I still have to make My three borders, one of which includes some EPP triangles, which I am almost half way through making.
And because I love a challenge, and I have had this book for a few years now, I am joining in the 100 Blocks, 100 Days 2018 challenge. I have a plan and I hope to keep up and put this beautiful book to good use.

I also have some fabric that is destined to become clothes for Miss N. I haven't started on that yet. Soon. Have a lovely week. Talk to you soon.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

New Makes

I do sometimes make other stuff, besides quilts. I like to share them too. I have now made enough different kinds of bags and pouches that I feel like I have the basics down. That said, I decided when I needed a specific bag for a specific use, I decided to make it up on my own, using the knowledge I gained from using patterns others had written. I noticed a big improvement from the last time I tried this.
And this bag was the result of all that. I knew how to make the base of the bag, and quilt it. I knew how to make the lining and insert it. I knew that I had to attach the handles before adding the lining and sewing the two sides together. I struggled a little with putting the flap on, but only because of the bulk of the whole thing. That is the one thing that keeps me from making too many bags. The bulk is so hard to sew. But I am very pleased with how this one turned out.
In an effort to tame all my 1" strings finally, I made the balls of cloth "yarn" and crocheted this little baby. It's a little misshapen. I was going for oval, but still I love it. I got the directions at Crazy Mom Quilts. Amanda Jean knits and crochets these great rag rugs. I have done two previous rugs, which are holding up quite well. Those were rectangles. This was my first attempt at an oval. I just needed a small one on my side of the bed. I started with red, then low volume, mostly white and cream, then all the pink I had. I have decided I like separating the colors like that, instead of doing a mish mash of colors. Blues and greys and black and white will be my next one for my husband's side of the bed. That should use up almost all my strips! Yay!
The last thing I am working on is the Kingfisher Stitch Along quilt. I have the hexie flowers done and they are appliqued onto the diamonds. The next step will be to attach the rows to one another and then the borders. I have gone quite quickly so far, but the process will be slowing down now. I am letting the quilt talk to me about what it needs for border fabric.

One of the borders has EPP triangles on it. I still need to make those, but until the border is figured out, I don't know what fabric or fabrics to use for them. As I said, I am letting the quilt lead me at this point. This has been a very enjoyable process so far, since I never thought I would ever want to learn EPP.
Talk to you soon.