What I’ve Been Up To

I know I’ve been gone a long time, but I’m back now. After a long and unproductive winter (during which I mostly hibernated), I’ve had a somewhat creative spring and summer so far. I thought I’d share some projects that I’ve finished over the past few months.

I made a Sew Together bag for my pen pal Jennifer’s birthday. It was easier to sew than I thought it would be. It just took a long time because there were a lot of steps. The Sew-A-Long by Quilt Barn was a huge help in putting the bag together. Every step was covered and had photos.

PinkArrows_0015APinkArrows_0021AFor my husband’s nephew’s high school graduation gift, I made an arrows quilt. He was really tough picking colors for because his mom said she wasn’t sure what colors he liked but he likes to wear blue a lot and sometimes orange and gray. So I went with those three colors and hoped for the best. I decided to go with solids because I couldn’t find any “boy” prints that I thought he’d like.

For the pattern, I chose one called Flyin’ South by Canoe Ridge Creations. It’s supposed to be a mini quilt but I thought it would look nice as a twin-size quilt. After making it though, I wouldn’t make it as a full-size quilt again. It took me 59 hours to make and took forever to cut out all the pieces and sew the blocks together. I thought I’d never get it finished. I love how it turned out, though.

JordanQuilt_0002AWJordanQuilt_0001AWMy sister Grace had a baby girl last month, so I made her a Fancy Fox quilt which I’ve been wanting to make for a long time. Great excuse, huh? I love how it turned out. Grace likes blues and grays and didn’t want too much pink, so I didn’t put pink in it at all. I though it would look good with solids with all those different colors. I quilted it with a wood grain pattern. I was really nervous about it because I didn’t want to ruin the quilt, but it ended up being easier than I thought. I really like how it looks. I think it’s my favorite quilting pattern right now.

FancyFox_0004AWFancyFox_0017WA couple years ago I was obsessed with quilting with words. One project I wanted to make was a pillow that said Me + You. I just never got around to it. I finally finished it this month. I’m really happy with the way it turned out. And it seems like perfect timing because I was able to quilt it with a wood grain pattern. If I hadn’t quilted the Fancy Fox quilt with the wood grain, I probably wouldn’t ever have attempted that pattern. That pattern fits perfectly with the whole carved initials and tree theme. In the photo the two strips of gray fabric between the ME and YOU look lighter than the rest of the gray fabric but it’s all from the same bolt. Weird, huh?

Me+you_0002AWAnd finally, I finished a ripple afghan that I started in 2010. It’s kind of a funny story because I bought a bunch of skeins of yarn back in 2010 in blue, gray, green and lavender, intending to do the whole afghan in those colors. I started the first 9 rows in those colors. Then I stopped for some reason. When I found the afghan this year, I discovered that the brand of yarn and colors I bought five years ago was discontinued. I didn’t want to start over and I didn’t want to unravel all nine rows that I already crocheted. So I just left them and tried to find colors that would go with the colors that I already bought before. I found a couple of colors that were similar to the ones I already had, so that helped. I think it turned out ok and I like how the colors look together.



Happy May Giveaway

Yes, I’m still here. It’s been a long, brutal winter and spring is finally here. To celebrate I thought I’d have a giveaway. Since it’s still technically May Day, I guess you could say I’m giving away a May basket. You could use it for all sorts of things. Some ideas right off the top of my head are storing candy, spools of thread, charger cords, business cards, keys, cosmetics and small toys. You could also use it as a thread catcher by your sewing machine to catch all those loose threads you clip as you sew. You guys can probably think of a lot of other uses for it, I’m sure.

threadcatcher_0006AWThe basket is fully lined, reversible and measures 4.5W x 4D x 5H” (depending how far down you fold the top down). I’m thinking of making a pdf pattern of it to sell in my Etsy shop with two other versions (without the bias tape binding around the edge) so that you have some other variations to make and in case you don’t want the binding edge. I’ll let you know if I put the pdf in my shop.

In order to be entered to win this basket, leave a comment below telling me what your sewing projects are for this spring. Or if you’re not a sewer, tell me about any crafting projects you’re working on this spring. Sorry, but this giveaway is for U.S. residents only. I’ll leave it open until Monday, May 5. I will randomly choose a winner and contact you by e-mail. So, make sure you leave your e-mail address with your comment.

For an extra chance to win, you can do so by becoming a follower of my blog. All you have to do is click on the Follow Me button on the right side of my blog; then leave a second comment telling me you’re a follower of my blog. If you’re already a follower, just leave a comment saying you’re already a follower. Good luck!

**The giveaway is now closed. The winner is Kathy H.
Thanks to everyone who participated.**

I’m in Stitch with Style!

051213_0014WWell, actually, my embroidered fabric necklace is. Check it out, it’s on page 36! I think the magazine might be on newsstands right now. I just got my copy in the mail a couple weeks ago. I designed the necklace back in December and submitted it to them for publication. I was so excited when the editor e-mailed me back and said she wanted to publish it. The hardest thing is waiting five months for the magazine to be published because they work so far ahead.

051213_0017WEven though I was a crafts magazine editor for three years, I still get a thrill seeing my name in print. It’s exciting every single time.

051213_0015WI actually made two necklaces. The original one I submitted used some older fabrics that were discontinued, so the editor wanted me to make another one. She told me to choose any fabrics I wanted from Westminster Fabrics’ web site and had the company send them to me. That was so fun. I picked some prints from Amy Butler’s new Alchemy line. You really only need small scraps to make the necklace, so I had a bunch of fabric leftover.

051213_0005AWIt’s been a dream and goal of mine to get published in one of Stitch’s magazines, so I feel very happy about this achievement and hope to get published in one of their publications again. I just love their magazines. They always have the coolest projects that I want to make. I hope you’ll try my necklace. It’s very simple to make and doesn’t take long at all.

051213_0011AWHappy crafting!

MQG Sewing Day

sewingday_0002WOver the weekend, the Des Moines MQG had a sewing day in Ankeny. So I spent six hours sewing with sixteen or so other people. I didn’t get as much accomplished as I had hoped, but I did get a quilt basted and made progress on a zigzag quilt for my sister.

If you ever get a chance to go to a guild sewing day, I really encourage you to go. I got the chance to talk with guild members far more than I would at a guild meeting. And I was also able to walk around and see what everyone was working on. It was fun seeing all the different quilts and projects in different stages of progress. It even gave me some ideas.

sewingday_0005WJill’s cool paper pieced sewing machine

sewingday_0009WThe front and back of Eva Marie’s Heads in a Jar qullt

sewingday_0008Wsewingday_0006WMelissa’s Low Volume quilt

sewingday_0010WLeila’s Skill Builder Sampler quilt

sewingday_0012WEmily’s feathers tote bag in progress

I wish I could have spent more time sewing with my friends, but I’m grateful for the time I got to spend with them. Some lucky people got to spend the whole day there. I think that any day spent sewing is a day well spent. I love quilting. It’s such a fun hobby and quilters make the best of friends.

Baby Steps

The last couple of months I haven’t felt like doing anything but sleep and watch TV. I’ve been in hibernation mode. For me, that’s really out of character. I almost always have four or five projects going at the same time. I haven’t even been interested in sewing or quilting much lately. Have you ever felt like that?

I had 11 days off over Christmas and New Year’s Day, and I had all these big plans of finishing several quilts I had started. I only worked on one a little bit. I did watch a lot of movies and TV shows that I had recorded on our DVR and got it back up to 70%! We haven’t had that much space on our DVR in years. That was probably my biggest accomplishment during my time off. I know, pretty sad, huh?

I’m starting to wonder if I have a touch of seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Dave thinks I’m being a hypochondriac and I just need some sunlight. Maybe I need one of those SAD lights that simulate sunlight. I do think this cold, gray Iowa weather is really having a negative affect on me this winter and a trip to a sunny climate is in order. Do any of you have SAD or know someone with SAD? I think I need to find out more about it.

I’m slowly trying to get back into the swing of things now that the holidays are over. I have several quilts waiting for me, but I haven’t felt like working on them. So I finished a new name tag. I thought it was time. I was getting tired of my old name tag. I really like how my new one turned out. I do wish I had used a stabilizer on the back of it so that you can’t see the threads behind it. I’ll have to remember to do that next time.

OvalNametag1AWI hope your year is getting off to a good start.

A Handmade Christmas

I think that handmade gifts make the best gifts. They’re just so much more thoughtful and personal than store-bought gifts. I really enjoy making them and I think the recipient really enjoys receiving them more than something that’s mass-produced.

My quilting group Seams So Easy got together a couple weeks ago for our monthly group meeting and yearly Secret Santa gift exchange and we had a lot of fun seeing what each of us made for our secret partners. At the beginning of the year, we filled out preference sheets specifying our favorite colors, fabric lines, fabric designers, quilt blocks and patterns, motifs and other things we love so that our partners would be able to make something for each of us that we were sure to love.

I had drawn Tricia’s name and she mentioned she liked stars and wonky designs. So I made her a pillow cover using Oh, Fransson’s Sparkle Punch tutorial. I had been wanting to try the design for a while anyway, so I thought this was the perfect opportunity. It’s a very simple pattern and went together easily. I used Denyse Schmidt’s Flea Market Fancy for the fabrics. It’s still one of my all-time favorite fabrics. I don’t think I’ll ever tire of it.

The pillow I made for Tricia for our Secret Santa exchangeThe pillow I made for Tricia for our Secret Santa exchange

The person who had me for a partner was Lisa. She made me an awesome giant shoulder bag large enough to carry quilts. She made a similar one for herself several years ago that I’ve always admired. I’ve even commented several times that I would like to get the pattern from her so that I could make one for myself. Now I don’t have to! The great thing about this bag is that it’s large enough to transport quilts to quilt guild meetings for show and tell or lug all my quilting supplies to quilt retreats. It has a large pocket on the outside and several pockets on the inside. And the most important thing is that the shoulder straps are long enough to reach my shoulders. I absolutely hate tote bags that have short straps that I have to carry in my hands all the time.

Lisa bag2AWThe awesome bag Lisa made me

Lisa planner2AWThe matching organizer Lisa also made me

Lisa planner4AW

Lisa also made me a fabric organizer/notepad holder in the same fabrics that she used for the bag. She even added an extra personal touch by machine appliquéing my initial on the inside of the organizer. And she was so thoughtful to use one of my favorite Liberty of London Bloomsbury fabrics on the bag and the organizer. I really like her fabric selection. Thank you so much, Lisa! I love my bag and organizer.

Although I love making gifts, I just have to remember to start earlier next year. I started a table runner for my mother-in-law 10 days before Christmas and I wasn’t sure that I would finish it in time. In fact, I was just finishing it up on Christmas Eve, the same day I gave it to her. Now that’s cutting it close!

Last year I made this pillow for Darlene (my mother-in-law). This year I wanted to tackle something a little larger. She said she wasn’t interested in a quilt. I know! Crazy, right? Who turns down a free quilt? So I thought about making a table runner because we had discussed it before. But she wanted one long enough to cover the length of her kitchen table and hang down the sides a little. This one ended up being 95 inches long. This is the longest thing I’ve ever quilted. I don’t think I’ll ever make anything this long again. It was a tight fit all rolled up under the throat of my sewing machine.

BasketsTRunner07AWBasketsTRunner16AWBasketsTRunner17AWBasketsTRunner18AWI used the instructions in Gwen Marsten’s book Liberated Quiltmaking II and I was inspired by Jolene’s lovely baskets quilt. She has several other baskets quilts among her many beautiful quilts. She’s a very talented quilter and I really love her style.

After I finished this table runner and showed it to Dave, he asked me why I didn’t flip the baskets so every other one was up and and down. That way there would be no up or down when you looked at it from each side. I can’t believe I didn’t think of it myself! I have to admit, it’s a great idea. He comes up with them every once in awhile. Now every time I look at this, I’m going to think of that. Darn! Have you ever done anything like that?

I hope you enjoyed a nice Christmas with your family and loved ones. Have a Happy New Year!

Recent Projects

I thought I’d share a couple projects that I finished during the past few weeks. First up is a wrist pincushion that’s been on my to-do list for the last four years. You know what? I don’t think I know anyone else who uses a wrist pincushion. It seems like it’s something that mostly seamstresses and garment sewers use. I love mine because it’s so handy and it makes it so convenient to always have pins close at hand.

My shabby old pincushion

I’ve used the same elastic-strap wrist pincushion for the last five years that I bought at JoAnn’s, and I wish I had bought two of them because they don’t sell them anymore. I’ve already had to replace the elastic once because the original elastic wore out. Now the elastic that I replaced it with is worn out, too. I’m tired of replacing the elastic, so I finally decided to make the wrist pincushion that’s been on my list ever since I saw it on Planet June’s blog several years ago.

My spiffy new wrist pincushion!

I think it turned out pretty well, but it doesn’t look exactly like Planet June’s. Hers is more angular and the corners are pointier. I was expecting mine to turn out like that. I think mine looks like a jelly doughnut. Maybe I’ll have to make another one and see if that one looks better. I think the only thing I would do differently next time is make the strap an inch longer to allow for more overlap on the Velcro ends of the strap.

I also made a house-shape mug rug for my pen pal Monica’s birthday last month. I designed a paper-pieced roof made of triangles and added some hand stitching instead of doing any machine quilting on it. It was a fun project. I think I may make more of these and sell them in my Etsy shop or design a downloadable pattern for people to purchase.

I’m Published (Again)

I was surprised to get the new issue of Sew Fresh magazine in the mail the other day. Why, you ask? Well, I hadn’t ordered it and I didn’t do any projects for the magazine. So, imagine my surprise, when looking through the table of contents, I saw my coffee cozies that I designed for the Fall 2010 issue of Quilts and More, listed on page 86.

They recycled my old project from Quilts and More for this magazine along with some other favorites from the magazine’s editors. Someone else remade my coffee cozies in different fabrics, but they also included photos of the ones I made for the old issue. They even changed up some of the newer versions by machine appliquéing around the world “DRINK,” instead of hand stitching around it like I did before, and doing a machine blanket stitch around the coffee cups instead of a straight stitch. I thought those were some nice options and made the project slightly fresher and different than before.

My coffee cozies in Quilts and More, Fall 2010

This was a very pleasant surprise. I’m so flattered they included me in the magazine. They listed me as the designer and printed the link to my Etsy site, so it’s free publicity for me. But I don’t get paid again. (Darn!) Hopefully, more new people will discover me who didn’t know about me before. And that will bring more traffic to my Etsy site and my blog. Every little bit helps, right?

There are quite a few cute projects in Sew Fresh, so I hope you’ll go out and buy it. But if you’d like to make my coffee cozies, you can download the pattern for free. Just go to the Tutorials tab at the top of my blog and click on the link for the coffee cozies. I think they would make great stocking stuffers, teachers’ gifts or Secret Santa gifts. Enjoy!

What I’ve Been Up To

Sorry for being gone for so long. I don’t know about you, but the 100°+ temperatures we’ve had here the last few weeks haven’t put me in the mood to do anything productive lately. I was hoping to finish up a bunch of projects to enter into the Iowa State Fair, but alas, I didn’t get them done. So I only entered two pillows that I had already finished earlier. If you’re going to the fair next week, please look for them.

The two pillows I entered into the fair.

Other stuff I’m working on right now is a zigzag baby quilt for my sister Grace who is expecting a baby next week. I used this pattern by Amanda Jean and it’s wonderful. I highly recommend it. I’m in the middle of doing the quilting right now. I’ll post photos of it after I mail the quilt and my sister receives it. I want her to be the first person to see it.

I finished a tote bag made out of half-square triangles that I’ve been wanting to make for a couple of years. The pattern is from the book Friendship Triangles by Edyta Sitar. My quilting group did a half-square triangle exchange last year, so I was finally able to use some of those in this bag. I’m mostly happy with the way it turned out, but there are some things I would change if I made it again. The shoulder straps are kind of wimpy because they’re not reinforced with any interfacing. And the sides of the bag are covered with binding instead of being hidden between the bag layers. I’m actually thinking about taking apart the bag and redoing the straps and the sides because they nag at me every time I look at the bag.

I also designed a line of fabric cuffs for my Etsy shop. I haven’t had a chance to list them in my shop yet, but I’ve been selling them at Market Day. I’ll try to get them listed in the next week or two. I’m also planning on designing some fabric necklaces, but those probably won’t make an appearance until later this fall.

I hope you’re having a fun and productive summer.

Modified Pillowcase Top

Last weekend I finished my first summer top of the year. One of my New Year’s resolutions was to sew more clothes for myself, but I haven’t gotten to it until now. This top is one of those pillowcase tops that practically everyone on the Internet has raved about the past few years because of how simple it is to make. If you’re wondering about its odd name, it’s because you can actually make one by taking a pillowcase, cutting off the sewn edge and making a casing to run a strap or ribbon through to tie around your neck.

I’ve been wanting to make this type of top for a while now, but just hadn’t found the right pattern. I know it seems ridiculous to have to find a pattern to make a simple top like this, but a lot of the photos of pillowcase tops I’ve seen on Flickr and online look like baggy or shapeless potato sacks because they’re too simple and don’t have any shaping or tailoring to them. They really do look like tops made from pillowcases.

I thought I had found the perfect pillowcase top pattern by Froglegs and Ponytails, but it was still a little too shapeless for me. It’s a really great pattern and very well-written, don’t get me wrong. But the sides are pretty straight and not curved to follow the curves of your body. I purchased the pattern and was all ready to make this top, fully intending to make alterations to the pattern to fit my body. But then I found a similar top at JCPenney, in a fabric I didn’t like. It fit me pretty well and had some shaping to it. So I traced it and made a pattern from it. The sides are curved to fit my curves and I lowered the armholes a little to fit my underarm area better. I’m pleased with how it turned out, but would still prefer a little more tailoring because it still looks kind of shapeless. I want to learn how to add darts to a pattern so that I can add them to this pattern and have a better fit around the bust area the next time I make this top again.

I probably wouldn’t use the same fabric again. I used a thick, slippery synthetic for this top (polyester, I think) and so I had to use a low temperature when pressing the fabric because I didn’t want it to melt. So you can imagine how difficult it was to press every time I had to press folds or seams down. I’d really like to make one out of voile like this one by Amy. I just love working with voile. It’s so buttery soft and silky, and so easy to work with. I also like how Amy’s doesn’t have a bow. I might make my next one without a bow if I can figure out how to do that.

Are there any summer tops you’re dying to make? I’m always looking for new ideas.