Thursday, September 30, 2010

Wrapping Up Week 5 (and NaSewMo!)

I have been terribly busy this last week! I went to a few faires and the beach, and spent time with my family. I really did believe that I wouldn't get a single thing sewn this week. I just couldn't fail this close to the end! So I managed to whip together a crayon/pad book for my upcoming flight next week.
I really super messed up the seam on the bottom. I mean YIKES. But by the time I'd realized it I'd already closed my seam and had top-stitched like almost all the way around. I wish I'd bothered to put some fuse in this project. I *thought* I didn't need it, but I did. Live and learn. really, this project was a disaster from the moment I started it. My head just wasn't in the right place to be sewing. I stitched my pocket for the note pad completely closed TWICE, and made a dozen other silly errors.

I did make the notebook to fit this project (I used some thin cardboard for a backer from a movie-theater sized box of m&ms). I used staples because I'm not brave enough to try to sew through cardboard and 30 sheets of paper yet. Besides, it's just a little something to distract Dulcie. I had wanted to make a full quiet book for her, but maybe next time. Oh! I also managed to make the binding for my Lawn Chair quilt! Yay for me :D
I'm glad to have it done, but this has made me seriously reconsider how I feel about jelly rolls. They aren't that precise. I've found through this project that I am more consistent when I cut my strips than the dies are, LOL! More than half of my jelly roll had 'v'd strips, which is really disappointing when you consider the cost of JR is anywhere from 40 to 20 dollars depending on the age (and desirability) of the range. For a while, I was switching from charm packs and layer cakes to jelly rolls because a lot of the patterns I like are made with strips. If I can do a better job cutting than Moda's stamps can, I might as well just buy a bunch of quarter yard cuts and do it myself. Sure I might not have the pattern diversity, but at least I'll have some consistency and precision.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Wrapping Up Week 4 - NSM

I don't know how I managed it, but I squeezed in one last project for the week! I know I've mentioned it before, but I'm going out of town for a spell. I usually take my Nintendo DSLite to entertain me and the girl when we fly (the Lite is backwards compatible to GBA games and movies). I thought this time it would be nice to have a little pouch for it. Again, I started with some fabrics I've been longing to use. In this case, Sandi Henderson's Farmer's Market and a little bit of Kona cotton in Olive.
I wasn't sure how I wanted to use the fabric (body, lining, and flap arrangement), and I know this is a pretty safe assortment, so it was kind of hard to go terribly wrong in that department. I decided to wing it on the design and ended up with this:
I have some wobbly seams in this piece, too. And OMGosh, I totally sewed the cartridge pocket on *slightly* crooked. The last seam (the body-to-lining joining one) had to be sewn by hand because the case was too small for my machine. I accidentally made my allowance too large (and had a wild stitch or two) so it turned out shorter than I had originally planned. The fit is also quite snug. It's satisfactory (and attractive) enough for my use, but if I ever wanted to write all the steps down; I'd make it a little larger. Not much, maybe a half inch. I didn't make a space for the charge cable because I pack that in my luggage, and the DS comes with me on the airplane. I just really wanted something that would keep my games and player all together instead of rolling around in the bottom of my baby bag (like it usually does).

My guy came in while I was making it. Bless him, he asked me if I was depressed because I was sewing so much. As he put it, I was making a bag for this and a pouch for that, and that surely, my soul must be hurting to do *that* much sewing. I had to laugh and let him know I was actually quite happy. How can I not be happy--it's National Sewing Month! But I didn't tell him that last part. Or that I'm using it (now) as therapy to stay on my Fabric Fast (which he hasn't realized I'm on yet. I can't believe he hasn't noticed the lack of packages in the mail!). I'm fine with him thinking I'm just feeling particularly crafty lately ;D

Friday, September 24, 2010

Nearing the End [Week 4] - NSM

I've been on a fabric fast/diet since September 11th (ending the last week of October). I can't believe it has been almost 2 weeks since I've bought fabric. My favorite past time was searching the internet until this point for some of my more elusive ISOs or great sales. In order to keep myself on track, I've stayed away from the computer and spent more time creating (and spending time with my family--oh yeah, them ;D).

My newest addition to my NaSewMo project is my tea/coffee wallet. After I learned the basic principles behind wallet construction, it was easy. And I managed to stay true to my desire to make only functional items. When I had my daughter, I switch to decaf because I was nursing. I still only drink decaf. Most people I find, only have decaf in their homes if they A) drink it (naturally) or B) entertain frequently. So I end up having herbal tea when I'd like coffee instead (like after dinner). Now I'll have one cup of coffee (sure it's instant) on hand! And some tea, too, in case my host isn't a tea drinker--or I don't like the kind they have (like Earl Grey).
I lost about 1/8th"all around, and have a wabbly bottom seam, but otherwise it turned out great! the tea bags have room to either stand up or lie down. I prefer them lying down because it's snugger (more snug?). The finished size is ~4.25 inches tall x ~7 inches wide (open) or ~3.5 inches wide (closed).

When I was making the wallet, I couldn't decide on my fabrics. I went through several before I settled on these. After I started cutting it, I decided I HATED it. I thought for sure that this was a prototype and not my *real* coffee/tea wallet. That was until I finished and turned it right side out. Then I could appreciate it as a single piece and not as it's various elements (the dot fabric is also the exterior fabric). I really do like it. It's already at home in my purse next to my new wallet :)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Week 4 [con] - NSM

I could have easily sat on the laurels from finishing my tissue pack cover, but that's just not my style (at least this week ;D). It seemed an awful shame that I have so many yards of delicious fabric that I never get to see since it's in storage containers under my bed. I decided to do something about that! So last night I pulled some fabrics--some Sandi Henderson (Meadowsweet & Farmer's Market), Michael Miller, and Kona cotton. Oh, yeah, and some Tula Pink ladybugs.
I decided I wanted a new wallet, something small for my upcoming trip to Alabama. With that in mind, I sorted through various tutorials, but eventually settled on this one from Lola Nova, the Summer Wallet. I made a few changes to suit my own tastes (and the size of fabric I had available).
All-in-all, this was an easy to put together project. I made it this morning while my daughter watched Handy Manny and Jungle Junction. This project also reminded me that my weakness when it comes to construction is 'attention to detail'. I change measurements and elements mid-way through and forget to go back and make the REST of the project match. I'm sure I'm not the only one with that flaw. I need to make a big sign (or maybe a sampler ;D) to hang by the sewing machine to remind me, lol. Maybe that will even be my New Year's resolution!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Week 4 - NSM

After I finished making the Lawn Chair quilt top, I was mildly surprised at the amount of scraps it produced. Some sections were large, and worthy of being saved--in fact most were.
I wanted to find a project to utilize the above pictured. I think I will eventually make a postage stamp quilt (or something similar). A few pieces, however, were destined this morning to become a tissue package cover. You know, those purse-sized ones? I thought it would be cute to look a little patchwork-ish, and I was totally right, lol ;D
I took 3 of my larger scraps (they measured close to 6.5 inch square, but had selvage on one edge or had uneven length edges with selvage) and orientated them so that the Bella snow strips were on the top and bottom. I trimmed a half inch from the top and bottom to make the snow-colored sections equal in length and so that the finished size would be 5.5 inches. I then cut the width to be 3.5 inches wide, discarding the selvage edge. I selected two rectangles for the top, and folded the fabric under a little less than half the width (x2) and over lapped the folded edge a little (so that it became the same width as the remaining rectangle) and pinned together. I then put the right side of the remaining rectangle and the pinned top together and sewed together--voila! Easy and fast. I totally luff it.

Wrapping Up Week 3 - NSM

I think when a person blogs they need to have a sense-of-humor about themselves--like when I say I have a fabric addiction, and my next post includes a fabric shopping list. Things like that make me laugh at myself. Anyway, my MIL took my girl yesterday to see her Grand-Aunt and Uncle, so I had a few hours to myself. It's amazing what one can accomplish when that person has uninterrupted time! Like finish a NaSewMo project!
I gave her the 'map' when she came home, and she loved it. We spent the rest of the evening identifying everything on the map (she especially likes HR's mermaid and unicorn, but that was only to be expected! A close third are the butterflies).

Saturday, September 18, 2010


I haven't finished my week 3 project yet. I need to hand sew a few elements, and that has held me back. We had guests all day yesterday. By the time I had the opportunity to sew, I was plum tuckered out and went to sleep. I haven't started my binding yet, either, but I know that's because I don't have my backing fabric yet--so no pressing interest in completing it. In effort to control my wild fabric frenzy, I've tried to narrow my next month's shopping list to needs with only a few wants. I'm putting my foot down (so to speak). If it's not somewhere on this list, I am not buying it in October (yes, have to be firm with myself!)

  • Swell: assorted prints
  • Hushabye: lime owls
  • Hello Betty: backing fabric (3 yards)
  • Whimsy: assorted prints, maybe a charm pack (I really do love this range)
  • Pop Garden: assorted prints
  • Meadowsweet 1&2: assorted prints
  • Nest: branches in assorted colors
  • Sweet: Jelly Roll

I can't believe September is nearly over. Time has truly flown for me. Wednesday my nephew has surgery and his throat. I hope everything goes well. He's only 5 and so it might be more traumatic for him. I know I'll be on pins until he's home and in recovery.

I decided to revisit another neglected hobby--stitchery/needlework. I embroider my quilt tags, but that's the most I've done with this medium in AGES. My swap partner sent me a book that completely rekindled my interest. I think I'll try my hand at it again and see how it goes.

Friday, September 17, 2010


I am in need of some craft self-discovery. I am drawn to many crafts, and have worked with my hands for years. I am forever trying to find the craft that really makes my heart sing. The one my creativity can pour through like a lightning rod, and become grounded in reality and not just the amoebic make believe in my mind. I can feel it right at the surface, and it's really fighting for realization. I just got kind of distracted and wandered down a path of entropy in which I became obsessed with OOP fabrics. I mean, really, I would never cut into some of these. They are swapping investments, and that's no real way to pursue a creative outlet. The money I spent on acquiring these antiquities could have been invested in fabric I would feel confident using (and not be eaten alive by guilt doing so).

Is quilting my *thing*? I've wanted to do it for nearly 10 years before I made my first block. I never had opportunity (or the resources) until now. I've only made 4 quilts in the year and 4 months I've been sewing on my borrowed machine--does that a quilter make? I see some of my peers who are churning out projects like they are possessed by rabid muses.

Heck, it took almost this whole year for me to not balk at fabric that cost 10 dollars a yard. The very first time I went fabric shopping with my Mother and she gave me cart blanche, I bought THREE fat quarters at 1.85 each and I thought that was an ungodly amount at the time (and I passed on so many things that I would give my front teeth for now). I would only shop online at shops that sold .25 or less cuts. I still have the bare essentials in the way of notions because the cost of some of these things boggle my mind.

So, is quilting really my thing?

I don't know.

But I know that I have an addiction to fabric. One that may need a serious intervention.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Week 3 - NSM

NaSewMo continues and so do I :D My newest project was inspired by my darling daughter. The last few days she has asked me to draw her several maps. She loves Dora the Explorer and runs around with the map singing the map song. Yesterday, I thought it would be nice to give her something more durable than a sheet of printer paper, and decided to sew her a map. At first, I was going to make it a treasure map, but I wanted it to be more flexible. It's just a generic not-at-all-to-scale 'world' or region map. I made a good bit of progress yesterday.
I started with two fat quarters (one for the background and the other for the backing). They are each in fabric styles that I don't really like any more (civil war, I believe), and I sincerely doubted I'd ever find a way to use them. And then I raided my scrap bag. After I started pinning on elements, I decided it should be a map of a magical place. You know, a world of wonder and majesty? So I added one of Heather Ross's Mermaids (I guess the fresh water variety since it's a river ;D). But then the flower field looked awful lonely this morning, and unicorn moved in from Far Far Away.

I decided against using any batting only because I didn't want the finished product to be too bulky. In the end, I want this to be able to fold easily in half and roll-up (going to add a tie ribbon) for easy portability.

I can tell she likes it already because she keeps coming to to the table and showing me the butterflies (like I don't know they're there. So cute!). I can't wait to see her play with it! Hopefully, it will be done before the weekend...which would give me time to work on my quilt binding.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Wrapping Up Week 2 - NSM

I really didn't think I'd manage to complete a project this week, especially with the time I devoted to my Lawn Chair quilt top. To make matters worse (well not worse, just lazier, I guess.) my binding didn't get finished either. But, I was determined. Mostly, leading up to today, I couldn't think of a small project for something I needed. You know, something not frivolous? I would think of something, and almost immediately cross it off the list once I challenged myself to find a purpose for the item. I just couldn't let it end that way! No, there had to be something--and there was!

I have a ton of loose needles. They are pinned here and there on folded bits of scrap fabric. I don't have a pin cushion (been meaning to make one), and I had been fancying a needle book. I did a little search this evening, and found a darling one called The Little Letter Needle Book that I found on the blog, Em ay kay ee {make}. OMG so undeniably cute AND practical. Not to mention incredibly easy and quick, too. Just the kind of project I needed since I was down to the wire.

Now that I had a pattern, I had to wrestle with the next most difficult task--deciding on fabric. After a few false starts, I ended up with some West Hill designed by Heather Ross and some white yardage (either muslin or kona cotton. I can't tell. I want to say Kona.) For my contrasting color I selected medium pink thread and felt (English Rose from National Nonwoven).
Admittedly, it is not my neatest work. I had the rest of my wisdom teeth pulled today. Pain killers + Sewing= Interesting experience. Regardless of those little handmade quirks, I am completely in love with this needle book. I'm glad I made it, and I can see making one for a swap partner in the future :D

Friday, September 10, 2010

Double Yay

I finished my quilt top this morning (photo in my Flickr), and I started my binding! I should finish the latter today, too! Hurrah. I am so pleased with myself. I rediscovered that photographing quilts is difficult. I have no fence, clothes lines, or other means to suspend one. I'm thinking about buying some quilt hangers or maybe some padded clippies. I don't know. I wonder what other people do who have my problem?

I also received my swap today! I was just gaga over it. So many delicious prints. I am beyond excited. I can't wait to cut into them--except I still need a replacement blade for my cutter! Boo. I need to do something about that fast!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Plodding Along

Okay, so Tuesday was a complete wash. I just didn't feel up to starting the assembly on my quilt top. Yesterday was better. I assembled all but two columns. The pattern comes together very quickly. I really like that. It's a real simple configuration but has the minimalist sophistication of a modern arrangement. Today, I finished the last two columns and sewed them all together (mostly). I made two 4-column blocks. I just need to marry the two together (one seam!) and my top is done! Yay :D I still, however, need to buy backing AND I need to sew the binding. Since I actually have fabric for the binding, I think I'll do that next ;D Probably after I finish the quilt top tomorrow morning.

I went out most of this afternoon on errands. I managed to stop by Jo-Ann's and actually found some yardage I like. I usually can't find anything there. The funny thing is I went there for a replacement rotary blade. They didn't have one, which was disappointing. Walking out with three quarter yard cuts certainly made up for it. One was Alexander Henry's all over lemon pattern, I can't remember the name. Another was some random dot pattern in bright cheerful colors. The last was from Happi by Dena (which is Dena Designs I'm taking since a few of the patterns Jo-Ann's had featured designs from Monaco). I would post pictures but dead camera battery. Maybe tomorrow if I remember to charge it.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Keeping Pace

A belated Labor Day to all. I had tons of fun, myself. We went to a lobster bake and the weather was perfect for it. My girl had a great time running around and being generally silly. I was so stuffed I only ate the claws off my lobster, so I brought it home to turn into mac and cheese (not something I've tried before, but how often does a person have lobster just lying around?). I even managed to do a bit of sewing yesterday.

In fact, I finished sewing all the 3-strip sections! I decided to go with the original pattern directions, and removed the extra column. It turns out that I have a piece of batting that is the PERFECT dimensions to be used with the original specs. Now the only thing I actually have to buy for the whole project is the backing! This is a first. Usually I'm missing over half of the things I need, so this is very refreshing. Today I subcut all the fabric and worked on the lay out. It's amazing how much time just arranging the fabric takes up!
I usually lose my place when I sew the columns together, so I numbered them this time. Hopefully, this will help me keep my original placement. I mean it *should*, but I have to allow for me being ditzy ;D I hope to get a few of these sewn together this evening. If I keep going like I have been, I think I could finish the quilt top by Thursday, but since I have no backing; I need to think of another small project that I can actually finish before the week ends. I've been thinking of a zippered bag to match my messenger bag, which would be cool and functional. I don't want to sew something just for the sake of it. If I start doing that, I won't know where to store all the brickabrack when I'm done (omg, don't get me started on my lack of storage space!).

Overall, this pattern (lawn chair quilt) has been fast, easy, and fun! Just the sort of thing I look for in a project :D If any of you have the time, and inclination, you should try your hand at it, too.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Week Two - NSM

I spent the better part of today trying to figure out what my next NSM (or as my guy calls it "NaSewMo" [nah-soh-moe]) project would be. I spent hours pouring over the fabrics I own (and resisted the siren song of buying more) and the patterns available to me. Ultimately, I settled on one of the newer Moda Bake Shop recipes by Happy Zombie (the same that brought us the poochie bag): the Lawn Chair Quilt.

I already own several jelly rolls--one of which just happens to be a basic solid. That fact made this recipe very appealing (and not just because it's totally cute) since now I only need to buy backing fabric. The only thing is this: there is another recipe I want to make that also takes one patterned JR and one solid JR, and I was saving my solid JR for it. It took a long time for me to make a decision. Since the second recipe is for a quilt I want to keep, and this is a Christmas gift, my decision was pretty much made for me.So, the Lawn Chair quilt calls for 3 jelly rolls, but makes two quilts. I don't need to make two quilts, so it was okay that I only own one solid roll. To make one quilt you use 16 out of the 40 strips with the finished size being roughly 48x75. I decided to add one more column to bring the size to ~54x75. Since I'm not making two quilts, I am going to use some of the remaining strips to make a scrappy binding.

I've always liked the way a scrappy binding looks, but I've never tried it. Now I have an excuse, and it keeps me from buying fabric for the binding to boot! I went ahead and paired the strips I want to use with the solid strips and left them ready to sew on my work table. Now there's no excuse for me not to start ;)

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Success :D

I went to a book faire today and managed to spend less than I usually do. Grabbed a few board books for my girl (even though I said I wouldn't, but they were only 50 cents each) and 4 books for me (a dollar each! such a steal). Hopefully, these books will distract me! I need to stop browsing for fabric, which is my number one hobby. I can't help but BUY. Especially when I run across rare finds. I wore my On the Go messenger bag to the faire and received many compliments! I can wear it across my chest, but I have to rotate it so that the body of the bag is behind me; which is actually pretty comfortable. It has a nice slouchy, informal presence. I really dig it. My guy asked me to make him one (but masculine, naturally). I am thinking of using Moda's cross weaves, but I'm not sure yet. I think the pieces that are cross-woven with the dark threads are guy-ish. I need to find a place that will swatch some for me, or at sell me a short cut (like quarter of a yard), so I can get his opinion. I want to pair it with some solid yardage (maybe chocolate? That's a nice, serviceable gender-neutral color). I'm thinking I'll make this sometime in October or November, if everything works out the way I want it to.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Week One - NSM

I'm taking my National Sewing Month ambitions seriously, and to prove it to myself, I finished my first project! Yay for me :D I decided to make a poochie bag for my daughter since she liked the first one I made so much (I made one for a swap). She really likes Dora the Explorer, so I went on the search for some yardage and found some at Wal-mart. Not my preferred place to buy fabric, but I take what I can get! I decided to purchase the coordinates there, too.
I really wish these fabrics were of higher quality, but to be fair, the whole project cost 4.47. That's not a lot. The fat quarters are like tissue, and practically dissolved when I cut them. Not to mention they were both a full inch short which made the project problematic once I removed the selvage. I had to rework it a little, but I managed to get something going--until I mis-cut my main fabric! I had to cobble something together as you can see.I made it a lining piece since the yellow wasn't going to be large enough, and I had a half yard of the Dora (the pattern called for 3 FQs - main body, lining, handles). The yellow became the handles and the bag pockets. The bag has the 2" pooch to make the bag a little roomer and shorter. I'm tickled that I finished it the same day I started, in just a few hours (my girl went out with her grandparents so I had uninterrupted sewing time).She was asleep when she came home, so she hasn't seen it yet. I can't wait for her to see it! She was running around with the fabric before she left chanting, "my Dora," so I'm taking that as a promising sign, but we'll see :D

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

National Sewing Month

So apparently September is Sewing Month. This is pretty awesome and inspiring. I decided to celebrate by completing at least one project a week (this sounds a little ambitious, even to me, but I'm going to try anyway.). I even cleaned my workbench and sorted through my project box! Go me, heh. I'm thinking I will tackle some UFOs and Christmas presents. One thing I was to make is some applique dish towels. A friend of the family owns a linen service, and gave us a bunch of kitchen towels that he deemed too threadbare for his service.You can see the fray at the edges in the picture. I'm planning on cutting the towels down a little and remaking the edges. The best thing is this is recycling and the towels have been laundered multiple times before, so they are at full absorbency. Not to mention the fact that the giftees won't be afraid to use them (I do that sometimes, and don't use a perfectly good something because it's too new and pretty).

On another, related, note: I finished my On the Go messenger bag. It was a little touch and go, and OMG I must have cut some of that fabric blindfolded and in the dark with a butter knife. I triple checked, but wow. I must have really had my 'head' some where else. I like how it turned out though.

The fabric flower was a swap gift from Adrienne :D I love the contrast. The bag was screaming out for something to break up the repetitive red/brown pattern. I am considering appliquing the front, but we'll see if I get around to it!