Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Big Oops!

So this past weekend was full of ups and downs both in daily life and quilting life, which brings me to Mistake #2, or "The Big Oops!" Sometimes I forget that just how inexperienced I am as a quilter and I get a little too overzealous. I forget that I still have a lot to learn - or remember rather! I finished piecing Ruthie's quilt top with ease. Piecing is, after all, the easy part for me since that's just basic sewing. And it's the fun part too, in my opinion. So, I finished the quilt top, took some pictures, made my quilt sandwich (which I have to admit is probably my least favorite part of the process) and was ready to quilt. Dum... dum... dum... Mistake #2 reared it's ugly head.


I left the backing fabric in tact while I was making my quilt sandwich. I figured this way I could simply trim the backing fabric down right before I started quilting and conserve as much of the extra fabric as possible. Here is where my overzealousness led me to Mistake #2 (which funny enough I didn't realize I had made until AFTER I made Mistake #3!) Instead of trimming just the backing fabric I, stupidly, trimmed down the entire quilt sandwich (as if I had already quilted the entire quilt)! And to make matters WORSE as I was trimming down one side I trimmed it down to 1" instead of 2"!!! Seriously, I am an experienced sewer. I know as well of anyone else to MEASURE TWICE AND CUT ONCE! Sigh! I almost died when I realized what I had done. And then I realized that I wasn't supposed to trim down the quilt now. I was a step ahead of myself!


Thankfully, the quilting gods were shining down on me that night and when I quilted it all together. The quilt didn't really shift and all the layers stayed perfectly in tact. I don't know who was looking out for me but all I can say is, "THANK YOU"!

Chalk it up to a learning experience. That's all I can do. I can tell you I will never make the same mistake again. I mean I know I'll make many, many more mistakes in the years of quilting ahead of me, just hopefully not the same ones! Now that the premature heart attack has abated and the quilt has been saved, I can get re-centered while I move onto binding.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Ruthie's Quilt Top... Check!


Saturday my wonderful and amazing fiance had his fantasy football draft so he was out of the house most of the day and you know what that means... hours of pure, unadulterated sewing! Ruthie's baby shower is next weekend so all my focus was on her quilt. And the quilt top is done! Woo Hoo! But I had a little problem when I was piecing the last row. Can you tell?


Look closely...


I ran out of squares! I found myself 8 squares short when I got to the two long rows. Yikes! So I came up with a solution that I think works and now I'm calling it my happy accident! Thankfully there was a strip of solid yellow and one of solid green in the jelly roll so I peppered them into the two long strips.


Thankfully it was a mistake I could hide and it looks like an intentional piece of the design aesthetic. Oh, if that was the only mistake! More on that later...

Saturday, August 28, 2010

All Aboard the Swap Train!

Scrappy Pincushion Swap Mosaic

It seems as though I have hopped aboard the Swap Train! Round 2 of the Scrappy Pincushion Swap has opened up over on Flickr so I decided to join in the fun. I even made my first mosaic, to aid my swap partner, whomever they may be, when we get assigned. I loved seeing all the amazing pincushion creations floating around the blogosphere and Flickr world lately so I'm excited to be a part of round two. Sign ups are still open if you want to join in the action!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Sneak Peek at Ruthie's Quilt Top


Ruthie's little quilt is coming together. I really haven't had any time to work on it since last weekend, but I wanted to give you a quick peek so you could see how it was coming along. I am really happy with how it is all falling into place. I think I am going to add one more row of the colored blocks and then one more row of white sashing and then I think the quilt top will be complete.


When I was at the fabric store last week I ended up buying this green stripped fabric for the quilt back. What do you think?


Now my only question is this: What to do about the binding? I saw some adorable white fabric with large polka dots (I think Michael Miller) but I decided against it because I thought maybe the polka dots would be too much with the stripes. Then I considered keeping it simple and going with a solid binding, in a soft yellow perhaps, to play off the yellow in the quilt top and contrast from the green in the quilt backing. Hummm. I'm not sure what to do yet and I need to make a decision soon. Any thoughts?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Giving Back


There are some pretty cool people doing really great things for others out there in the blogosphere and I feel compelled to tell you a little bit about these cool projects. Maybe you'll want to help out or maybe they'll inspire you to start your own mission of love.

Firstly, Alissa of Handmade by Alissa is raising money for a great cause called Action Kivu. The funds raised will go to help women and their children in the Congo who are victims of violence. The organization teaches the women to sew, giving them a skill they can use to support themselves and their families. And the money also helps pay for their children's education. Even if you can't donate anything right now, please check out Alissa's blog and this amazing organization.

The second project I found thanks to Green Eyed Silversmith's blog. It's called Iraqi Bundles of Love and this awesome guy organizes sewing care packages to be sent to help Iraqi women. Really, you should check it out!

People out in the world helping other people like this is what it's all about. It makes me rethink my career path for sure. At least I can help out in my own little way.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Piecing Ruthie's Quilt Top


I mentioned in my last post that Saturday was very productive. Not only did I get my charms cut and ready to ship out for the charm swap, I found inspiration in the form of a Hello Betty jelly roll for Ruthie's baby quilt. AND I finally decided on what to make for her! After much deliberation, the latest quilt-a-long quilt featured over at Crazy Mom Quilts just kept calling and calling. So I finally answered! The simple squares in conjunction with the soft pastel palate of the 30's inspired Hello Betty line just seemed to say "Hello Baby!" to me.

Since I'm making this quilt baby sized I didn't follow her tutorial by the book, but I just used it as inspiration for the quilt. I knew that if I followed her cutting directions I would end up with way too much so I decided to implement my own "cut as I go" method... sort of...

I started out by "eyeballing" approximately 40" inches of the Moda Bella White fabric and cutting my 2.5" strips. After the first two cuts I realized that I was cutting the wrong way so my strips ended up shorter than they should have, but this ended up not mattering much because, thankfully, I ended up using up all my white strips before they got too short!

Ruthie doesn't know what she's having so I decided to stick with "gender neutral" yellows and greens. I pulled out all of the fabric strips in the jelly roll in yellow and green that had corresponding patterns and married them to the white strips, just like in the tutorial then cut those down to 2.5" each and ended up with eight beautiful little piles of half squares. I know that I am going to end up with leftovers, but I can use them in another project. I am loving this quilt so much I am sure I will end up making it again, quite possibly very soon!


I am all for chaos, but if I'm really honest about it I have to admit that I like organized chaos. So as I piece this quilt top together I lay out my half squares in each row before I sew together my next strip. I know I want to alternate yellow and green and up until this point in the quilt top I have been avoiding placing coordinating fabrics next to each other. Although, I am toying with the idea of putting coordinates directly next to each other for the final layer but I'm not sure yet. What do you think?

Piecing the quilt top together went much faster than I thought it would and in the matter of a few hours I had most of the quilt top together. After my wonderful and amazing fiance came home from work I decided to take a break for the day. But I think just one, or maybe two, more rows and the quilt top will be finished. I can probably finish it up with another hour or two of work.


My only concern is the accent colors present in a couple of the fabrics. I know that I can get away with the blue if the baby ends up being a girl, but do you think the pink automatically prevents it from being a boy's quilt? I thought having both the pink and the blue would help make it gender neutral and balance each other out but maybe it's too pastel-y overall for a boy? Hmmm... What do you think?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Hurrah for Productive Weekends!

I had an incredibly productive weekend and as usual I crammed a lot of activity into a mere two days. Saturday my wonderful and amazing fiance had some work to do so I took that as an opportunity to run down to my favorite little local craft store to see if I could find any fabrics to inspire me for Ruthie's baby quilt. I pretty much had decided that I was going to work with an orange and turquoise color palate so I was rather shocked when I ended up walking out with a jelly roll of Hello Betty by Moda! I just wasn't feeling the orange and turquoise selection at the store and I started browsing the pre-cuts and the Hello Betty started calling out to me. Suddenly Ruthie's baby quilt started coming together in my head. Bingo! Inspiration!


I also joined my very first swap, a charm swap, and the colorway our lovely hostess chose was Pink. Now, I might sometimes have pink hair, but I'm not really a pink person so there's not a lot of pink in my stash but I still wanted to participate because I know that pink can be cool and I have so many friends having babies that pink can probably come in real handy! But that meant I had to pick up some pink fabric for the charm swap and, I have to say that surprisingly I am pretty happy with what I found! Especially the hot pink chandelier fabric - I have been eyeing that for months and finally had an excuse to get me some! So my charms are cut and on their way to our wonderful Swap Hostess. I can't wait to see what comes back to me!


Lastly, the Hope Circle in the do. Good Stitches Bee finally filled up but no one stepped up to host the circle, so I did. I am so excited to get started on this project so I couldn't let our little circle go host-less. I'm trying to get things in gear so we can start in September, fingers crossed!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Looking For A Few Good Quilters

I am in an amazing charity bee called do.Good Stitches and we're looking for a few good quilters to round out the Hope and Faith circles. Quilters are responsible for planning a quilt 2-3 times per year (or however long you remain a quilter - you can always just give it a try!). You share the plan with your circle, and then assemble the blocks and finish the quilt within the next month. Lastly, you ship the finished quilt to Piecing Hope, from where it will go on to an African orphan.

Now, I have only quilted three quilts in my life but I'm willing to give it a go as a quilter in the Hope Circle. The way I figure it, this will help me practice my quilting skills AND I get the added bonus of knowing that I am providing a quilt to a child in need.

If you would like to join us in either the Hope or Faith Circle you can sign up on our
Flickr group. I hope to "see" you there!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


My friend Ruthie is having a baby in September and I am helping to throw her a shower over Labor Day Weekend - the irony is not lost on us! So, now that I am back and I'm caught up on all of my bee blocks I have some time to get to work on a quilt for Ruthie. The problem: I don't know what to do! Usually I have several ideas of quilts I want to make when I sit down to design a new baby quilt for a friend but I am struggling with this one and I don't know why. I've gone to my inspiration files and my galleries on flickr and I've come up with so many quilts and color combos that I love but for some reason nothing is feeling right for this project. I just don't know.

So I need some help. Here's what I'm thinking...

Option #1 - Plaid Quilt
Why? I loved the block I made this month for Leah from the first moment I saw it on the Block Party Blog. I think if I lay it out in the "tartan style" it might be a really cool, sophisticated baby quilt. But will it be too busy?

Why? I really love the simplicity of this quilt. I fell in love with it as soon as the quilt-a-long was announced on her website, unfortunately I was on the road for work and I couldn't participate when it was going on live but I have been planning to make one myself as soon as I found the time. The problem? Will I want to keep it for myself or will I get burnt out on the pattern and NOT make a full sized one for me?

Photo from Crazy Mom Quilts

And then there is the color scheme. Ruthie doesn't know what she's having so I need to make something gender neutral for her. I was kind of thinking that something along the lines of turquoise and orange might be cool. I could stick with something a little less intense with these patterns and go with greens. I don't know. What do you think?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Red & Aqua Part 2 August Blocks


I was moderately productive this weekend, despite the fact that I didn't have much time to sew. Thankfully I had enough time to finish up all my bee blocks for the month and they are already off in the mail and on the way to their respective homes. I was equally as excited about this month's block for Leah in the Red and Aqua 2 Bee as I was in Flaun's blocks. Leah actually picked a variation on a block that I was oh, so close to picking last month when it was my turn in the Sewn Together Bee. Leah asked us each to make the "Born In the USA" variation of the plaid block recently showcased on the Block Party! Blog. Alyssa's inspired variation was so much fun to make. Leah also asked us to add our own personal touch to the block in the form of another variation. Instead of the large 7x7" block in the corner she had us piece together a 7x7" block adding three 2.5" squares of fabric from our own stash so long as they were red or aqua. I fussy cut a piece of Woodland Chain in Strawberry from Circa 50 by Monaluna to showcase the little mushrooms. Then I added a piece of Hunky Dory by Chez Moi for Moda, again fussy cut to showcase the happy little flower. Finally I cut in some Spa by Rosemarie Lavin.


Leah also asked us to help her make a border block for her quilt, again giving us the freedom to add fabric from our personal stash. I, personally, love being able to add a little fabric from my stash. I think it adds a new dimension and you get a little piece of the person added into your quilt. I added strips from the three fabrics I added to the block and then I also added two fabrics from the Bliss (by Bonne and Camille for Moda) charm pack I won last month. I used them on each end of the strip because I felt like it needed a little more aqua for balance.


I am in love with these plaid blocks and I am going to have to make a quilt of my own using this variation. It might be a nice little baby quilt, don't you think? But more on that later...

Monday, August 16, 2010

Sewn Together August Blocks

Flaun's blocks for this month in the Sewn Together Bee are finally finished and on their way home! Woo Hoo! I actually had a little bit of time to get a little sewing done this weekend, in between brunch and concerts (Billy Idol rocks!) and barbecues with friends. As you may have heard mention before, Flaun gave us creative license with our blocks this month - with only a few parameters that I wrote about here. I cannot begin to tell you how much fun I had with her blocks this month. It was creatively liberating! I was so excited about her blocks that I actually made three for her. I know, I went a little crazy, but what's a girl to do with leftover fabric but sew!


The first block I made for her was very symmetrical and linear. I knew I wanted to make her a rectangle block because I have been inspired lately by some rectangular blocks I've seen other people making. I like clean lines and the modern feel a rectangle evokes. So first I sketched out a prototype. It was actually the first time I sketched before quilting. I suppose that's because I am a new quilter and I was designing something on my own and I found that I really enjoyed the process so now I have graph paper and colored pencils on my shopping list! Initially I wanted the dark brown solid to be thicker and more prominent but I didn't have enough to make the border as meaty as I wanted so I ended up with this...


I was really happy with how the first block turned out but I knew that I wanted to give her something a little different for my second block. I like circles and I know that Flaun does too, so I combined straight, clean lines with small circles that I hand stitched onto the block, creating almost a polka dot effect. I was initially going to do larger circles but I had fabric constraints. I actually used a Danish Kroner that I had from my recent trip to Denmark to trace the circles onto the fabric and then I cut them by hand.


Finally, with fabric supplies running low, save the cool atomic blue, I came up with her final block. Last month was mine in our bee and Flaun had commented on how much she liked the circles and mused over the idea of concentric, overlapping circles and how cool that might be, so that's what I tried to give her. I knew that if I placed the atomic blue over the atomic blue it would get lost so I made that circle smaller than the dotted yellow and the solid blue and kept it inside the other two circles. I did have a small piece of the solid brown fabric left and I considered adding a small "polka dot" sized brown circle but in the end I liked the simplicity of the three circles. These were big enough for me to machine sew onto the background fabric. I did consider cutting the background fabric into a circle as well, but I thought that would be too difficult for her to incorporate into her finished quilt.


Flaun is a very brave woman for allowing our creativity to run wild like this and I thank her for it! I can't wait to see how the finished masterpiece comes together!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Finding Inspiration for Flaun

Last night I finished up the second block for Flaun for this month in the Sewn Together Bee. Her comment was a simple "Wow" so I think that means she likes it. As I said earlier I am having so much fun with her blocks this month. I am pretty much out of the solid brown and yellow fabric she sent (save a few useable scraps) but I have enough of the yellow patterned fabric, the blue solid and the atomic blue pattern (a ton of that one!) to make one more block. The question is what do I make?

I started looking through some of awesome blocks I've seen on some other blogs that I thought might be up Flaun's alley. I really wanted to make something like this awesome circle block I saw over on the Block Party Blog but I knew I wouldn't have enough variety of fabrics to make the circle really sing the way I wanted it too.

Then I have also been eyeing a really cool block over at misserincrafts that I think could work really well with the limited amount of fabric choices I have left to work with. And I also really like this block.

I love this block from misserincrafts.
But then there is something really lovely and graphic about Briana Arlene's block that I think could really work if I did some fussy cutting on the atoms.

geometry in progress
So you see my quandary? Sigh. It will come to me. I know it will. Hopefully I'll have something to show you this weekend.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Creative Juices Flowing

I must say that I have been having so much fun with the blocks I am making for the Sewn Together Bee this month! Flaun wanted us to do our own thing with her blocks this month giving us a few pictures for inspiration and only a few parameters. Anything goes for her as long as it has a modern bent. She created this Gallery of Inspiration for us.

Working on Flaun's Second Block

Six months ago, when I finally learned how to quilt, I never would have thought I would be capable of such creative inspiration when it came to piecing. I knew I could sew, but who knew I could quilt. I am really starting to feel like a Quilter. I am gaining more confidence in my ability to put colors together. I am unafraid to tackle, even the most difficult, paper pieced blocks (although they still frustrate me). And the two bees I joined have really helped my skills grow in a very short amount of time. I can barely wait for the Hope Circle to fill up in my third bee so we can get the party started! Stop me before I join another bee!

Detail on Flaun's Second Block

I am absolutely loving making these blocks. It's really getting the create juices flowing, and it doesn't hurt that she has the same tastes I do. Coming back from Europe I have been feeling really inspired and creative so this challenge came at just the right time. After I looked at Flaun's gallery I started searching my own inspiration folder. I recently discovered the RSS reader on my Mac that feeds directly into my mail application. I had been using Google Reader up until this point and whenever I would see a post that inspired me in some way I would "Star" it but I couldn't figure out a way that I could organized the starred posts so I could sift through them easily. Having the RSS feeds come directly into my mail application is genius! I was able to create a folder (with sub-folders - yes, I am that anal. I am a producer, what do you expect?!) and I can simply pull my favorite posts into the folder to save them. So now when I am looking for inspiration for my next quilt or color scheme or bee block, as the case may be, I can just go into my Quilting File and pull up my favorites. You can see that I even made a file to help inspire me as I was making Flaun's blocks. I can easily move those posts into other folders when I am done with that file.

Screen shot 2010-08-12 at 11.44.15 AM

What do you do when you see another blog post that inspires you? I can't be the only organized creative type out there.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Back in the "Sewing" of Things

After a week back I am slowly starting to get back into the swing of things. I came home from my trip and I was greeted with awesome blocks from my Sewn Together Bee! I can’t wait to sit down and start laying out the blocks for the quilt they’re helping me make for my wonderful and amazing fiancĂ©!

for Sewn Together Hollie
Sorrel's Blocks for me.

Sewn Together BeeSewn Together Bee July

Mandy's blocks for me.

July block for Sewn Together July block for Sewn Together

Anna's Blocks for me.

I also won a giveaway just before I left and I was greeted with a fantastic Bliss charm pack courtesy of Katy over here! Thanks Katy! I can’t wait to make something with it!

I'm a Winner!Bliss

I also finally got all of my online fabric purchases organized! Yes, I know I bought a lot of fabric when I was away. But it’s so easy now that we can shop online. The internet really is a dangerous thing, isn’t it?


I am very excited, too, that I was finally able to join in the do. Good Stitches Charity Bee. I read about this really amazing project on Rachel's blog last month. She has added two more charities and with that, more openings. We're still looking for quilters and stitchers in the Hope circle and the Faith circle. And if we get enough interest we just might open up another circle for a charity called Threading Hope I found that I would love to help out. Check out the bee and let Rachel know if you want to join us.

Lastly, I got caught up on my bee blocks for July and I started working on my blocks for this month. We also decided that I can turn our garage office into my work studio, so in the coming weeks (who am I kidding with my workload it will be months) I am going to start working on transforming the space. My first order of business is to create a design wall. I’ve been reading other blogs, getting tips, techniques and ideas together and one of these days I’ll be ready to execute my master plan. Until then, I’m still working at the dining room table…

Monday, August 9, 2010

I Hate Paper Piecing!

I was going to post about how much I HATE paper piecing. I get so frustrated and it seems like it should be so easy! But I took a step back, a deep breath and walked away from the machine. And instead of taking pen to paper right then and there, like I should have, I let myself calm down and my frustration passed.

A few days later when I sat back down at my machine I ended up with this…


And I must say I am pleased with the result. So, while I might hate paper piecing, I do love the end result so it’s kind of a catch 22. I think my problems with paper piecing start with my brain. I am not a mathematical person. I am a creative type. That’s why I write and make TV shows for a living. I wish I were good at math. I always loved science but struggled in class because of the math. It’s simply not the way my brain functions. And I know there’s really not math involved in paper piecing, per se, but it’s just figuring out the angles and that’s where my brain starts to fry. I suppose the frustration stems from me thinking that I’ve place the fabric at the right angle and then I sew and it’s off so I have to rip out stitches and try it again, sometimes multiple times, until I get it right.

In between the screams and the ripped stitches I did find a few new techniques that ended up helping me as I got further along. I am, by no means, an expert at paper piecing – nor do I ever think I will be – but I did make some new discoveries that helped me as I worked.


First of all, I must admit that Mollie is a dear woman for sending an abundance of white fabric for these blocks. These blocks are for her in the Red and Aqua 2 Bee. Having extra fabric really makes all the difference. But I was conservative with my cuts because I knew I wanted to make two blocks for her and I didn’t want to run out of the white fabric. When all was said and done I had plenty of white left over. But I cannot stress enough that paper piecing isn’t the place to be conservative with fabric; having an abundance is helpful, but not thrifty.


Since I struggle with the angles when I’m paper piecing I finger press my seams to try and get the fabric nestled in at the correct angle, and this helps but I also started machine basting the pieced together. I know this creates an extra step, but since I am not proficient at paper piecing yet this really helped me when I had to rip out the stitches. I found it far easier to machine baste my fabric together, check to make sure it fit properly and then stitch over my basting stitches to secure in place. Then if I HAD to rip out stitches and start again it was much easier.

Also, chalk is my friend. I tried using chalk to mark the lines on my fabric to help with the layout. Any thing to get it right! And I don’t know about you, but I always iron in between pieces. My iron is always on and at the ready. It helps keep the lines cleaner and sharper.


At the end of the day I am really, truly happy with how these blocks for Mollie turned out. And joining a bee has been so rewarding in ways I never expected. I love the challenge of learning a new technique and pushing my sewing skills to the next level. As much as I bitch, moan and complain about paper piecing I will happily attack the next one that comes my way because with every block I further my skills and hopefully learn something new that will make the next one easier. And frankly, the end result makes it all worth it… almost.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

What I Did On My Summer Vacation...


I am finally back home, and it's about time! My poor sewing machine has been so neglected, and because I was away from home for nearly six weeks I am behind on my bee blocks for July. I can't complain too much because the last ten days I have been traveling for pleasure instead of work. I got to see some amazing things in Iceland, Denmark and Sweden but best of all, I spent four glorious days with my Cast B Family. I couldn't ask for anything better. I am just so sad that I will have to wait 1088 days until we can get this big a group of us all in the same room again.


I can't wait until this weekend when I will have some serious time to start sewing again. But until then I thought I would share a couple pictures from my trip, then I promise back to quilting!