Thursday, June 30, 2011

Little Stitches Sew-Along?

It seems like everyone I know is having babies. Seriously. Even my friends who thought they were done having babies are pregnant. Lucky for me, that means I get to dive head first into Amy Butler's "Little Stitches for Little Ones". I picked up this book a while ago because I really loved the projects in the book but I haven't really had an excuse to make any of them until now.


Have you seen this book? There are some super adorable projects inside and I'm not even much of a baby person. So I'm thinking about doing a sew-along. I'm going to attempt to make every project in the book. I'll tackle one a week and share my thoughts on each project. What do you think? Does it sound interesting? Anyone want to sew along with me?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Busy Mail Day

It's a busy mail day thanks to me. I popped two packages in the mail destined for destinations unknown. Of course, I know where they're heading but I can't tell you yet. I promise for a big reveal once I know they have safely reached their new homes. The first one doesn't have too far to travel. It's destined for my secret partner in Round 5 of the Pillow Talk Swap...


The other one has to travel a little farther and it's on it's way to my partner in the Spicing Up the Kitchen Swap...


I ended up wrapping all their goodies in the fabric I pulled to give to each. The large wrappings are half yards (except for the Park Slope - that's two large scraps) and the ties are either fabric scraps strips or ribbon. All are intended to end up in my partner's respective stashes. I really had fun making both projects. I just hope that my partners feel the same way!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Red & Aqua on the Wall

Can I just tell you how much I love my portable design wall? I made it in two pieces so it can accommodate the really wide quilts and it's so super light that I can easily move it from my (currently non-functional) studio space into the dining room in the house to play. Last night I started futzing around with the Quatrefoil Auction Quilt. I am experimenting with layouts. I will admit that I like balance and structure a little more than I wish I did and that was difficult with these blocks. I gave my fellow bee members quite a bit of freedom when making these blocks, allowing them to add their own fabrics, etc. The only instructions I gave were the block pattern and that I wanted the background white, otherwise they could play with the placements of the red and aqua fabrics as they desired. In the end many of the blocks ended up similar but there were five that ended up with large petals that weren't made out of the red floral fabric. All the rest were. I must admit that I fell in love with one of those odd ball blocks so much that I put it aside and I'm making a pillow for myself out of it. Shhh! Don't tell anyone!


I loved the odd ball blocks and decided to use the remaining four in each of the corners. Then I was going to alternate between aqua corners and red corners but I didn't have enough aqua corners for that to happen so I just started (semi) randomly throwing blocks up onto the wall. I think I like the layout that I've got up right now but at the moment I've got a debate going on in my head. Do I piece the blocks together as a centerpiece and then sash around them all in white...


...OR do I sash around each block in white so it's less "busy'?


That's today's great debate. Any thoughts?

P.S. Sorry for the crappy pictures. I was really in quite a rush when I took these.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Playing Around


I've only had a few spare moments lately to sew but I finished the dishtowel for my SUTK partner. These towels are so easy I think I might start adding them to every swap package. I know that I can never have too many dishtowels lying around.


And I also have something new up on my design wall...


I am finally getting around to playing with the Quatrefoil Blocks that members of the Red & Aqua 2 Bee made me last year. I promised to donate a quilt to the UWPIAA Silent Auction at this year's reunion. Unfortunately time is escaping me so I thought this might make a gorgeous donation. Time to start playing with the layout.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Runner Troubles


I promise that a review on spray basting will be coming soon but I guess I am glad that I have waited to get a few more projects under my belt before reviewing because I rand into my first bit of trouble. I take full responsibility for my own stupidity. I should have known better, especially working with linen. But I thought I was being clever.


I laid out my hexies on top of the linen piece that I was planning to use as the top of my table runner. That's when I got this *bright* idea to use spray baste to adhere the hexies to the linen rather than sew them in place. There was a reason that made perfect sense to me. I wanted the stitching I used to tack the hexies down to also act as quilting. The less stitches the better, right? The spray basting actually wasn't the problem here. The spray baste worked well to adhere the hexies to the linen and to make my quilt sandwich. I think the same problem would have occurred if I had hand basted them on instead.


I made my quilt sandwich and then I started quilting the runner, beginning with the hexies to secure them in place. Then life got in the way and I folded the runner up and put it aside until I could get back to working on it this weekend. I pulled it out and laid it down and discovered that the linen had shifted and not refused to lie flat in between the two group of stitched down hexies!. Arugh! In hindsight it makes sense but in the moment I was frustrated and left with two options; 1) Rip out the quilting of the smaller group of hexies or 2) Cut off the small group and make the runner smaller. I ended up opting for Option #2 because, honestly, I have been stressing over the length of the runner overall. When I put out a general request to find out a desired runner length I didn't get an answer from my partner but others chimed in and seemed to want runners shorter than I had designed so I chopped.


I still really love how it's turning out overall despite the issues I had. I am using variegated yellow Gutterman 100% Cotton thread to quilt it. And I'm getting ready to start binding. The only question now is, "What do I do with the small end that I hacked off?"


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Hand Stitching in Bed


It's been quiet around here this week, partly because I've been getting into the swing of things at work but also because I've been sick. Bummer, I know. It's just a Summer cold but it hasn't been fun and yesterday it was coupled with a migraine so I was down for the count until my migraine meds kicked in. I didn't feel much like getting out of bed so instead I took to a couple of hand sewing projects.


I started working on some hexies to match the table runner I'm making for my SUTK partner.


I picked up some bar towels at a local restaurant supply store and these are going to accent a new towel for my partner's kitchen.


Then I finished the Easy Echino Pillow. I ended up deciding to pull out the purple French knots, favoring the less is more approach. I figure that after I live with the pillow for a while I can always add them back if I feel the pillow is lacking.


I also decided to do a little embellishment on the back...


On one of the cheetahs I added French knots to his spots.


Then I used a lilac purple to hand stitch around one of the circles.


I love this pillow, as simple as it was to make. It just goes to show that complicated doesn't necessarily mean better.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Last Weekend of Freedom

Vacation is over. So sad. I'm officially back to work. I can't believe how quickly those three glorious weeks passed. This weekend we enjoyed some time at home, cooking, entertaining, gardening and (of course) sewing, which the hubs wanted to document on "film".


I decided to embellish the Easy Echino Pillow a little. I pulled some Perle Cottons (size 5) and started hand stitching. I started with echo stitching around the tree. Then I decided that I was going to add some french knots to some, but not all, of the purple dotted circles.




I liked the way the french knots looked so I started adding red french knots to the center of the coral flowers. I thought the red gave a nice, subtle contrast to the coral in the flowers. Then I did the same in blue to the teal flowers and added a little more hand stitching in blue and gold throughout.


After I put this altogether I started to re-evaluate the purple french knots. I'm not as crazy about them. I think I might pull them out. What do you think?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Easy Echino Pillow Cover

All of this Pillow Talk Swap stuff has inspired me. Quite a while ago my sweet and adorable husband and I picked up some Echino at Sew L.A. in Silverlake. His favorite color is purple and he loved the animal prints. The intention was always to make some pillows but I just never got around to it. Yesterday I made a trip to Joann's armed with several 50% off coupons to pick up a pillow form, among some other essentials (like a new can of spray baste) and I came home inspired to make him a pillow as a surprise before he got home. Now he really can't say I never make anything for him.


I kept this one simple and let the fabric speak for itself. Marc loves Africa. He's traveled the continent extensively and even lived there for a bit so this fabric seemed more than appropriate and matches out decor well. (Excuse the wrinkles, please. I am battling a bad case of insomnia and spent most of the night cuddling with this pillow on the couch so I didn't disturb the husband. At least it gave me a chance to catch up on all my blog reading.)


On the back I used some Echino cheetahs that I picked up recently at Momen +, an awesome fabric store in the South Bay that specializes in Japanese Imports. I trimmed the back with some Echino Polka Dots, again found at Momen +.


The pillow measures 20"x20" and it came together so incredibly fast. I finished it well before he got home. He actually asked if I could make several more just like it, Unfortunately I don't think I have enough of the purple animal print fabric to make more pillows this size - or maybe I can eek out one more. I do have so much other great Echino fabric in my stash, though, that I think I can whip up some coordinating pillows that will make him happy. I am debating using some coordinating Perle Cotton to hand stitch around the trees and flowers to add some texture and detail. What do you think?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

do. Good Stitches June Blocks

I've been a busy little bee over here. I finished the pillow for my secret partner in the Pillow Talk Swap. I can't show it to you yet because I don't want to spoil it for my partner. As soon as she gets it I'll make the big reveal over here. I also started quilting the table runner for my partner in the SUTK Swap. I have to say I am becoming a big fan of spray baste and variegated thread. What I can show you today are the blocks I made for Natalie. June is her month in the Hope Circle of the do. Good Stitches Bee. She asked for two spiderweb blocks using Raspberry and Chartruse as our colors. I didn't have any raspberry and only a little chartruse in my stash so it was an excuse to buy some.

I adore this color combo. I think it's delightful. And the fabrics that I got to add to my stash thanks to these blocks are so yummy. Seriously I am thinking about making an entire quilt from this combo. Aren't they delicious?

do. Good Stitches is a great way to give back to children in need. Our circle benefits Threading Hope which provides blankets to children in need worldwide. Please check out the group and sign up if you're interested in joining as either a Quilter or a Stitcher. We're always starting new circles and looking for a few good sewists!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Partner Progress

While I have become more selective about the Bees and Swaps I join and I have cut back in an effort to reduce my commitments, I am currently participating in the latest rounds of the Pillow Talk Swap and the Spicing Up The Kitchen Swap. Both swaps have July 1st deadlines but I wanted to get a jump start on both projects during my hiatus. I think I have a pretty clear vision of what each of my secret partners would like and I have been making some headway.


I'm making a table runner for my SUTK partner using linen and the hexies I made on my trip. I'm trying something new and I spray basted the hexies onto the linen once I settled on a layout. So far this seems to be working.


I thought I had settled on the pillow design for my partner in the PTS but this weekend an idea hit me and I ran with it. I have to say, I was extremely nervous as I was piecing this pillow. I really wasn't sure if my kooky idea was going to work, but I think it does. My plan is to fussy cut a hexie in the middle but I can't show you that yet because I think it will give everything away to my partner. What do you think so far?

Friday, June 3, 2011

Kauai Recap and a Catch Up


The sweet and adorable husband and I had a wonderful time on Kauai last week. We returned relaxed and sunkissed. When we travel it's usually adventure travel to developing nations spending a month or more on the road exploring. This was very different. This was a vacation. We laid on secluded beaches, drank Mai Tais by the pool, hiked part of the Na Pali Trail. It was a little slice of heaven. I actually got through over 300 pages of my book. It felt so good to read again. And I even managed to get in a little sewing. I made these lovelies for my SUTK swap project while I was there...


And, of course, we did a little fabric shopping to add to our travel fabric collection...


The Hawaiian prints aren't really my thing but it was appropriate. I think the majority of the prints are going to go into a beach quilt and the leftovers will get added into the travel fabric stash because, frankly, I don't see how they're going to fit in with the rest of the ethnic fabrics we've picked up in our travels.

And to continue my catch up posts of pictures on that camera I was finally able to download I'd like to share the package I received from Shruti in the last round of the UHG Swap. Again, I am sorry that I am so late in sharing everything. Shruti took my love for solids and made me this colorful package!


She made me a really neat sewing utility belt that says "sew" and has three awesome pockets to store my scissors, thread, rulers, or anything else I need readily handy while I'm working.


Check out the cute little details...


And the detachable pincushion is so creative...


She also sent me a cheery mini quilt to adorn my sewing space and some cool fabrics from her home in India.



Thank you so much Shruti!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

do. Good Stitches May Blocks

I am slowly getting caught up in all my crafty endeavors. Some things I can't share quite yet, but I will soon. Others, like these Hope Circle bee blocks for May, I can tell you about. Last month Robyn asked for two 12.5" blocks in any design of our choosing. She was only strict about the color scheme: true green (not minty or limey), and white with grey, charcoal or black accents. Green is my favorite color so I immediately went right to my stash and much to my surprise I didn't have any green fabrics that I thought would work. Crazy, huh? Not a one "true" green in the mix. So I headed to the LQS to find some. I restrained myself and only ended up buying three 1/2 yd. cuts of greens that would be appropriate. I ended up with two green apple greens and one evergreen green - all Christmas fabrics but none of them distinctively holiday. I thought about testing out a block pattern that I've been designing in my head but in the end my creativity and time were at a minimum. Instead this is what I came up with...

I've been drooling over this asymmetrical sunburst design for a while and I royally screwed it up! Oh my. You should see the craziness I hid under the appliqued circle. None of my points matched up and it was all kinds of crazy so I really don't have any tips for this kind of block yet because I am so far from mastering it. It's amazing what we can do in our sewing to hide little (and in this case BIG) imperfections and still be pleased with the results. I actually really like how this block turned out.

I turned to the old favorites HST for the second block. Each square was 2.5" and then I added a border to bring my block up to the desired 12.5 inches. I decided to add the border for two reasons and both of them are a result of my laziness. Yep! I'l admit it. I was L-A-Z-Y when I got to this block. A) I didn't want to do the math. B) I got tired of making all those HSTs. Funny thing is, I really want to make another HST quilt soon but this block was getting tedious. Maybe it was just my mood yesterday and the fact that I really wanted to get these blocks done and out the door.

I hope Robyn is pleased with the blocks and I can't wait to see her final creation. If you're interested in joining us over at the do. Good Stitches Bee on Flickr I encourage you to check out our group and then fill out a new member form. New circles are starting up all the time and we're always looking for new members to fill in spots when other members have to leave. It's a great way to put your sewing skills to good use to help others.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Fabric Junkie

Hi. My name is Hollie and I am a Fabric Addict.

Yesterday, as I was out running errands, I decided to stop by the Urban Craft Center. I hadn't been there in a while - probably since Sew Modern opened. I had an agenda, really I did. I was looking for true green and yellow fabric. I wanted a little more true green for the May blocks for the Hope Circle (which I am finishing today) and I wanted a little more yellow fabric for the project that I'm making my secret partner in the SUTK swap but I left with this...


Yikes! Okay. Okay.It's really not as bad as it looks. Most of the cuts are only 1/2 yard cuts and I did get a couple of them at 50% off. All of them are earmarked for something, I swear. I'm not just stash building. But it did make me realize how much I am in love with Amy Butler's Midwest Modern line. It took everything in me not to buy up yards and yards of the entire line.

Fabrics from left to right: Amy Butler Midwest Modern Martini in Yellow, Lauren & Jessi Jung Hideaway Gingham Sun, Momo It's a Hoot Trees Marshmallow Banana, Momo It's a Hoot Eggs Banana, Amy Butler Midwest Modern Happy Dots Apricot

The gorgeous yellows are going into the project I am making my partner in the SUTK swap. I think they'll compliment the other fabrics I've already pulled from my stash very well. I'm really excited about this project.

Top Row Fabrics from left to right: (All are Amy Butler from her Midwest Modern line) Martini Lime, Happy Dots Yellow, Honeycomb Green, Martini Green, Honeycomb Ice, Garden Maze Green
Bottom Row Fabrics from left to right: Sandi Henderson Meadowsweet Chain Flower, Erin McMorris Park Slope Light and Dark Coral Flowers on Lime

The romantic greens I pulled for the pillow I'm making my secret partner for PTS5. It doesn't hurt that green is also my favorite color, so I might have gone a little overboard but they're so pretty!

Top Row Fabrics from left to right: Bella Summer Sky, Bella Costal, Kona Regatta, Kona Evening
Bottom Row Fabrics from left to right: Momo Just Wing It Trees in Water, Momo Just Wing It Stripe in Water, Keiki Tweet Tweet Trees Sky

Then I made the mistake of heading back to the solids. I have been planning to participate in my very first QAL hosted by the fabulous Natalie of Threaded Mess. She's just started a QAL base on her awesome new quilt pattern Marshmallow Brochette. This quilt is so super cute. Anyone want to join me? You can find the QAL here and her Flickr group here. It's not to late to join in. Her quilt is all solids but I thought I might mix it up a little. I've got some ideas. The tree fabric is for the back of the quilt but check out that subtle stripe-y fabric. Isn't it great?

Michael Miller Holiday Prints Joy

Lastly I did find one more true green on the sale rack and although it's technically a holiday fabric I think it doesn't scream "Christmas!" So there you have it. I confess I am a bad, bad girl but my intentions are good. Now it's time to create. Happy stitching my lovelies!