Monday, April 30, 2012

Kyoto Dresses


My To Do List keeps getting smaller and smaller. And let me tell you, it's a relief. It's still pretty hefty, but it's getting to the point where the items on the list read more like a "Wish List" than an "Obligation List". I just took on too many commitments for a while there, even though I promised myself I was going to stream line things. That's how projects like these dresses for my nieces got pushed back from holiday gifts to birthday gifts, now to "Surprise! Here's a random gift for just being you!" gifts. 


Around Thanksgiving (in November) I bought the super-cute Kyoko pattern (and several others) in a massive online clearance sale. I bought the coordinating fabrics for the dresses in a massive Thanksgiving fabric sale and I actually made some progress on their construction in the weeks between Thanksgiving and the holidays. And then things got in the way, namely work. Unfortunately they didn't get finished in time and then they got put on the back burner.



I finally dusted them off and got back to business on them last week. I don't know why it took me so long to finish them. This pattern is a dream. It's very easy, and super quick - especially if you choose not to line them. Yeah, I skipped that step too. Just making two at the same time was enough. Lining them would have been tantamount to making four and I just didn't have that in me when I started them. I did use my overlock foot to finish the seams, and let me tell you, I will never go back to zig zagging finishes. If you haven't discovered the wonders of your overlock stitch, dust off your foot and take it for a spin.




Oh! Aren't they adorable?! I can't wait to see my nieces in them! I only wish I had been able to finish them before I went up to see them the other week. Seriously, if you're looking for a cute and easy dress for a little girl I would definitely recommend the Kyoko. The most time consuming part of the construction is making and attaching the bias binding, but it adds such a fabulous finished look to the dresses. Now, it's time to knock a few more items off the list so I can get to work on some stuff just for me. And I've got more than a few items on that list, in fact, my husband has been asking for a new quilt for our living room. One large enough for us to cuddle under when we're sitting on the couch. I may have won him over to the dark side!

Friday, April 27, 2012

More Catch-Up


I have been sewing quite a bit lately. And I started teaching. My friend Nancy is pregnant and she's my first official student. She's been coming over everyday and working with me in my studio. I'm teaching her how to make a quilt and I'm working on my late bee blocks at the same time. 


I mentioned before that I have fallen way behind on my bee blocks lately. I don't have any excuse, really and it's not like me at all. Back in January, in the Sewn Together Bee, Sarah asked for (unfinished) Mod Mosaic Blocks using this tutorial. In my defense on this one Sarah admittedly sent out her fabrics late and she said she wasn't on a deadline so we could take our time on them, so I let some other projects with higher priority take precedent. She sent along a variety of colorful scraps and pre-cut white strips so they came together easily. They're fun, simple blocks but mine did take a little time to come together because I'm a stickler for ironing my seams. 



Again in the Sewn Together Bee, this time for March, I attacked Melissa's Quilt-As-You-Go Blocks. She referred us to this tutorial for these blocks. I used a different technique the last time I tried quilt-as-you-go blocks, so I'm always up for trying something new. Her only guideline was two log cabin style, slightly wonky with one that goes from light to dark and the other, the opposite. These were super easy and came together really quickly. I like the idea of quilt-as-you-go because it cuts down on the bulk one deals with when quilting an entire quilt on their home machine, but I really want to see more of these come together before I consider making an entire quilt this way. 




Finally, while Nancy was plugging along with piecing her blocks, I finished up my March block for the Sew Fun Bee. The fabric for this block actually didn't arrive on my doorstep until two weeks ago. It was lost in the mail and I was freaking out, trying to think about ways to help Becky. I ended up having a fat quarter of one of the prints from this line in my stash, but thankfully the package finally arrived, already pre-cut, so I was able to bang this one out quickly. This block was so simple that I felt like I was cheating and needed to do more. Seriously, I think it came together in five minutes tops!


So, I'm getting there. I still have one more block for February and another for March left to finish so I can focus on April - which is almost gone already! Ugh. I'm almost there folks. Thanks for bearing with me!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

I've Been Tagged

I didn't mean to be away again for almost a week. So sorry folks! I ended up taking a last minute trip up north to see my family for my niece's birthday. I have been sewing a lot though, so soon I'll have some finishes to show. There's also a lot of other little stuff going on around here. The biggest news is that I finally registered my own domain name! Yippee! You should all be automatically re-directed to my new domain but in case you're not you can now find me at (just lose the blogspot). I'm also gearing up for another giveaway very, very soon to celebrate a few milestones, so get ready for that!

And finally, I got "Tagged"! Jill recently tagged me in a blog game I've been seeing around lately in an effort to get to know your fellow bloggers better. I was happy to be included. Jill answered eight questions posed by another blogger and then tagged a few of us and asked her own set of eight questions. I love playing games and getting to know people better so here are my answers to Jill's questions...

1. When did you start quilting?
I started sewing at a very early age and always wanted to learn how to quilt when I was growing up but never did. I saw a quilting class offered at a local craft store, just over two years ago, and I decided to sign up. Little did I know that the class was taught by the amazing Alissa Haight Carlton who turned me on to the amazing world of the quilting blogosphere and it was all downhill from there.

2. What inspires you to quilt?
I really get inspired by architecture, design elements and nature. I'm always snapping pictures of different things that turn me on and I want to replicate in my quilting. I think of quilting as functional art. I love clean lines and the modern aesthetic as well as curves and improvisational piecing. I find inspiration is everywhere I just don't have the time to make it all.


3. Do you plan your quilts ahead of time or just think as you go?
I do both. As I mentioned in the previous answer, I often take snapshots of details in everyday life that inspire me artistically. I also keep a journal to jot down ideas that come into my head or to plan out specific designs. That said, I also really love to work improvisation-ally. There is something so exciting about not knowing where you're going and just letting the creativity flow and seeing where you end up. It all depends on the project.

4. Where do you sew?
I am finally back in my studio space! Yea! (Doing the Happy Dance over here!) While I was in South America my husband got the electrical working out there again so I moved back. Before that I set up shop in our dining room, which was starting to irk the hubs, understandably so. My studio space is actually our detached (finished) garage. We've been using it as a storage space since we don't park a car in there. I finally got around to cleaning it out and getting it organized. It's not 100% there yet, but it's functional enough for me to work in there full time. 


5. What fabric do you dream about? (whether you own it or not!)
Well, my two all time favorite lines are City Weekend by Oliver + S and Kitty Yoshida's Brooklyn Heights in the Carbon colorway. I was early enough to jump on board and get the entire City Weekend line. It's still sitting in my stash but I have plans for it that I recently hatched. Unfortunately, I missed the boat on the Brooklyn Heights and, while I was able to snag a little of the line in a different colorway, I missed out on the Carbon. BUT I did have an amazing swap partner who sent me some fat quarters in Carbon in the MMM Swap. It's tucked away for safe keeping until I can find more or figure out exactly which special project it deserves.

6. Do you sew more often for yourself or others?
I definitely sew more for others. I rarely sew for myself and when I do those projects usually get thrown on the back burner in favor of the projects I make for others. A majority of my sewing is also for charity. It's something I'm very passionate about for sure. 

7. What's your favorite dream holiday / vacation?
If you know anything about me then you know that my first passion is travel. I don't think there is any place on this planet that I don't want to see. I know I can't see it all but I'm not going down without a fight! As for a dream trip, Marc and I keep discussing taking six months to a year off, renting out our house, buying a used Land Rover and driving the African continent from Capetown to Cairo. It will happen... someday.

8. What's your favorite flavor of ice cream?
I don't have a sweet tooth. I'm a salty / savory person but I DO love ice cream, so this is a hard question. Do I really have to pick just one? Well, I can't. I love Strawberry. In fact, we've perfected the art of making Strawberry ice cream here at our house in the summers. And nothing beats good, old fashioned French Vanilla. But I hate Chocolate ice cream. Weird, I know. I also love, love, love the new trend of savory ice cream flavors like bacon, lavender or salted caramel. Everything is better with salt. 

So now it's my turn...

Natalie of Threaded Mess
Flaun from I Plead Quilty!

And here are your questions ladies... (And I want the whys on these too!)

1) What is your favorite sewing tool?
2) What is your least favorite thing about quilting / sewing?
3) What is your dream project?
4) Which project has been the most challenging for you and did you complete it?
5) What skill would you most like to improve / learn?
6) It's your last day on Earth. What's your final meal?
7) Where is your favorite place that you've ever visited?
8) Who (or what) is your greatest inspiration?

Tag! You're it!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Picnic In The Park

EEK! I can finally show you one of the super special, super secret projects that I've been working on "undercover" for the past couple months. Back in January my friend Melissa mentioned that she was looking for a few cross stitchers to help her out on a project. I love to cross stitch in my free time so I volunteered to help her out.


And I am so excited to announce that TODAY she's releasing her awesome pattern! Run, don't walk over to Melissa's gorgeous blog, Lilac Lane. If you're not already one of her regular readers, you should be. She's amazing, super sweet, so creative and has so many amazing patterns available on her site. I am more than honored to be one of her featured stitchers on her latest pattern "Picnic In The Park".

photo 1

I showed a couple sneak peeks of the super cute bike I stitched for her (mine is the green one in top left I think) while I was working on it. I always love to have some hand stitching with me when I'm traveling especially. And this super cute bike was the perfect travel companion. Additionally Melissa's cross stitch pattern was so easy to read. What I really, really love about this pattern is the clever way Melissa incorporated cross stitch into a quilt. How cool is that? We cross stitched the bikes onto linen, rather than regular ol' cross weave Aida, which made them super quilt friendly.


But I have to say I sweated this one out. She needed our bikes back by the end of March so she could make the quilt and shoot it in time for the pattern release. I was done with the bike and working on the flowers when I decided I was going o South America in the middle of March, so I needed to have t done and sent off before I left - sooner than I anticipated. I had all my time planned out to finish on time, and then life throws you curve balls and I found myself, the night before I was leaving for Argentina, with a few more flowers to fill. So I woke up at 3 am (I can sleep on the plane) to work through the wee hours of the morning to finish it. A snag here, a fantasy baseball draft at our house there and two flowers to fill in, I still wasn't finished when my taxi arrived. So I brought an envelope with plenty of extra postage on it (I hoped) and hopped on the plane, intending to drop it in the mailbox when I landed in Washington DC.

photo 3

I finished it up on the plane with plenty of time to spare (although I forgot my black thread so I couldn't fill in the spokes) unfortunately my plane was late and left me with only 20 minutes to make my connection to Buenos Aires. I just want to send a super huge shout out "Thank You" to the man sitting next to me (eying my stitching with such curiosity) he was my savior. Not only did he tell the people in front of us to let me off first because of my connection, he even took my package for me and mailed it to Melissa and she got it! I will always owe him a debt of gratitude.


Oh my, I love this pattern so much. I think Melissa is so super talented and you all should go check out her amazing work right now!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Patty's Round Robin Quilt


As most of you know, a lot of my quilting is for charity. In October, at the end of our year-long cycle, it looked like one of my charity bees, A Dozen Quilters, might be disbanding. Then Jenny had a great idea: how about we do a round robin. I didn't have much luck with my first round robin last year, but I wasn't going to let that phase me. And I did end up getting my quilt center back (just in time too) so I, of course, said yes. I even ended up using the quilt center from my first round robin in this one so that quilt can be what it was intended... a charity round robin quilt.


This month I worked on Patty's quilt center. Christy added the first round and then sent it to me. I added the second round. I loved Christy's addition and didn't want it to get too busy so I kept with the Red, White and Blue theme and added 4" strips of varying widths all around the perimeter. This is going to be a cute summer-y quilt, dontcha think?


It's now safely off to Jenny for her turn. This is so fun! You can check out the ongoing progress of all the charity quilts at our group blog found here.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Do. Good Stitches February Blocks


Even more catch up. I don't know why I'm so behind on bee blocks this year, but thankfully I'm almost caught up. Way back in February Kat asked us to make two blocks with a take on the stashbuster. She wanted 1" squares in the middle (4x4, 5x5, 6x6... you get it) and one to be sashed in white while the other should be sashed in another solid, preferably a bright color for a girl.



One of our other bee members, my good friend Natalie, recently announced some very exciting news, but that also meant bed rest and no sewing so I pitched in to make her two blocks as well.



I had some pre-cuts of Central Park lying around thanks to a swap partner and I thought they would make for a very cheery block. I also found some bright tangerine kona in my stash for the sashing.



These blocks are so simple and straightforward and easy. It's also a great way to use up your scraps. Everything looks good when you're working tiny. That's two 1" piece requests for February. I'm sensing a theme.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Sew Fun February Blocks


I'm still playing more catch up, and I fear I will be for a little while. Again in the new Sew Fun Bee I had my February blocks way overdue. I think part of my hang up here was my lack of browns and blues in my stash. I think I need to work on that. I ended up pulling out my massive scrap bin and dumping it on the floor to find just the right fabrics for these blocks.


Dustin asked us to make four traditional Log Cabin blocks for him. He wanted the center and each of the surrounding logs to be cut to 1" - meaning tiny strips. I love working with tiny pieces so this was right up my alley. Each block should end up around 6.5" unfinished.



The coolest thing about these blocks is the way he wanted us to play with color. Dustin asked for two brown blocks, one brown / blue and one brown / black or gray but he wanted us to set the contrasting colors on the diagonal. I'll admit I was a little confused by what he wanted from the brown on brown block, but another member of our group posted hers with a contrasting dark brown / light brown or cream combo and Dustin commented that they were perfect so I followed suit.


They actually finish over 6.5" but I wanted to give Dustin a little more to play with just in case. They were a lot of fun and my iron got a workout making these. Hope you like them Dustin!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Sew Fun January Blocks


I'm back my lovelies! Thank you for all the well wishes on my Redirected Quilt. Now that I'm back in town I'll be responding to all your comments. It was hard to come home but I had an amazing time. You can read all about my South American adventure on my other blog. But now it's all about playing a little catch up. My husband got the electricity fixed in my studio while I was away but now the place is a bit of a mess again since they had to move stuff around to access the wiring. There are a few other small projects in there we need to complete this week before I put it all back together again, so I'm back to sewing in the dining room temporarily.



I joined a couple new bees this year and I am embarrassed to say, I fell way behind in the first one. Way back in January, Krista asked us to make her a tree. That was exciting. I thought this would be such a cool block and I was actually really excited about it. On my holiday road trip in December I started taking pictures of cool trees I would see on my hikes trying to gather ideas. Back at home, I started thinking about more options for trees. I wanted to create something unique, different and me. I guess I suffered from too much inspiration on this one because I started this block a couple times and then scrapped it because it didn't feel right. Suddenly I was behind. Then I was really behind. Now, returning from almost a month in South America I found myself incredibly behind.


Once I got home, I decided to return to one of my initial ideas of making Krista some birch trees. I started by improv piecing the trunks, and suddenly things started to flow. I used primarily solids with a couple light neutral prints thrown in for the bark. I couldn't help but have Jaqui's quilt in mind while I was working. But when it came to the leaves I was a little at a loss. I did consider just leaving them bare because I love the simplicity but then I wasn't sure they would really be the trees Krista wanted. I debated about how to top them and finally decided to cut 1" squares out of a variety of green fabrics and just lightly tacked them down to create texture and flow in the leaves.


Krista had one other request. She wanted us to sign our blocks somewhere on the front so she could remember who made each block when she looked at the finished quilt. She's planning to hang it in her living room. I was inspired by tree carving graffiti and ended up "etching" my name into one of the trunks with needle and thread. I really hope Krista likes this block, and I am so sorry it is so incredibly late. Ugh. Oh the pressure of getting caught up. A few more blocks to go and I will be all caught up.