Friday, April 26, 2013

Sam's Quilt

Sam's quilt is all finished and ready to be sent off to the adorable new baby boy!  A few days ago I drove to a quilt shop about 30 minutes north of me and quilted it on their longarm- so fun!  But a lot more work than I anticipated.  I never really thought about how you actually get the quilt onto the frame (pinning, it turns out) and I never considered that you would still have to baste it (just the edges and you do it with the longarm, but still never realized you had to do it).  I quilted it using a pattern- I had planned to custom quilt it a la Angela Walters and was all prepared with the sketches but when I showed the girl at the shop she - in a nice, round about way - told me I was a bit ambitious with that for my first go.  I realized she was probably right and decided to use a pattern.  It was also a more open design and therefore probably softer than my custom quilting would have been.  Better for baby.

I thought it might be easier for you to see the quilting on the back, but it looks like it isn't really coming across in the photo.  Sorry.  For anyone who saw my first post about this quilt, yes, the backing is slightly different.  I took out the dark green elephant print that was the vertical stripe and replaced it with this lighter print.  I figured it would hide any messy quilting stitches better than the dark fabric (especially with the light thread color).

Another "first" accomplished on this quilt was my first quilt label- also way more work than I expected.  I played around with different wording for the label, then different colors, different fonts, different stabilizers...  Finally I had the label and had to figure out how to attach it.  I managed to sew WonderUnder onto the front, put a slit in it and turn the label but it took a few tries.  Fyi, WonderUnder tears very easy it turns out.  Once I had it ironed on I wanted a cleaner edge so I grabbed some embroidery floss and attempted my first blanket stitch. 

My final "first" on this quilt- giving it away!  I have never given a quilt to anyone outside my family before (and by "give" I mean my mom is the only one who has ever taken one of my quilts from me).  Usually I am very protective and I want to keep the stuff I make- only child syndrome aka "its mine and you can't have it".  But I am SO excited to send this off to Angie and baby Sam!! Angie appreciates handmade items so it definitely helps to know that it will be so used and loved in her home. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


I went to one of my favorite quilt shops last week to find a fabric to bind Sam's quilt - Sam is one week old today!  I was so excited to find this stripe as it matched the fabric perfectly, I couldn't believe my luck!  Then I got home and was ironing and realized it should match perfectly- it is from the same line....

Friday, April 19, 2013

Easter Basket Refashion

What do you do when you are having a Spring wedding and the florist wants to charge you $25 each for baskets for your flower girls?  Hit the Easter clearance sale at Joanns of course!  Some fabric, some ribbon, and an hour with my machine and I had two cute baskets for $15 total.
I took the lining out of one of the baskets to make a pattern. 
And grabbed my new favorite sewing notion- my Clover Wonder Clips- to assist me in holding the sides and bottom together.  Thank you to those that talked me into them :)  They were much easier to use than pins.  Also, why can I sew a circle like this with no problem, but Applecore and Drunkard's Path blocks intimidate me?  Isn't it essentially the same skill?  Sewing a curve?  ...

I used ribbon as an accent on the liners (just for fun, not because I forgot to make a casing or anything....)  I'm so happy with how these little baskets turned out.  Much cheaper than the ones from the florist and I got to play in my sewing room- win win!  A before pic of the basket can be found on the previous post here, if anyone is curious.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Take Three...

(I swear this quilt top is straight, I stuck it up on my design wall for the photo and the batting on my wall did not reach the bottom of the quilt, making it look funny at the bottom)

Started and finished a quilt top in the last two days! This quilt could be named any number of things- Take Three, Third Time's (hopefully) a Charm, Mom Better Stick With These Colors...

A few months back I ordered a bunch of Tula Pink's Saltwater Collection fabric to make some quilts to match my mom's newly redecorated living room.  I was quilting the first quilt and had the top to a second completed when she decided to redecorate again (third time in 6 months) and use different colors.  So, of course, she requested a new quilt.  Earlier this week I decided to finally cut into these new fabrics and get to work- I had been putting it off for a few months to make sure these colors stuck around.

The main print is from a shower curtain and a fairly big pattern so I brought out the Accuquilt and the 6 1/2" tumbler die so I could keep a good portion of the print.

I played around with a few layout from stripes to random to...

bunting!  I loved the bunting but worried that it might be more my taste than my moms.  I did toy around with making a double sided quilt with bunting on one side and the random tumbler layout on the other, but I wanted the sandy color fabric to be the background of the bunting and I did not have enough of it to make a decent size quilt and still have enough left over for tumblers in this print on the opposite side. 

In the end I decide to go with the random tumblers.  Also, I love my sewing room but my design wall is only about 4'x4', had to move out to the living room and my design floor to layout this quilt.

Does anyone else ever have this problem?  I thought the accu in Accuquilt stood for accurate... yet somehow using this machine and sewing with a 1/4" seam I still end up with points that don't match up.  Perhaps the problem is my laziness eagerness to get to work and therefore lack of ironing my fabric before using the Accuquilt.  I guess those few little extra bits in a wrinkle can add up.  Also, I prefer making blocks to making rows- blocks seem to match up better for me, rows always get off on the ends.

Linking up to Finish It Up Friday over at crazymomquilts.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Teacher Tote

As a kid I have fond memories of working on a class gift for my teacher.  The roommom would come in and we would get pulled one by one out into the hallway to work on something special to give our teacher for Christmas or at the end of the year.  So I was shocked this past Christmas to find out that the school I volunteer at does not have roommoms (I help out in one of the kindergarten classrooms, and no I do not have kids yet, my neighbor got me involved at the school and I am loving helping out with the little kids).  I don't know if this is a sign of the times or just a sign of the area we live in, but I decided right then and there that I would help the kids make an end of the year gift for their teacher.

The teacher's favorite animals are sheep and goats, and since I can't draw a goat I decided to do something with sheep :)  I sketched out this little guy and used it to make a template.

Helpful hint- if you don't have any card stock lying around, a file folder works too :)

I used white fleece for the sheep's fur and black cotton for the face.  As you might have noticed, I did not make feet for the sheep.  I wanted the kids to be able to personalize their sheep a little so I bought some fabric paint and decided to let the kids make their fingerprints into the sheeps' feet.

Here is the example I made.  I used my pointer finger to make the feet, I figured that was closer in size to a kindergartners thumb :)  I had bought a fabric marker and was going to have the kids write their name on their sheep, but when I tried the marker mixed with the fleece just didn't work out and there was no way the kids could have written anything even halfway legible on such a small piece of fabric (I couldn't even do it).  Embroidery machine to the rescue!  I kind of like it better since it will look more uniform, but I would have liked the kids to be able to write their name- its so cute at that age with backward letters and such.  Instead I think I am going to have them write their names on a piece of white paper for me with a black marker and I am going to see if I can create some fabric on Spoonflower with their names- I think it would be a cute lining to the bag.  Oh, yes!  This is going to turn into a tote bag, I probably should have mentioned that.

(please excuse the icky cutting mat, basting spray+a cheap Walmart cutting mat + 4 years= ickiness)

See, there is my little sketch.  I love it!  I really (really, really!) hope it turns out as well in reality as it does in my head!  Very possible I will be more excited to give this to the teacher than the kids are.  I will make an excellent roommom one day (or certainly an enthusiastic one :) 

Monday, April 8, 2013

Rag Wreath (tutorial)

Easter is over and therefore my Easter tutu wreath needed to come off the door.  I have a board on Pinterest of wreath ideas and decided that a rag wreath would be my next project.  I pulled out bunches and bunches of fabric scraps with the plan to make a pink/purple/green/yellow/orange/summer-y wreath but as I looked at my fabrics my plans changed.  I spotted a stacks of nautical fabrics instead- red, white, blue, navy, gray, perfect for summer and for the patriotic holidays during this time of the year as well. 

I started by cutting my fabric strips into 4"x1" strips (mostly because my fabric was already cut into 4" blocks).  Sorry, no photos of this part, but I'm sure you can manage it without photos :)

I grabbed two strips and made an X, then put a pin in the middle.

Insert the pin into a foam wreath form and push it into the form- it will help the fabric stand up a bit.  Also, on my last wreath I cut my wreath form in half to get two for the price of one- don't do that with this wreath (unless you have very short pins).  My pins were poking out the back of my half-a-wreath-form so I had to run out and buy a new form.

I thought I would just work my way systematically around the wreath, but after a few fabric strips I realized the error of my ways.  Not only was I worried about the fabric patterns not being evenly distributed, but it was hard to tell if I had too many pieced of fabric in one area or not enough.

I decided instead to insert a set of fabric strips and then turn the wreath a few degrees before inserting the next set.  This method worked much better. (note: my original section is still in the photo above, but I did take it out and redo it).

Working my way around

Starting to get full now!

Perfect (except for being a slightly blurry pic). 

Ahh, that's better.  Much less blurry and shows the colors much more accurately.  This wreath also is a nice contrast with my cream door, my Easter one did not stand out as much as I would have liked.  (and for those that are curious, the magnet on the door says "in case of emergency, please save our 2 cats" - made it on Shutterfly a few years ago).

I have no idea how this wreath will hold up in the Florida sun and humidity, but I am hoping for the best (there is a glass door in front of this door, so that should help).  All of the fabric was scraps, so if it evens up getting yucky I can toss it without feeling too guilty (though lets be honest, tossing any fabric no matter the condition it is in will make me feel a little guilty).

Linking up to QuiltStory.  Also- eeekkkk!!!  Just looked at QuiltStory and they featured my patchwork pillow from last week!!!  Day = MADE!  AND it was featured in the same post as a feature from SewSara- a blog I have been reading for years! Oh my gosh, oh my gosh!!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Cute, Fun, and DONE!

My twister quilt (started two months ago, almost to the day) is finally finished!  I'm actually a little embarrassed to admit that this little quilt took so long.  For some reason I have been super distracted in the last few months- wonder if getting sick twice, going on a few vacations, and planning a wedding... had something to do with it :)

I tried something a little different on this quilt and decided to try machine stitching my binding on (thank you to redpepperquilts for the tutorial!).  I can't say I am in love with this method- yet.  I feel like it took me just as long as if I had stitched it on by hand- but the fact that I actually had another binding fabric on and then took it off and started all over again may have had something to do with that :)  I thought I wanted something bright and colorful, but in the end the gray with white spots added just the right frame- subtle enough to let the pinwheels stand out but enough contrast from the border to frame the quilt nicely. 

For the most part I managed to catch the binding on the back while stitching in the ditch on the front, but there were four small spots I had missed and needed to go back over.  Not too bad for a first attempt though.  I think the key is definitely a good pressing and good pinning.... I might have slacked on that last one.  I hate pins.  I used binding clips, but the metal ones that look like hair barrettes.  I haven't pulled the plug and bought the Clover Wonder Clips yet- they are so expensive!  Are they really so great that they are worth the price? 

While I was washing the quilt I decided to toss my pillow cover in too.... turns out my sergered seams did not hold up as well as I expected :(

*Sad*  Hoping it is just a case of user error.  My guess is I did not catch enough of the fabric in the seam- not an uncommon problem for me.  Will try again- still love my serger, just have to learn how to use it, perhaps I will actually read the manual :)

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Nauti Tees

I found a great website the other day full of embroidery designs- and when I created an account they immediately sent me a 50% coupon!  I purchased a few designs (ok, maybe a few more than a few :) and two cheap mens tees from Walmart and transformed them into these cute beachy tees!  Perfect for this Florida Belle.
First up to transition the tees from cheap to chic- a little nautical monogram.  Yes, that is right, monogram- those nautical flags spell out AJG!  (I can't take credit for this brilliant idea- I saw it on a friends Etsy site, Sweet Tea Monograms). 
Also it is important to note here, do not trust everything you see on Pinterest!  It is a little hard to tell in the photo but on the white tee the first flag and the middle stripe in the second flag did not stitch up very well.  There are skipped stitches and I was so bummed.  I had seen a pin that suggested putting wax paper between a tee and the needle of the machine- supposedly it prevents the fabric from bunching, but it turns out a good sew on stabilizer does the same thing and keeps the stitches much nicer.  Once I pulled the paper away I got much better results.

Here is a shot of the front of the navy tee (with the backwards monogram thanks to my mirror :)

And a little something to really cute-sy up the tees - tiny little embroideries on the back!
And the back, with my messy hair and all. Yeah, can't believe I am posting this pic either. Also, have you ever tried to take a photo of your own back? Not easy to do.
I LOVE the way these tees turned out.  They are perfect to run around town in - comfy and cute, an unbeatable combination in my book.  I also like the way the designs stitched up (without the wax paper :) - you never can be too sure when you order online. 
And to the lady at the Singer shop in Dallas who told me it was "impossible" to embroider a dense design onto a tee without puckering like crazy - HA!  I did it! Score one for Brother machines over Singer!  Or at least, score one for good stabilizer and a girl smart enough to use it :)

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

A New Brother

Ok, first off, a few things you should know about me.  I am an only child and I can be a little single minded in my focus.  When I decide I want (or rather, when I convince myself I "need" :) something, I want it right then and there.  For example, decided I wanted an iPad at 3:00 in the afternoon (while I was a at work) bought it at 5 that evening as soon as I left work.  So actually the fact that I waited about a week and a half before pulling the plug and ordering a serger is a big step for me- I'm growing up!
All of that said, my new Brother arrived last Friday!  So exciting!  Prior to unpacking this and plugging it in- I had never used a serger.  Never played with one.  Never talked to anyone in a store about them.  Read an article or two online (actually, I think it was just one article and it tried to talk me out of one- that didn't work too well :) and read the reviews on Amazon.  That's it.  So my method for choosing this particular serger was very scientific- #1. typed in "easy to thread serger" in the search box.  #2. Found a Brother model at a good price with good reviews.  #3. told myself "happy birthday" and ordered it :)
I was so happy when it arrived just two days later!  The fiancee may have gotten a photo of the box and an email with many exclamation marks (if you haven't figured out yet, exclamation marks are another thing I like :)

It came prethreaded which was awesome!  Not only that, but each of the tension wheels for the different threads is a different color, when they threaded it they used the corresponding colors so it was easy to see which thread ended up in which spot.

Before taking it all apart to rethread (crazy me did not want multi colored seams :) I took photos.  I am a very visual learner and figured it was insurance in case I couldn't follow the instructions to rethread it, at least I would have photos to look back at.  In the end my fears were unfounded as it was so easy to thread!  Got it all the first time with no problems. 

Ok, a little hard to see here, but this is the multi color seam (and also the very first thing I ever sewed on a serger!  sewed on a serger?  or serged on a serger? Hmm..).  I ran a piece of fabric through to test it before I rethreaded it.  That way I would know what the seam should look like and would know if I did it wrong when I rethreaded it. 

And here is my pretty all white seam with thread threaded by me!  (sidenote: "thread threaded" so weird when words are nouns and verbs and then get used together).

In all her glory with her pretty white thread!  Also, note the lovely teal washi tape labels I added, lol.  I knew in my OCDness I would want to thread these in order from left to right but apparently that is not the correct way to thread a serger.  If I didn't label the order, I knew I would screw it up every time.  Washi tape to the rescue!

The Brothers side by side.  The serger makes my sewing/embroidery machine look so tiny!  In all fairness though, the sewing machine sits down in the table so there are another few inches under there. 

So far I absolutely LOVE my serger!  For lack of a better, more grown-up word- it is so COOL!  I used it on a pillow as I noted in a prior post, but I'm thinking it will be good for tote bags too- it always seems like it would be beneficial to have a reinforced seam on a bag.  Am I the only one who does not trust a regular seam on a tote?  And if I never decide to go that route, it will of course be good for clothes.  The instruction manual talks about all the different stitches the serger can do, but I haven't attempted any thing fancy yet.  I haven't even changed the foot on the machine.  One step at a time.  I'm still basking in my glory from threading it :)