Wednesday, January 17, 2018

log cabin progress

Last week I pulled out my log cabin blocks with the hope that this would be the last time I pull out the stack of blocks before I have a completed quilt top. It didn't take much calculating to realize that would NOT be the case. I do love a good long term project though, and this is definitely one of them!
It takes awhile to re-acclimate to a project after a long time out, but I've settled back into this one quite nicely. I've been working on up to 20 blocks at a time, so progress is slow, but enjoyable.
I've been adding the finished blocks to the design wall as I make them. It's fun to watch it grow! I've been trying to use up some of my most precious scraps in this quilt, so I've got a lot of Denyse Schmidt fabrics, along with plenty of polka dots and some thirties thrown in for good measure. It's a fun combination. Of course there are a lot of random scraps in the mix, too. The more the merrier!
I've got 47/132 blocks complete. I'm going for a king size quilt. I'm about 35% done!

I'm using my log cabin measurements, which can be found here. The blocks will finish at 9" square.

Friday, January 12, 2018

scrap and stash projects

Welcome to finish it up Friday!
I've been working on this boxy pouch off and on over the past week or more. I broke up the steps (patchwork, quilting, assembly) over several days, which seemed to work out well. It was time consuming, but I love how it turned out!
I used this tutorial by Pink Stitches and I made the larger size. I was happy to use that pink strap for the handle, which was previously made for a purse, but then I decided not to use it after all. I hung on to it for several years, knowing that I would use it eventually. I'm extremely surprised that I was able to find it when I needed it! Ha!
I used a cheery spring green gingham from my stash for the lining.
I love that I was able to use up so many random scraps in this project! I pieced the patchwork as I did in my Scrap Vortex quilt along. (You can find the tutorial links at the bottom of this page.)
Remember my 101 scrap project challenge? I was looking back at some old blog posts the other day and realized that I fizzled out on that sometime last January. Since I was so close to completing my challenge for the second time, I decided that I needed to resume it. (We will just say that I took a nice long hiatus....ok?) All that to say, this is scrap project #194!

This next zip pouch was a much faster project....
I made this one for my daughter's friend as a belated Christmas gift. My daughter picked out the fabrics and I did the sewing. It looks perfect for a tween girl, doesn't it? (It's good to have some purple in the stash after all, I guess! Who knew? Ha!)
For the lining I used a stripe that compliments the exterior. I used my two color zip pouch pattern (available here), with a few modifications. I used one fabric for the exterior instead of two and I quilted the exterior panels onto a thin cotton batting before assembling the pouch. It adds a little bit of extra structure and texture.

I'm happy to report that my daughter's friend LOVES the pouch and uses it every day at school. Woohoo!

One more project from the stash to share....
I made these cloth napkins for my neighbor's son who just moved into his first house. He was hinting last summer that his mom needed to learn how to make some so he could have a set or two for when he moved to his new place. Well, I remembered that hint and was happy to sew them up for him. He was thrilled. What a great guy! :) I cut 18" squares and hemmed them up. Quick, easy and practical!
 
That's it for me today! Now it's your turn to link up your finishes for the week. Thanks so much for joining me for finish it up Friday! I hope you have a GREAT weekend!
 

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

WIP Wednesday

Over the past several days, I have been splitting my time between two big projects: quilting my arithmetic quilt and ripping down a wall paper border in my daughters room. Fun times! Both are hard on the arms, so it was wise to split up the tasks over several days.
This is my arithmetic quilt. (You can see a full photo of the quilt top here.) It's a twin size, so I'm pleased that I was able to quilt it (off and on) over a 5 day stretch. That's a pretty moderate pace! I went with a simple loop de loop all over for the quilting. Nothing fancy, just something to keep the layers together and add some lovely texture. It's kind of fun that the quilting shows up a lot more on some of the blocks and a lot less on the other blocks. I used Aurifil thread in the color 2600. It's a beautiful light gray thread that blends with almost everything.
Here's the wall paper that got it's eviction notice...finally! I'm guessing that it's from the 90's? It totally overstayed it's welcome. I'm so glad it's gone, gone, GONE. This project also took several days. I am mildly disturbed that I actually ENJOYED ripping it down. (How sick it that?) I am glad that it was just a border, though. That was plenty!

Now it's time to move on to binding (yay!) and painting. Progress is good!

Before I sign off for today, that you SO MUCH for all of your kind comments on Abby's Sunset quilt top. I appreciate each one! I hope you are having a fabulous week! xo

Friday, January 05, 2018

Abby's sunset-a completed quilt top

Welcome to finish it up Friday!

I'm so excited that I have a finished quilt top to share today. This one has been in progress for quite some time-at least it feels like it to me! (I looked back, and I started it in September. I guess it wasn't that long ago after all....)
This is a variation of my hot and cold quilt, which is from my book No Scrap Left Behind. I used the same colors and the same general idea of separating the warm and the cool colors....but the layout is completely different.
I know that I've mentioned it before, but I do pin at each and every intersection. Sewing the rows together takes longer because of it, but I get the best results this way, so I continue to pin. Besides, if I didn't use pins, all of my beloved pincushions would be quite useless. Hahaha!  
Much like the first version of the quilt, I laid out all 1,147 squares before sewing them together. For the first quilt I used my design wall. For this version I used a piece of batting to lay out all of the blocks, then I placed a vintage sheet on top of the patchwork and rolled it up when I wasn't working on it. This method worked very well, especially since it was in time out for a few months!
 
I enlisted my neighbor girl to help me photograph the quilt. We both bundled up and went to the local park for the photo shoot. It was quite chilly, but we waited until the temperature rose to zero degrees. I was the quilt holder and she took the photos. (I realized that I really need to strengthen my arm muscles!) She did a great job helping out. Thanks so much, Lizzie! 
I absolutely love the bright and vibrant colors in this quilt! I also love how it looks pixelated at a distance.
I have such a hard time naming quilts, but this quilt reminded me of the sun setting over the lake. A year or so ago, almost every evening, as the sun was going down, my daughter Abby would say, "Mom, look at the beautiful sunset." I love how she would take time to enjoy the beauty of God's creation rather than rushing through the day, as I am accustomed to doing. It's so inspiring. Now, it's become somewhat of a tradition for her and I to pause and enjoy the beautiful sunset together. I love that so much!
Each square was (individually!) cut at 2 1/2" and finishes at 2" square. The quilt top measures about 62" x 74" and it's 100% scraps! I kinda love it!!! :)

Now it's your turn! Please link up your finishes for the week. Thank you, as always, for joining me for finish it up Friday! Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

the start of my mark twain quilt

Last spring my family and I went on a spring break trip and I picked up this antique quilt for a song in Hannibal, Missouri. (I wrote a blog post about the quilt here, if you care to read more about it.) On that same trip, I bought a bunch of solid red orange fabric (Michael Miller cotton couture) that was an end of bolt sale. I didn't realize it at the time, but it's nearly the exact shade of the red orange fabric that was used in the quilt. So interesting!!!
I decided that I'm going to repair this quilt, but that wouldn't be enough, now, would it??? Nope! I decided that I want to make a replica of this quilt as well. I actually started making the hexagons for the connector blocks a few months ago, but this morning I finished my first block.
I'm using 30's reproduction fabrics and I'm taking my design queues from the vintage quilt. I will admit, I think this block is fairly ugly, (funky at best!) but I know that in the big scheme of things, it's going to be great! The hexagons in the original quilt measure 3/4" on each side, but I'm using 1" hexagons. I am English Paper Piecing it. (EPP for short.) 
One thing that I noticed in the old quilt is that the maker chose to turn the striped or directional fabric every which way. It adds a lot of interest and movement that the quilt wouldn't have otherwise. So, when I made my block, I followed suit. Normally, I would have laid out the pieces in the pink layer like this:
Since the original quilt has the prints going it all directions, I mixed them up. I like them every which way much better! It is so fun to study the details of the old quilt.

As far as the name of the quilt goes, it was also inspired by our trip to Hannibal. We were visiting for a few days and the town offers everything "Mark Twain" that you can imagine. (Books, book marks, pens, matchbooks, root beer, fried chicken...you name it, they had it! I even got a Mark Twain cut out while I was at the quilt shop. Hahaha!) We joked about "Mark Twain everything" the entire time we were there, so it is only fitting that I make a Mark Twain quilt to go along with it. Right?

It's going to be a long journey, but I'm excited about making this quilt!
 

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

hello 2018

Happy New Year! 2017 was a big year for me and my family in a lot of ways. It was a good one!

This photo collage is a representation of some of my most liked photos on Instagram in 2017.

Looking back:

The two big things....

My new book, No Scrap Left Behind, came out in February. I travelled a lot this year to promote my book, including visits to Georgia, Missouri, Indiana, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Florida. Plenty of stops in Minnesota, too. Many thanks to all of the guilds that invited me to speak and teach. I feel very lucky that I get to do this! Thank you to all of you who purchased a copy of the book. I appreciate it more than I can say!

My latest fabric line, Emma & Myrtle, came out in July! It's so fun to see what others are making from it. I don't think that will ever get old. (It looks like it's currently on sale, too!)

I had a few other highlights:

-In March I made it down to 4 WIPs!

-In July I did my one a day pincushion challenge for a second year in a row. I'm probably done with that challenge now, but it was fun to revisit it. I'm definitely NOT done making pincushions, though.

-In September I started a new series where I'm going to try to complete 10 quilts made from solid scraps. (I have yet to complete one, but I've got two quilt tops done and another few started.) I LOVE working in a series.

-I completed 14 quilts for the year. That's pretty low number for me....I think the last year that I completed that number of quilts was 2006. (I'm totally fine with that, though, because I'm not running out of quilts.) Out of those 14 quilts, 7 were scrap quilts and 7 were made from the stash or new yardage. It's interesting that it's split right down the middle. I'm quite surprised!

-I gave away at least 15 quilts last year. That felt great!

One goal that I did NOT make was to crochet a giant rag rug for my front entryway. I'm debating it now, because I think the puppies will just try to eat it anyway.

It was a big year for my family, too.

-My husband went back to school (while continuing to work full time) and finished his Associates Degree. Working full time and going to school is no joke. I'm proud of him for going back and finishing his degree after so many years.

-My husband and I celebrated our 20 year anniversary!

-We went on a spring break trip. My youngest started middle school. My younger son started high school. (How on earth?) My oldest son got his driver's license and his first job. We got two puppies! It was a BIG year!

Looking ahead:

Usually I have a whole laundry list of goals, but this year I really don't. (I'm trying not to freak out about it. Hahaha!) I plan to do more speaking and teaching this year. And as cliché as it sounds, I want work on reducing my stash this year. I want to sew MORE and sew for FUN! That's about it! Sounds sort of anti-climatic, but then again, it sounds really, really nice, doesn't it?

How about you? Do you make New Year's goals? If you do and you care to share, I'd love to hear about them.

Thank you so much for stopping by and reading my blog. I really appreciate it! Happy New Year to you and yours!

Friday, December 29, 2017

Maine socks and stash organization

Welcome to finish it up Friday!
This week I managed to finish another pair of socks! I bought this yarn in August when my husband and I went to Maine to celebrate our 20th anniversary. As much as I LOVE colorful socks, this black and white self-striping yarn caught my eye because it's so practical. These socks will match 90% of my closet. :) I'm pretty pleased with how well those stripes lines up. Not exactly perfect, but pretty darn close. Hurray!
 
This is my 23rd pair of hand knit socks that I've made to date. You can find the free pattern here.
 
The other BIG project this week was to organize my stash. It was in quite a state of disarray, so I spent quite a bit of time folding, organizing and rearranging. It felt AMAZING to get this all in order.
I've used the same folding technique for my stash for years and I can't recommend it enough. (See this post.) If the fabric is not large enough to wrap around a 6" ruler, it goes into the scrap bin. Having a consistent folding technique helps maintain the organization long term.
Lest you think that everything is perfectly perfect over here, this is was hanging out just out of the frame of the previous photo. (See? I AM a normal quilter and a real person. Hahahaha!)
I shuffled the piles a little farther out so I could get a decent picture of the whole corner. I have a bunch of scraps that I need to get in order next, but one step at a time....right? It feels good to have the stash neat and tidy, at least.
 
Ok, that's it for me today! Now it's your turn to link up your finishes. Thanks, as always for joining me for finish it up Friday!
 
 

Friday, December 22, 2017

a sew together bag for Emily

Welcome to finish it up Friday!

I'm happy to share another finish with you today! I made this sew together bag (pattern here) for my friend Emily as part of a Christmas swap between some good friends.
Emily likes gray, aqua and hexagons, so I combined all of those things in this little bag. I have to admit that this took a lot longer to make than I was anticipating, but she loves it, so it was totally worth it. The hexagons were English Paper Pieced, which means they were basted and then stitched together...all by hand. I did enjoy making the EPP panel and then using it for a bag exterior. I did not enjoy cutting through the hand stitches when I had to trim the panel down. That was nerve wracking! Thankfully I measured right the first time.
This is the second time that I finished the binding by hand on a sew together bag and I'm sold on the neat and tidy results.
If you are attempting to sew this bag, I would highly recommend adding zipper tabs (see this post) as a modification to the pattern. It makes sewing up the sides so much easier. As you can see, I enjoyed selecting a lot of different fabrics for the interior. I have plenty of aqua in the stash to choose from. Hurray!
This is my 7th sew together bag that I've made to date! I have one more to make before I put this pattern on hold again for awhile. They sure do make great gifts!
As a little extra for the swap package, I made Emily this little coffee ornament. You can find the free pattern here. I used coffee beans for a filling, so it has a wonderful coffee aroma. I thought that was pretty fun.
 
Well, that's it for me today! Do you have a finish to share? If so, please link up. Thank you for joining me for finish it up Friday! I hope you all have a Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

related WIPs and glamp stitchalot

This quilt was in time out for a few weeks/months (?) because I couldn't get the color break quite right. A few weeks ago I had a friend help me figure it out, so sewing has commenced. I'm pretty excited to see it come together! When sewing the rows together, I pin at each intersection, so it takes awhile. I decided that I'm going to enjoy the process rather than to rush through. (What a concept, right?) You can see an in-progress layout here, if you care to take a peek. This is 1/4 of the quilt top. I'll take any progress I can get. :)
When I was cutting out all 1000+ squares needed for the quilt above, I noticed I had a lot of fabric left that measured at least 2" x 2 1/2". So....I started cutting rectangles into that size. Initially I thought I would pair them with a white background, because that seems to be my default.
However, I decided to challenge myself to break out of my comfort zone and use a black background instead. I have a lot of black scraps in my scrap bin, so it seemed to make sense. I like how the colors POP against the black background. They seem to glow!
I've been using this as a leaders/enders project, which is another thing that is out of my comfort zone, but it's getting easier as I practice it. I'm excited to be putting these scraps to good use. Woohoo!

I wanted to share with you an exciting announcement today, too! On November 8-10, 2018, I will be one of four teachers that will be at Glamp Stitchalot, which is held in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I'll be teaching improv string piecing classes. You can find more details here. I'm super excited and I think it will be a lot of fun!

That's it for me today! I hope your week is off to a great start!

Friday, December 15, 2017

tea pouches

Welcome to finish it up Friday!

I have a small finish today, but it's a finish nonetheless! Considering this crazy time of year, I'll take it! :)
I made these handy fold-up pouches to give to a few of my friends that enjoy drinking tea. They were a fun little project and I can see several more in my sewing future. It's fun to mix and match different fabric combinations. Picking the fabric takes almost as long as sewing them up. I'm not complaining, though...I love playing with fabric!
The pattern is called Handy Fold-Up Pouch and it comes from the book Stitched Sewing Organizers by Aneela Hoey. It's a beautiful book filled with several practical projects that I would love to make someday.
Have you heard of the hot ruler? I used it when I was making this pouch and it's SO handy. My friend Tara gave me this gadget when I was expressing (complaining?) how hard it is to hem pants or dresses accurately. The ruler is heat resistant, so you measure, fold and press the fabric all in one step. It's SLICK! I've used it for hemming, but also for small projects like this.
This is in no way sponsored by Clover or anyone else, it's just a wonderful tool that might make a good gift for you or for a sewing friend. Or both! :)
Of course this pouch would make a super cute mini sewing kit, too! That's kind of what it was designed for. hahaha! I love that you can clip the wonder clips (another great tool!) on the band. I think I might try adding a snap on the flap and use that as an alternate closure. Wouldn't that be cute?

Alright! That's it for me today! I hope you have a finish that you can share. (I know that it's so hard this time of year, because there is a lot of secret sewing going on!) Please link up, and thanks, as always, for joining me for finish it up Friday! Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

a little of everything

I've been walking around my house singing "it's the MOST wonderful time of the year", but in a slightly sarcastic manner. I just can't seem to keep up! I know I'm not alone, but I still don't care for the ridiculous pace of early to mid December. This post is a little random, so please bear with me! :)
Thank you so much for the sweet comments on my gingham quilt! I had a few requests to see the pillows a little better, so here you go. I made pillowcases with Lotta dots in Coral, the chenille pillow shams were made from an old bedspread and the kindness pillow was finished earlier this year. I love the simplicity of the whole ensemble. It makes me smile every time I walk into my room! It's wonderful to have new bedding to brighten up the dreary winter days.

I've been working on a lot of different things this week...
I started knitting an origami top hat for a friend. I LOVE this shockingly pink yarn. It's been a great project to work on while I'm on the go.
This panel of hexies is part of a larger project that I will share more of soon. I estimated that it's taken me between 12 and 16 hours JUST to sew the hexagons together. Sometimes it's better NOT to count the hours. Hahaha! It did force me to just sit down for awhile, AND they are super cute, so it was totally worth it!
My neighbor ordered a pincushion to give as a gift, so I made one for her as well. I had a blast making these from my teeny tiny scraps.
And, I had to make an extra one, just for good measure. It felt so good to finish SOMETHING! Playing with scraps and finishing a few small projects was just the boost I needed to keep going.
 
I hope you are able to find a few moments in this busy time of year to breathe and enjoy the little things, too!

Friday, December 08, 2017

gingham quilt complete

Welcome to finish it up Friday!
Last Saturday evening I finished my gingham quilt!!!! I waited until I completed the coordinating pillowcases (all 6 of them!) to put the quilt on the bed. Otherwise I would procrastinate for at a least a year or two to actually sew them up. Ha! I put everything on my bed last night and I'm soooo pleased with how it all came together!
The quilt uses only 5 fabrics: White, Pink Flamingo and Pearl pink (all Konas) for the top. The binding (lotta dots in coral reef) and backing (apron in coral reef) fabrics are from Connecting Threads. That coral color is super hard to photograph, but trust me, it's really pretty!
It was pretty fun to back an entire quilt with my fabric. :) This is my largest quilt to date, finishing at about 108" x 102". I'm very happy that this quilt, which features the Kona color of the year, is actually finished before the year is over. Woohoo!

Now it's your turn! Please link up your finishes for the week. Thank you, as always, for joining me for finish it up Friday! Have a great weekend!