Sunday, April 24, 2016

A Girly Tote

A short time ago my husband and I were visiting with a friend - she was telling us about an upcoming summer trip to the beach with her little granddaughters. My friend has seen some of the bags I've made in the past and asked if I'd be able to make bags for her granddaughters to take to the beach - you know, for collecting sea shells and other little treasures. I do enjoy making bags and the opportunity to sew with sweet little girl fabrics was very appealing to me :o)

Drawstring Tote
Lunch Bag pattern by Ayumi of Pink Penguin

Searching for a pattern is half the fun and I knew for certain I'd found what I was looking for when I happened upon the Lunch Bag by Ayumi of Pink Penguin. Ayumi wrote the tutorial for this bag back in 2010 so it's been out for several years now. Even though the pattern is called a lunch bag I think it makes a perfect tote for small children! The sweet drawstring top will help to protect the contents.

I was determined to use fabric from my stash and had a good time pulling options. I did feel like most of my fabrics have more of an adult-type of pattern on them so it took a couple days for me to find a mix I felt looked right for a child. I think these pink/coral fabrics fit the bill  :o)

I followed Ayumi's tutorial as written except that I made the outer bag body from one large piece of fabric instead of sewing two halves together. I do wish I'd thought to make the straps a bit longer - more like tote bag straps. However, this handle style will work just fine for small children. To give the bag structure I used fusible fleece on both the body of the bag and the handles.

Drawstring Tote
How fun to sew from my fabric stash!

I have a fun mix of pink and green fabric pulled for the second bag and can't wait to get started! More pictures to follow :o)

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Surprises along the way

Every once in awhile isn't it fun how something totally unexpected happens? Just a fun little surprise out of the blue. Back on March 2nd I received an email from Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks that one of my block submissions had been accepted for publication in the upcoming Volume 13 issue.

Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks, Vol. 13

This email caught me off guard because I actually just mailed off a block for consideration in Vol. 14, but I had missed the earlier Vol. 13 submission window. I thought, "Wow! How fun that they accepted my block and moved it up to an earlier issue." This news caused me to very quickly design and send in yet another block that would hopefully be included in Vol. 14 which comes out in the fall.

Yesterday I came home from school (teacher, not student) and found the package of magazine issues Quiltmaker's generously sends to each block designer. I quickly started paging through the issue looking for my block. Boy-oh-boy was I surprised when I found it! I can't wait to share with you what I discovered! You'll have to join me on Monday, May 2 (kick-off day for the blog hop!) to find out :o)

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Planning to use the precious

Precious: (of an object, substance, or resource) of great value; not to be wasted or treated carelessly. Google definitions.

Almost any quilter you talk to will admit to having some precious fabric in their stash...fabric they like so much that for some reason holding on to it makes more sense than using it. I, myself, have five collections of fabric that most probably fall into this classification: 
I'm excited to have a project I can't wait to get started on which will use my Kate Spain In From the Cold Christmas fabrics! Here are the fabrics I have from this line:

In From the Cold by Kate Spain

On the Moda Website is a collection of patterns for placemats, a table runner, and a gift bag featuring this sweet fabric line. I'm going to use the patterns for the little mugs of steaming beverages to make placemats of my own design, coasters, and possibly napkins to use for an upcoming bridal shower gift.

I can use other fabrics from my stash to round out the assortment. Here are some fabrics I pulled that I think will work:

Fabrics pulled from my stash

Wow it feels good to plan on using some of my precious fabric! I can't wait to get started...stand by for cute pictures :o)

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Knitting ~ A new adventure

Knitting was something I never thought I'd take up; for some reason it just never really interested me. My mom was the knitter - I am a crocheter. It seemed to me that knitting was something that took one eons to build any skill at...and there was that dreaded dropped stitch...a problem you didn't have to deal with in crochet.

Knit dishcloths
Simple knit dishcloths

Every once-in-awhile I'd see a lovely something knit by a friend and think to myself that maybe it was time to give it a try. The thought never really lasted for long. About two years ago I purchased Simple Knitting: A Complete How-to-Knit Workshop, by Erika Knight when I had a great Joann Fabric coupon. It sat in my sewing room pretty much untouched.

Two things made me jump on the knitting bandwagon. 1) The older I get the more my body stresses out when asked to do repetitive motions. It is becoming harder to crochet for long periods of time for weeks on end. 2) As we prepare to move I am making a serious attempt to clear out "stuff" and my yarn drawer was in need of a good purge. Over the years I'd amassed several balls of Sugar & Cream / Peaches & Cream cotton yarn. I've learned from past experience that I do not like to crochet with this cotton yarn and wondered how it would be to knit with it.

Knit dishcloths
Colorful knit dishcloths

Small, colorful dishcloths seemed to be a great jumping in project! I can honestly say I am enjoying my foray into the knitting world, although I'm not sure just how elaborate I'll attempt to develop my skills. Each of these dishcloths allowed me to learn a different stitch, or practice a combination. The patterns are very beginner friendly. If you'd like to give them a try here's the details clockwise from top left:

Knitting needles
Knitting needles I found in my supplies

At some point in time my mom must have taught me a little knitting because when I was attempting to learn how to cast on stitches I discovered I already knew how to do it. I am always amazed by muscle memory. I also think we must have had some knitting lessons because I found these needles mixed in with my craft supplies - they show signs of wear on the tips. I honestly don't remember ever completing a knitting project, so maybe I never got much further than casting on, knit, and purl.

Knit dishcloths
Great texture!

It's been really satisfying to learn a new skill, and my wrists and hands are so happy with more variety mixed into the motions I'm asking them to do. The cloth created by knitting is so different than that from crochet and I like how it squishes and stretches. I'd say my venture into the world of knitting is off to a successful start :o)

What new skills are you learning? I'd enjoy hearing about them - leave me a comment :o)

Monday, February 15, 2016

Flowers for the Cabin

Flowers for the Cabin...our cabin...our log home we would someday be building on top of the mountain. These were some of my thoughts as I worked on the design for this quilt block.

Flowers for the Cabin
Flowers for the Cabin ~ an original design

In the early summer of 2014 I was brainstorming on a new quilt block to submit to Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks magazine. I was fresh off my first success with my Dashing Geese block, and wondering if it was possible that I could come up with another original design. Was it just a fluke that I could actually come up with an original design? How on Earth was I ever to think up another one...because...because, well, I'm not a designer.

I was looking everywhere I could think for inspiration, flickr, Instagram, Pinterest. Search, search, search. And when I finally came up with an idea what if I just thought I was creating an original design and someone, somewhere, actually already came up with the same idea? How could I be positive it was really my design? And golly...just where was an idea going to come from?

One day I was looking at Pinterest and I came across a sweet little basket quilt block. At first glance I thought the basket was made up from a log cabin block. But on closer inspection I saw that it was not. All of a sudden I started thinking...what if I made a basket block with a log cabin construction and used floral fabric for half of it so it looked like a basket of flowers? A basket of flowers in a log cabin quilt block...a basket of flowers for our log cabin! Now I was really excited!

Log cabin block: half flowers and half basket

As I always do I pulled out my sketchbook and started to draw up my idea. Quiltmaker's requires all blocks to be 12.5" square and for this to work this block was going to require some mighty small pieces. Especially the 1" half square triangles. Wow...this was going to be hard!

Flowers for the Cabin - an original quilt block
This is the actual block I submitted to the magazine

Even after I finally had it sketched out to the required size I still had to figure out how to assemble it. Goodness knows this kind of a challenge has got to be good for my brain! Once I actually got my block stitched together I was pretty proud of myself, and excited to send it to the magazine to see if they would include it in their next issue.

About four months later I heard back that it was not going to be included. They send a personal response to you noting how they receive many more blocks than can be included, and how a good balance of blocks (similarity/contrast to other blocks) is needed, and note space limitations for patterns (construction needs to be simple - limited to 1/2 a magazine page). I was disappointed, but understood that not every idea is going to be a good one or suitable for a particular magazine. My Flowers for the Cabin block has some small piecing, and for the floral log cabin part to work pretty specific fabric is needed. So, I tucked my pattern away with my other designs and moved on.

As I'm working on my Random Sampler I really want to include all of the blocks I've designed, including this one. I did a bit of shopping for floral fabric that looks more autumnal and made up another block - simplifying the construction a bit on the "chain" portion, and extending some flower vines and blooms into the half square triangles. I believe I like this block even better than my original. Flowers for the Cabin will be making it's way into the quilt I'm making for our log cabin home and I couldn't be happier!

Flowers for the Cabin
Cozy Flowers for the Cabin against the snow

Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Random Sampler Continues

The Random Sampler, my Random Sampler, I know, I know, I've written about this quilt more than once. You can read more about it herehere, and here.  Why does it keep coming up? Well for one, it's still not finished (with good reason), and two, I do believe I love it the very best of anything I've ever made. I aloud to say that?

Random Sampler January 2016
Three complete sections of my Random Sampler

The blocks in this picture complete three sections of the quilt top. There are only two sections remaining, and I already have many of the blocks for those sections made, but they are not sewn together yet.

One of the reasons I like this quilt top so very much is that there is no intent to please anyone except myself - it does not have to be beautiful in anyone else's eyes - not the colors, not the fabrics, not the block choices. I want a quilt that I'm not afraid to actually use, and one that will be at home in our new log home. Watching this quilt top materialize is great fun :o)

I have spent many happy hours pouring over block patterns to include and fabrics to use. Once a block has been completed I've noted that some of them are not my favorite based on the choices I made. But, I've also decided that every block does not have to be wonderful. In fact, it's probably best that some of the blocks recede so that others can stand out. That way they are not all fighting for attention.

Some of my favorite parts are the "filler blocks. The blocks needed to make all the puzzle pieces fit together.

Random Sampler January 2016
Little house blocks reclaimed from another project

This little row of Home Sweet Home blocks is one example. I needed to bring the 12" Tree of Life block up to 16" to match the Fireworks block peaking at us on the left side of the picture.

Random Sampler January 2016
Applique vine

Another favorite is this sparse applique berry vine helping to bring the maple leaf block up to a standard size. The maple leaves were reclaimed from a stalled attempt at a Third Weekend in October quilt. (Note: I'd still like to make that quilt - it's a true beauty!)

New additions to my Random Sampler
Tossed Triangles attached to a Fireworks block

Finally, I made a run of triangles and used my favorite layout, which I call Tossed Triangles because I don't know if there is an actual name, to border this wonderful Fireworks block.

These little "fillers" truly are a few of my favorite things!

If you are interested in working on your own Random Sampler you can go back and start the same place I did. Anita of Bloomin' Workshop has a whole series of tutorials for many of these blocks. We all started our quilts in the fall of 2012. Okay, so I've been working on mine for three years now, don't let that scare you! I am just soaking in the joy of creating one block at a time.

Will you see this quilt top again on my blog...I'd say there is a pretty good chance the answer is yes!