Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Mustang Sidekick tote

DSC_1151

If you were to ask my husband, he would be the first to tell you that I need a new bag like a need a hole in my head.  But what does he know about purses and bags anyways, because it's true, I really did need a new every day bag.  I had been on the look out for a purse/bag small enough that I could use it for every day things that a gal needs a purse for, but big enough that I could stash an extra diaper, travel wipes and spare binky for emergencies (you know, the important "keep baby from fussing" things) when Nora and I were out on a quick errand.  While I love my diaper bag, its a giant pain in the patoot to lug around.

DSC_1140

Enter the Sidekick Tote.  I'm a big fan of Anna's patterns, the directions are easy to follow along, include lots of pictures and often include techniques that make me go "why didn't I think of that??".  I've made her Divided Basket and it gets used daily as it holds diapers and baby essentials that we use constantly.

DSC_1155

My absolute favorite part of this bag is the pocket.  Yes I love it because it is HUGE, easily accessible and super functional for things that would get lost in the bottom of my bag, like my keys, but can we talk for a minute about the fabric??  Yes that is definitely what makes the pocket my favorite thing about this bag.

I sort of missed out on all the buzz back at fall Quilt Market when Cotton + Steel was revealed, you know with having a baby and all at the same time.  And not to trudge off topic here, but can we talk about how I missed out on fall Quilt Market in my hometown of Pittsburgh last fall??  Oh that Nora, its a good thing shes so darn cute :-)  I suppose I'll have to catch it on the next visit to the Burgh.

DSC_1143

Now that Cotton + Steel is available for purchase, I immediately ordered a fat quarter bundle of Melody Miller's Mustang line.  Once it arrived and I was finished petting all that beautiful fabric, I decided the only way to make my Sidekick Tote even better, would be to use a few prints as accent fabrics.  I didn't even realize that alot of the Cotton + Steel prints had fun metallic accents, but that is by far my favorite part.  I used the Mint Sparkle Flower border print on the top flap and the Coral Arrows as the main pocket fabric, and made sure to get lots of that metallic goodness in each print.  (Bag main print is Essex yarn dyed linen in black).

DSC_1145

Aside from the awesome pocket, my second favorite part of this bag is the recessed zipper.  I had never made a bag with a recessed zipper and I'm 100% a fan.  I used more of that Mint Sparkle Flower print, and just used the "sparkle" part of the yardage for a fun recessed zipper surprise.  I think the only thing I would do differently next time would add a little interfacing to that inner top band fabric for added reinforcement.

DSC_1150

The inside is extra roomy and perfect for daily essentials plus "extras" when necessary.  I made the pocket larger than Anna called for and added a zipper pocket on the other side of the lining.  If you can't tell, I like pockets.

DSC_1154

Another new to me feature of this bag is the adjustable strap.  I've always skipped this step on previous bags and just done a straight forward strap, but I'm definitely happy I took the extra time, as it makes it easy for use as an over the shoulder bag, or cross body, which I'm becoming a fan of because it leaves more hands for carrying baby, and all her associated "things."  Secondly I think it really adds that "this is not homemade" stamp onto the bag.

DSC_1151

If its not evident by my gushing, I'm a huge fan of this bag, and plan on using it religiously as my go to daily bag.  Not to mention I get to look at that pretty sparkly fabric every day, which is a total plus!

Speaking of that awesome Melody Miller Mustang fabric, stop back tomorrow where I will have a fat quarter bundle of Mustang to give away to one lucky reader, sponsored by The Fat Quarter Shop!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Mixed Tape Side A quilt top

DSC_1087edit

I cannot believe how long it has taken me to actually turn these blocks into a quilt top.  I received all of these blocks as part of the 4x5 modern quilt bee, from various hives, and I'm embarrassed to say that these blocks started rolling in in October of 2011 that's almost 3 years ago!  Yikes, well I suppose better late than never, but I'm really kicking myself that  I didn't do it sooner, because I am LOVING this quilt top!  The colors are just so calm and serene.

DSC_1090edit

This quilt top came together completely on a whim.  I finally had the urge to sew something, and instead of pulling fabrics and starting something new, I just wanted to sew NOW.  Enter entire closet full of WIP projects in various stages of completeness.  I actually have about 6 bins of various bee blocks that are in need of sewing together, and these ones were speaking to me.  So I literally just threw them up on my design wall and started sewing the blocks together.

DSC_1096edit

If I wanted to be picky, I probably should have spent a little time nit picking over the layout, making sure the more dense color blocks were interspersed better with the blocks with more negative space, but I sort of love the randomness and how all the blocks really play nice with one another regardless.

DSC_1109edit

Nora totally gives this two thumbs up, or at least a quick wave hello while she's practicing her mad crawling skills.

DSC_1092edit

I have grand plans to turn this eventual quilt into a mad quilt bee block extravaganza, so we'll see how that turns out.  I dug into another bee block bin and started throwing blocks up on my design wall to get sewing for a quilt back (hint hint, for Side B).  Nothing better than a reversible quilt, and one made from more than 30 quilty friends?  Just awesome.

DSC_1116edit

Yes Nora, I agree that this quilt top rocks.  Girls got good taste at 9 months old, I tell you!






Monday, July 14, 2014

recharged.

Untitled

Well, that was an unexpected blogging hiatus!  When I published my most recent post back in May, I certainly did not expect to not post again for almost 2 months.  Yikes.  Can I blame it on that adorable little girl in the above picture?  Yes I think I will.  She is growing up entirely too quickly, I feel like I blink and she has somehow changed!  That's probably because she has, every day is a new adventure.  Just in the past month she has learned to crawl, will wave and anyone and everyone, and cut her very first tooth, and get this, it was her right eye tooth!  We've affectionately been referring to her as our vampire baby.

Nora will be 9 months old later this month, and I feel like I am just resurfacing and getting a handle on things.  Everyone had been telling me how much I'd regret wishing Nora could move once she was actually mobile, but I'm totally not.  Its like she can finally entertain herself for short periods of time.  Granted she has a new found love of electrical outlets and lamp cords and needs to be watched every millisecond of the day, but I feel like I can actually get things done while she is awake, as she is content to entertain herself with her toys kitchen utensils like wooden spoons and measuring cups.

She is however making me incredibly aware how much room for improvement there is when it comes to cleaning the house, in particularly the floors.  She will find any spec of anything lying on the floor, make a beeline for it and have it in her mouth in 2 seconds flat.  I've also been scouring pinterest  for a safe natural floor cleaner that actually gets the floor clean!  I had been using a Shark steam mop, and Nora's pant knees have been looking a little dingy from crawling even with regular mopping.  Just for the heck of it I ran a Swiffer Wet Jet over my just steam mopped floor, and the dirt I picked up was embarrassing!  I know our 2 oversized dogs don't help the situation, but still.  So if you have any recommendations, help a mama out and send them my way!

Anyways, enough with the reasons why I haven't been posting.  I think  I am finally finding a balance and finding time to sit behind my machine and sew here and there.  No, I can't spend marathon sessions completing entire quilt tops in a day, but I can spend an hour here and there and enjoy the time.  It definitely helps that I have 2 new nieces/nephews joining the world later this year in November/December, and they certainly need a quilt or five in their lives!

DSC_0825edit

I have a few posts to write up in the next week or two, but in the meantime, here is a post about my Sew Together Bag that is currently featured over at Ellison Lane as part of her Patchwork Summer Series.

I seriously love this bag.  I actually gave this particular bag to my sister in law as a birthday gift, and immediately had to make one for myself because I love it that much.  I'll be writing up a post for the second bag soon, so stay tuned!  

Thursday, May 22, 2014

baby Leon's baby quilt

DSC_0851edit

A friend of mine asked if I would make a baby quilt for a friend of hers who was expecting a little boy.  I've been quite picky with commissioned projects, as I'm pretty limited in sewing time these days, and only want to spend it working on projects I really love.  This friend is always pretty open to whatever design I pick and lets me do most of the choosing, so I rarely have an issue making quilts as gifts for her!

Her only request was that I take a look through the mommy-to-be's baby registry to make something that went with the colors in the nursery.  I do this anyways, so it certainly wasn't a problem.  When I peeked at her registry, everything was brown and cream and void of just about any color, let alone the bright saturated colors I tend to gravitate towards.  Hmm.  This certainly made me pause, as brown and cream are not colors I use often or have much of in my stash.

DSC_0853

After getting a sense of this mama-to-be's style, she seems to like things very classic, clean, simple and neutral.  I took a few days to think the quilt top over, both design and color wise, and decided to just head to Joann's and see what I came up with.  I picked out a few brown prints and a 3 Kona shades of cream, and ultimately decided to add in a few prints in a dusty baby blue, as I couldn't bear to make a quilt that consisted of only brown and cream.  After much debate, I went with my gut and pieced together a simple strip quilt consisting of strips of various widths.

  Even though this strip quilt fits the "classic, clean, simple and neutral" bill, after piecing the top I thought it was just too plain and needed "something".  Mom ended up going into labor and delivering the baby just as I was basting the quilt, so we were able to find out the brand new baby's name.  I applique'd baby Leon's name to his quilt and think it adds just the "something else" this rather straight forward strip quilt needed.

DSC_0855

As for the applique, I found a font I liked and typed out baby Leon's name in an absurdly large size in Word, and printed out each letter, then used light weight fusible web to adhere the text to the quilt.  I just used a straight stitch about 1/8" in from the letter edge, and applied fray check to the raw edges to prevent as much fraying as possible when washing.  I can happily report after the first washing, there was little to no fraying, so the applique should hold up to all the love and washings a baby quilt is bound to receive.

DSC_0856

I backed this quilt in a brown Minky dot I picked up at Joann's and I must say I think I'm a Minky convert. I don't know that I will ever back a baby quilt in anything other than Minky from this point forward.  I was a little scared off when I used a "furry" minky on the back on Nora's Raspberry Orange Chevron quilt, I had a really hard time quilting it, which I attributed to just using Minky, but I think it was more because the nap was so thick, not that it was Minky in general, as I had little to no problems quilting this quilt.

DSC_0857

As for the quilting, I stuck with my "classic, clean, simple and neutral" mantra and straight line quilted at about a 45 degree angle about 1 1/2" apart from one another.  I have to say even though this quilt is a beyond simple design, it really is one of my favorites.

We have a few close friends that are having babies, and I'm thinking they all need a quilt like this for their little ones.   Because it comes together so quickly, its an easy one to make once the baby is born and the name is known!  I'm even thinking of making of few of these without batting so it feels more just like a blanket, but is extra cuddly with the Minky.  Maybe I'll give it a try and make Nora one.  Because she definitely needs another quilt/blanket ;-)




Tuesday, May 13, 2014

a geranium or two

Ever since Nora was born, I have wanted to dip my feet back into clothing sewing and make a few dresses for her, but always hesitated and just worked on another baby quilt instead, you know, something a little more in my comfort zone.  My dear bloggy friend Ann is not only an amazing quilter, but sews oodles of dresses and clothes for her little girl, and sent me a great list of starter patterns and tutorials, and gave me just the necessary nudge to pick a pattern and just dive right in.  

DSC_0776edit

I decided I get my baby clothing toes wet with the Geranium dress by Made by Rae and could not be more pleased with how it came together!  I actually stitched up two Geranium dresses, one with a basic neckline and a pleated skirt, and one with a notched neckline and gathered skirt.  I also added piping where to bodice and skirt meet using this tutorial, and am equally smitten with how both dresses turned out.  I'd have to say by that smile, Nora's pretty happy with her handmade dresses too!

DSC_0749edit


image

For the first dress I used a print from the Croquet line by DS Quilts at Joanns.  From the moment I saw this purple plaid print, I knew I wanted to make some sort of clothing out of it for Nora, and the Geranium pattern was just the ticket!  I made the 6-12 month size, and while it fits to wear now, there is definitely room to grow, so it will get lots of wear this summer.  The pattern came together incredibly easy,  I think it took me just as long to trace and cut out the pattern pieces as it did to sew the dress together.  Very doable in one sewing session after Nora went to sleep.  I even got to try out the automatic button hole maker on my sewing machine for the first time!  Success!!

DSC_0790edit

I also made a matching diaper cover using this tutorial by Made and it is sort of the cutest little thing.  I'm a little bummed I forgot to snap a picture of it!

DSC_0746edit

For the second dress, I used an aqua Cloud 9 print also found at Joann's and paired it with a grey polyester blend suiting material I happened across while waiting at the cutting counter.  I love this version with ruched skirt and different print bodice and skirt, and with the skirt fabric being a polyester blend, it will definitely help keep wrinkles to a minimum!  While I love the purple plaid version, I'm not a fan of ironing my own clothes, let alone clothes for my 6 month old.  I definitely see more Geranium dresses in wrinkle resistant fabrics in Nora's future!!

I'm definitely planning much more baby clothes sewing, every thing is so itty-bitty, it certainly takes the intimidation factor away!  I'd love to hear your favorite baby/kids clothes sewing patterns and tutorials, what should I make next??




Friday, May 2, 2014

large and in charge man quilt

DSC_0627edit

I have finally finished up the largest quilt myself and Bertha (my machine) have ever quilted, and my arms have lived to tell the tale!  Prior to this quilt, my Swoon quilt had taken the cake as the largest quilt I'd worked on (measuring 90" square), however the Man Quilt has topped the list, weighing in at a hefty 90" x 102".  

I think Bertha was dying for the attention, because she quilted like a champ.  No skipped stitches, no tension issues and no broken needles.  I think she was afraid I'd leave her neglected for another month if she gave me any issues!  Whatever the reason, quilting this behemoth went incredibly smoothly, and gave my shoulders and upper back a workout in the meantime.  

DSC_0628edit

Having completed this generous queen size quilt, I'm actually toying with the idea of tackling a king size quilt for our own bed.  Now that we have broken the dogs (for the most part) of calling our bed their bed, I can rest easy knowing that it wouldn't be destroyed by the fur children.  I can't quite picture what sort of pattern I'd like, I'm thinking something geometric, chevrons of some sort perhaps?  Anyways, I digress, back to the quilt at hand.

DSC_0630edit

I mentioned in my post about the quilt top that I had tried a new method of basting, and I'd report back once I saw how things turned out.  I gave table basting a try and have to say I'm pretty impressed with the results.  I'm a hard core basting-on-the-floor gal and have always preferred basting spray to pins, so this idea of basting on a table, and with pins took me way outside of my comfort zone.  I had read multiple positive reviews on this method so I decided to give it a shot.  The main appeal for me, was knowing that I likely wouldn't be able to baste this giant all in one session, and I really don't have the space in my house to leave a quilt this large just laying around for days on end without it getting trampled on, and the dogs making it their new personal queen size pet bed.

I completely forgot to snap pictures as I went with this method, but I basically used a mash up of these two tutorials found here and here.  I  set up my quilt layers like the second post described and held them taut using clamps, as I couldn't fit the entire quilt top on my table all at once.  Once all three layers (backing, batting and quilt top) were nice and smooth and secured to the table with the clamps, I went to town pin basting, like the first post describes. Once I had pin basted the area that was smooth on the table top, I unclamped the quilt layers, and shifted the entire quilt to repeat the process with an unbasted section. I repeated this until the entire quilt was basted.

DSC_0631edit

I can happily report that this method was a success!  I had zero puckers on the quilt back and was able to spend 10 minutes here and there working on basting the quilt when I had a few spare moments, AND I didn't have to spend hours on my hands and knees basting a quilt this size.  

I still would have to say I prefer my spray basting method, and will use that method whenever I can, but for a larger quilt that I can't/don't want to baste all in one session, this table basting method will be my go to.  I will say the main downside was spending all that extra time removing the pins, although this is just a downside (in my opinion) to pin basting itself, whether on floor or on a table.

Untitled

I gifted this quilt to my brother on Easter, and am happy to report that he loves it!  The above picture is one he snapped on his phone of the quilt already living on his bed.  I'm glad to have this quilt finished and off to its new home.  I'm in the middle of stitching together a sweet and simply strip quilt for a baby boy, and am envisioning the quilting to feel like a walk in the park in comparison to this big guy!



  

Monday, April 21, 2014

long lost baby quilt

DSC_0009

I think this is a first, I was looking back through my pictures on Flickr, and I found I quilt I hadn't shared here on the blog!  No, it wasn't a super secret project or anything fun like that, according to the date stamp on the pictures I finished this quilt and photographed it a mere 3 days before giving birth to Nora!  Apparently this quilt got lost in the early newborn hazy days, but it certainly isn't because this quilt is tucked away not being used, its a favorite in our house and can often be found spread out in the middle of the living room floor covered in rattles, stuffed animals and toys that talk and sing.  And when Nora isn't using it to roll around on, the dogs find it a nice place to take a nap :-)

DSC_0013

This quilt came to be when at the 11th hour I realized that of all the quilts I made for Nora, I didn't have one that actually matched the nursery!  So of course that situation needed remedied.  I dug through my stash and pulled out my favorite yellow and grey fabrics, and threw in a few pops of hot pink just for some added color.  I used a precious charm square I'd been hoarding of  the yellow puppy dogs print by Heather Ross and also a charm square of Heather Ross Mendocino mermaids.  I love this quilt anyways, but those two little additions made it pretty much perfect in my book.

DSC_0015

I remember my husband looking at me a little crazily when I told him Nora needed one more quilt, he thought 3 quilts was plenty.  I disagreed and told him there was no such thing as too many quilts, and I have to say I was right!  In addition to the plethora of quilts we have strewn about the house, Nora has 4 that are her very own, and they are all in regular rotation, getting ample amounts of baby love.

DSC_0014

I used my ultimate favorite quilt back, the numbers Ikea print (which I heard is being discontinued...whaaaaat??).  So I'm trying  to find time to squeeze in an Ikea trip soon to buy yards and yards and yards of this print to have on hand for many baby quilts to come.

DSC_0011

These pictures have me crazy excited for spring and the good weather that is to come!  The past few days have been beautiful and we've gotten outside for a few walks around the neighborhood, Nora squints at the sun like she doesn't know what it is (and in her defense, she really hasn't seen much of it!)  Can't wait for warm summer days and dragging those quilts outside for play time, come on sunshine!

And just because its been a while since I've shared a Nora pic, I'll leave you with this one:

DSC_0597edit

Check out those baby blues, this girl was made to wear aqua!