Monday, June 24, 2013

baby stitches


This pregnancy seems to just be flying by, I'm about 6 months along now, and can't believe that in 4 short months we'll be meeting out little one for the first time!  Things have been relatively easy so far (knock on wood!!), and as we found out that our little pumpkin is indeed a little LADY, I decided it was high time to dig into that Baby DIY Pinterest board I've been pinning away to for the past 6 months, and get sewing.


I started by stitching up a few self binding receiving blankets using this tutorial by Sew Much Ado, but altered the cutting directions to cutting my backing at 40" square and the front fabric at 34" square.  The only reason I did this, was after pre-washing my flannel I snagged at Joann's there was major shrinkage.  The WOF shrunk to about 40ish inches, so a 42" square wasn't happening.

I found there to be a little bit of a learning curve with these, and that accurate cutting is so so important!  The first blanket I made (the light pink on the bottom) turned out horribly, and I figured out it was because my squares were off and slightly rectangle-ish instead of square.  Once I figured out how to use my big 20.5" cutting ruler to square up the fabrics, it was much smoother sailing, and I was cranking out one of these blankets in about 45 minutes (pressing and cutting fabric included)


I plan on making more of these guys (when I can get flannel on sale again!), they feel so cozy and will make great swaddle blankets.


With the leftover flannel from my smaller cutting measurements,  I was also able to cut the fronts for 2 burp clothes from each background fabric.  For the backing, I searched high and low for cotton chenille, that I ultimately ended up purchasing off of Ebay, as Joann's no longer carries this fabric.  I used Made's Burp Cloth Tutorial and could not be happier with the result.  I love how soft the flannel side is, and how absorbent the cotton chenille will be for those baby spit up moments.


While I love the chenille, it was a little pricier (read: alot pricier) than I had planned on spending, as its not readily available at any fabric shop near me.  I'd love to know if any of you moms out there would recommend another sort of fabric that would be equally absorbent for the backing?  I'd love to make some of these for a few friends that are having babies soon also.  I was thinking of using terry cloth but thought I'd consult you wise readers before making any rash decisions :-)


While I'm picking your brains about absorbent backing fabrics, I'd love to know what your favorite DIY baby projects were!  I have a list about a mile long, and would love to know of tutorials or baby items you found super helpful, so I can prioritize my list.

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, June 17, 2013


Nothing to see here folks, just claiming my blog on Bloglovin before the impending shut down of Google Reader :-(

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Sunday, June 16, 2013

Sucked In

I'm a sucker for a quilt along.  Plain and simple.  I was really doing well trying to tame the massive amount of unfinished projects that are lurking in the depths of my sewing room, and resisting brand new projects, but I couldn't resist the Tula Pink City Sampler QAL any longer.  Seeing all that rainbow goodness popping up in blog land for the past three weeks was breaking me down bit by bit, until I found myself perusing the 100 Modern Quilt Blocks book last week on Amazon and then magically it was in my cart and I was hitting the purchase button.

Tula City Sampler blocks 1-12

My book arrived on Saturday, and I immediately got to stitching.  Honestly, I have no idea why I resisted Tula for so long, has she ever led me astray??  Every project I've ever made either using a Tula Pink pattern or fabric line (like here, and here) ends up being a favorite, and I can already tell this quilt will be no exception.  Over the past two days I've whipped up the first 12 blocks and they are like quilty crack incredibly addictive.  

Tula City Sampler blocks 1-3

These are blocks 1-3.  I'm following along with the color palate featured in the book, to hopefully end up with a rainbow Gridlock layout as featured on the cover.  I'm not exclusively using Tula fabrics, but working from my stash and incorporating assorted Tula prints when I can.

Tula City Sampler blocks 4-6

As I dug into this project, the little rational voice in the back of my head was saying "this project sounds awfully like another sampler quilt featuring 6.5" blocks that's stashed away in the darkness of abandoned projects...ahem...Farmers Wife QAL" and while yes, that voice is absolutely correct, those Farmers Wife blocks will likely never see the light of day again, this QAL has a completely different vibe...and no templates!  So I say to you nay-sayer voice of reason, I will finish this sampler quilt!

Tula City Sampler blocks 7-9

These blocks really do have such a fresh modern vibe, and are so easy to put together.  I seem to spend more time planning the fabrics for each block than I do cutting and sewing.  It's going to be hard to stick to only making 3 a week!

Tula City Sampler blocks 10-12

As I'm not using the exact fabrics featured in the book, I was getting a little nervous that my quilt would look like rainbow throw-up instead organized color transitions, so I planned the quilt out in the Touch Draw app for iPad, and plan on dropping in each block as I finish them to get an idea of how the final layout will look, sort of a virtual design wall if you will.

tula 1-12

Right now it just looks like a lot of empty white squares, but not only will it let me monitor my color selections, but also will be a motivator to keep making blocks, as I can instantly see how my quilt is going to look when its finished!

Looking forward to my next date with Tula to whip up more blocks!


Monday, June 10, 2013

Wonky House Tutorial and EQ7 Review

Hive 4 January

After much fiddling with my new EQ7 software, I finally have templates for my Wonky House block that are ready to share and download! You may remember this block from my massive Stash Bee block catch up from last month.  Pauline requested wonky houses for her month back in February and I definitely hesitated as I've mentioned before that I don't do wonky very well.  A lightbulb went off and I thought to design a paper piecing "wonky" pattern with EQ7.  This way I could have my cake and eat it too...the block would be perfectly wonky...with the bonus of crisp template lines to follow along with.

I'm not going to share a tutorial for paper piecing in general, as there are several awesome ones out there in blog land, and why reinvent the wheel.  If you have never paper pieced before, or need a refresher, check out Faith of Fresh Lemon's Quilts Paper Piecing Tutorial her's is my favorite!

The Wonky House Paper Piecing Templates can be found here. Block size is 12.5" unfinished, or 12" finished.  Please download the file to your computer before printing the templates, as I've found the block sizing to be off when printing directly from Google documents.

Untitled Drawing 43

Cut out all template pieces and paper piece using the numbered sections on each template.  Once all your sections are pieced, use the above diagram to assemble your block.  Please note sections A, H and I are single fabric sections.  Due to the size constrictions of fitting the template pieces onto standard 8.5" x 11" paper for printing, this was the only option.

Also, please note that the above finished block is a mirror image (read: backward) of the template pieces.

Once your block is pieced, admire your work!  Also be sure to add it to the SewCraftyJess Flickr group, as I'd love to see your interpretation!

If you are interested in the ramblings of my EQ7 experiences so far, check out the review below:

I had been in the market for quilt design software for some time now, and had deliberated between several options.  I have used the TouchDraw app for my iPad thus far for quilt patterns and tutorial illustrations, which has worked great, but I really wanted something to help design paper piecing templates.  I checked out jumping in with Adobe Illustrator, but ultimately thought that might be a little more than I really needed (and pricier too!), as well as checked out a few online quilt design options including Thread Bias' Quilt Design Tool, but decided that I wanted something that would be downloaded to my computer and not require a monthly subscription fee.  After ruling out these options, I settled on Electric Quilt's EQ7.

After receiving my software in the mail (I ordered from Fat Quarter Shop) I spent quite a bit of time reviewing the users manual for EQ7, learning the ins and outs of the software, as well as watching the demo videos and tips that are built right into the software.

I also purchased the book EQ With Me: Pieced Drawing, as I was still a little unsure of the best way to use the software to design blocks that I had in mind.  I can't say enough good things about this book.  It takes each of the modes available in the EQ7 software and teaches you how to use them via a multitude of step by step tutorials (lessons) detailing how to construct various blocks of assorted difficulty.  If I had known about this book from the beginning, I would have skipped the users manual and dove right into the lessons, as I'm a hands-on learner.

So far, there hasn't been a quilt block I've come up with that EQ7 couldn't design, or a quilt layout that didn't easily come together.  I'm also a huge fan of the ability to import fabric swatches to get an actual image of what a quilt will look like with certain fabrics.

As for the cons, my main dislike is the lack of instruction within the software and users manual itself for using each function to actually construct quilt blocks.  Maybe its just me, but I find its one thing to understand how a tool works and another to apply that tool in a string of 9 other tools to make a finished product.  Now as mentioned before, the EQ With Me book completely did this for me, but after spending all that money on the software, its understandable to not want to spend another $30 on a book to learn how to use the software.

One of the main reasons I wanted this software was to design paper piecing templates not only for myself, but to share with all you lovely readers.  While EQ7 makes the designing aspect of this incredibly easy (once getting the hang of things), it doesn't make the sharing part easy at all.  I found (and confirmed) that there is no way to save the resulting pages of paper piecing templates as an image document or PDF in the software.  While this is no big deal if only making templates for yourself, but it poses a huge problem if planning on sharing the templates as a download with others.

  There is a way around this, I used Shape Moth's suggestion of installing a free PDF creator (I downloaded this one for free and it works like a charm) that lists itself among your printer options, so instead of printing the final copy of paper piecing templates via a printer, you can "print" them by selecting the PDF creator from the drop down printer selector which then results in PDF pages to save to your computer that are ready to download, instead of printed pages.

Let me make myself clear, most of my gripes I have have nothing to do with the actual function of how the software works to design quilts and quilt blocks, but instead are with the little extras that would help with the finishing stages of publishing and sharing paper piecing templates.  Perhaps this is where I should have considered Adobe Illustrator (and its heftier price tag) for publishing purposes, but in case you perhaps are considering EQ7 for the same reasons, I thought I'd share my experiences.

On the whole, I can't say enough good things about this software and its ease of use, and only a minuscule amount of gripes, which for the most part I have been able to navigate around.  I definitely give it a two thumbs up, which if I had to purchase again, would do so in a heartbeat!  Disclaimer:  I have not been paid in any way for this review.  It is simply an unbiased review of my thoughts and impressions to share with others who may be in the market for quilt design software.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Elephants on Parade


I finished this quilt top way back when...and it sat, and sat, and sat, and sat  until I mustered up the energy for a basting session to get this little guy ready to quilt.  I was all set up with my free motion foot ready to quilt this little guy, and at the last minute changed my mind.  There really was no rhyme or reason, but I suddenly thought this quilt needed some wavy lines, nice and simple, like this quilt from last year.  Once washed, I just love how much texture this sort of quilting gives the finished product, and bonus, its quick and easy!  I didn't quilt quite as densely as I did before, quilting a line along each vertical seam, and then one down the center of each block (about every 1.5"), so I hope once washed, it will look similar.


The construction of this quilt was quite simple, by alternating 9 patch blocks and wonky star blocks, a la Vanessa's Reverse Hopscotch baby quilt.  I saw Vanessa posting progress pics of her quilt on Instagram, and I knew this was the perfect use of these fabrics I had sitting in a pile waiting to magically become a baby quilt.


This quilt is going in a stash of baby quilts I've been whipping up, as it seems every time we turn around, another friend or family member is announcing they are having a baby right around the same time as me!  It should be fun, in that we almost have enough little ones on the way to make our own play group once the  time comes!

Quilt Stats
Name:  Elephants on Parade
Pattern:  None, inspired by Vanessa Christiansen's Reverse Hopscotch Quilt
Size:  45" x 45"
Fabrics used:  Elephant print from Joann's and coordinating prints from stash
Backing:  Solid aqua bed sheet
Binding: Aneela Hooey Little Apples strip in aqua
Quilting:  Vertical serpentine lines appx every 1.5"