My first bag! and a swap finish

I’m trying to take advantage of a rare spurt of energy to catch up on all my finished projects from whenever the last time I wrote about any finished projects.

First up is a bag I made. My first bag, actually. All the quilters on IG are making bags, and my mom has been asking for one since I first started sewing several years ago, so I thought  I’d give it a shot. Plus, it was her 50th birthday, and it would have been kinda jerky to not get my mom ANYTHING for her 50th.

I used this free tutorial, and I think it turned out pretty nice. It’s not perfect. The bottom seams didn’t match up because I totally forgot to even check that, but my mom liked it and I can check “making a bag” off my list of things to make for her. Next up is tackling zippered pouches (check back in the next five years to see if I’ve ever gotten around to this).

I was really glad to find a use for some Tula Pink. It’s basically novelty fabric, which I really have no use for. I guess a lot of bags are in my future.

Up next is a swap finish I don’t think I ever posted. It was for the Spring Fling Mini swap way back in April.

My partner said she loved Bonnie and Camille fabrics in any of the Thimble Blossom patterns, so I thought I would rock my April Showers bundle in some adorable granny squares (seriously, Thimble Blossom and B&C fabrics are usually not my thing but I really loved these little granny squares. Granny squares make any fabric totes adorbs). This is what it looked like in the end –

I did matchstick quilting (not a fan) and rounded edges (it’s alright) for the first time on this quilt and I think it turned out nicely. I got a lot of positive feedback on IG, but I was actually really embarrassed when she received it because she had made THE EXACT SAME THING for herself, only she had never posted it on IG. Actually, she had made a full size version, but it was still April Showers in granny squares. She swore she loved it and loved the idea of having a mini of one of her favorite quilts, but I am still not sure if I totally NAILED this swap or bungled it.

An actual craft post, yay!

Sewing and crafting has been slow. Really slow. The first trimester exhaustion and nausea that inhibited my crafting abilities has yet to dissipate, even though I am now at 19 weeks, and so almost halfway through this pregnancy.

When I first fell pregnant, the plan was to just take a crafting break for a few months because I assumed this pregnancy would be like the other two and I would start bouncing back at around 13 weeks. That has yet to happen, and I don’t want to go this whole time in a crafting funk, so I’m trying to adapt and just work more slowly through projects (something I didn’t even think was possible, as I am possibly the Slowest Craft Ever).

Cross stitch has been a nice, easy, fairly mindless thing to do when I want to sit and do nothing (which is all the time), but also do *something*.

I’ve been working on this adorable little sampler from last year at Cloudsfactory. I started it last August, so I’ve been working on it a year and I’m still only in May. Like I said, slowest crafter ever.

I also started a little Halloween wall hanging in the Cotton + Steel Spellbound line, which is probably the only Halloween fabric I have ever liked. I figured since hubby and I actually own a home now and I sew, I should like, make pretty stuff for it. I’ve been “working” on these for about two months now, and all I have to show for it are just two blocks. Seriously. Sewing is hard when you can’t brain.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/91936282@N00/20526445639/in/datetaken/

I started a queen sized quilt way back in March and haven’t worked on it since I got pregnant, but I need to get back to it. It was originally from a quilt a long hosted by Modern Handcraft. I am only about two blocks into it because SCE (see above). I’m using neutral Kona solids with the Shimmer line, by Jennifer Sampou. It’s supposed to be dwarfy.

I’ll end the post here with some deep thoughts, brought to you by DMX:

It’s not you, it’s me

I’m not in love with Tula anymore. I know, shocking. It really is beautiful fabric. I appreciate the saturation, the fascinating subjects of some of her panel pieces, the creativity, but after about a year of seeing that fabric everywhere and in every thing, I can say with some confidence that it just isn’t my cup of tea. Oh sure, I browsed #thegreatfabricdestash on IG sometimes to catch a good deal, but I realize now that more than anything it was the thrill of the chase, and trying to acquire a highly desired piece of fabric simply because it was hard to find and so many other people wanted it. Thankfully, I set a price point early on and never went over it, so I don’t have any pieces I’ve purchased that I’m really ashamed of the money I spent on it. I am, however, a little ashamed of how much I have spent on bundles (usually just FQ) of entire collections that now I’m just not sure I’ll ever use. “Sure, just destash it”, you say, but that comes with its perils, some of which I have recently discovered. First, destashing is stressful and a big pain the rear. I destashed a lot of what I have so that right now, of my Tula, I only have a FQ or less of each print. I made some money, but I can’t say for sure if it was worth it. Second, and this is what really turned me off of both destashing, and maybe even the fabric itself (bad associations now), people can be nasty. See, you think you’ve done some research into the pricing of particular, HTF OOP fabrics, you list them for that, and instead of people behaving decently and just scrolling along if that price is too high, they comment. They balk, they tag their friends to come and look at your listing. Maybe then someone comes along and undercuts you and alludes to you in their listing, so their followers can go and look at your high priced listing and then go back and say nasty things about you, your motivations for selling at a certain price, and so on. All the while, you thought you had found a fair price point. You had seen the fabric sell for that very same price just that day, with no balking, no nasty talk, just a fair and honest transaction.

Yeah. My feelings were hurt. Yeah, maybe it’s silly to have my feelings hurt, but I really thought it was unnecessarily childish and hurtful. How hard is it to just move on? If it costs too much, you are under no obligation to buy or even comment.

I can’t even bring myself to look at this fabric right now.

So, the goal now is to use up what I have. Difficult, since this hasn’t been my go-to fabric to begin with.I did want to do the 100 Modern Quilt Blocks Sampler with what I have (I know, how original). Maybe later, after some more prints have gone out of print, I can try my hand at selling again and make back what I’ve spent.

Yesterday I broke up most of the collections and put them in my regular bins, sorted by color. I need to use the fabric from those bins more often, and I’ve been feeling pigeonholed by seeing collections all together. Maybe breaking them up will help the creative juices flow, and maybe after a while out of sight, I won’t feel so negatively about the fabric and will actually be able to use them.

A year in review – thoughts on using Instagram for quilt inspiration (part one – the good)

It’s been about a year since I first discovered Instagram as a great way to network and meet other amazing quilters. I’ll have to credit Molli Sparkles with being the first quilter I followed, and from his page, the three or so hundred I now follow. I think the easiest way for me to work through my thoughts on this would be a simple pro/con list, because I do have a fair few of both.

Pros:
1)This one is easy, really. Getting to “meet” amazing quilt artists from all over the world and being able to expose myself to a huge variety of quilts and styles. I’ve mostly followed the modern crowd, but I do have a few more traditional quilters on me feed as well.

2)The fabrics! I would have never, ever known about some of the amazing lines of fabrics that have come out this year or in the past. This has been a bit of a double edged sword (as you’ll see in the cons list), but overall it’s been quiet positive. I’ve learned about some great shops, both larger internet ones, small etsy shops, and my local modern quilt shop.

(Denise Schmidt fabrics are  my jam, yo)

3)The quilts, duh – Of course, amazing quilters using amazing fabrics are going to make some killer quilts. I confess, I have hundreds of pictures of quilts and quilts in progress saved on my phone just to easily refer back to and look at because so many are so gosh darn pretty.

4)Global participation/swaps/trades/etc – I think it’s just awesome that I’ve made some quilt friends from all over the world. I love it. I love thinking about how even though they might be on the literal opposite side of the world, we all share a common interest and spend many of our days sitting at our sewing machine, taking photographs of our work and sharing and commenting. Even better, that some of these people take it upon themselves to organize swaps so that we can gift each other with what I consider basically beautiful pieces of art, created from the heart of someone else for another, regardless of skill level. Through these swaps, I’ve learned how to appreciate fabrics and aesthetics that I might have overlooked as “not my taste” and never thought about again, but by using fabric out of my comfort zone to make something to the taste of my partner, or my receiving something my partner has made for me, I can see fabrics, techniques, everything in a new, refreshing, and inspirational light.

(Minis I’ve received in swaps so far)

5)Branching out – Not only have I really stretched myself this year in quilting, but I’ve also decided to pick up a few other hobbies. Many of the quilters I follow also do embroidery and cross stitching, so I’ve picked up some materials and have started a few projects I’m really excited about, too.

A year long sampler I am so, so, so behind on (this was for 2014)

6) Motivation – I don’t think I have ever sewn so much in such a short span, but this last year I have finished so many quilts, tried so many new techniques, just seen SO MANY new things. Plus, seeing other quilters just crank stuff out so quickly lights a little bit of a fire underneath my rear, so I’m really itching to get to a few unfinished projects that have been languishing so I can post them and call them DONE.

Swap progress, and a finish!

It’s been quiet on the blog,  but not at all in my house or my sewing area!

After I finished the high-stress wedding quilt, I took a little breather for a few days before jumping into new projects. That quilt was so much fun to do, and I was so happy with it, but it hung over my head for a good long time, and so having it completed was a huge weight, and I wanted to bask in the Don’t Have Any Project Timelines feeling for a bit.

But that time is over, and now I need to get started on some new projects. I’ve signed up for two swaps. One is a mini quilt swap called the Spring Fling Mini quilt swap on Instagram (where I find out about all my swaps, because as much as I’d like to, I just can’t keep up with blogs regularly). The next is a Tea Lovers Mug Rug swap, which I’m actually a little nervous about. I’ve made mug rugs, but my partner, at least according to the mosaics she’s posted on IG, has much, much different tastes, not only in regard to fabric choices but quilt preferences. Every one of her example pictures has fancy applique, and I have never, ever done applique and I don’t want to use this as a first for it. I’ll need to think on it a bit more. At least a mug rug is small and fairly quick, although I don’t quite know what I’ll do for extras at the moment.

The Spring Fling Mini is a little more straightforward. My partner was clear on her interests, and thank goodness I already had fabric of her favorite designer. She loves Bonnie and Camille, so I am putting together a granny square mini made of several of the fabrics from the April Showers line. I’ve got most of them cut, but not photographed.

Another new project is for the Sew My Stash 2015 challenge this month. The theme this time is using up some of our precuts. I decided to use my Winter’s Lane layer cake bundle to make a little Christmas throw quilt for our couch. It’s super simple – just mostly random placed fabrics in a chevron design, but I think it will look really nice in our living room. I need to get cracking if I’m to finish the top by the first week of March, though!

And now for my finish! Do you remember YEARS ago when I started working on some placemats? Well, they are DONE. Six placemats, all bound and now in use.



I’m actually really happy to finally have some placemats, and even two years later, I still love the colors on these. Green, gray, blue and orange are probably one of my favorite combinations.

Oh, and I nearly forgot to mention, I’ve also decided to join a quilt-a-long for spring. The pattern we will all be using is Alison Glass’ Timber pattern.

First, let me just say, I love this pattern. I love how bold and geometric it is, and I think it will make an amazing quilt for my husband. I’m also really excited about how customizable it is. I plan on making mine completely symmetrical. I’ve been wanting to make this quilt since I saw it, and a QAL is a perfect chance to do so. My fabric choices are going to be a lot darker.

Sorry this is such an ugly mock-up, but it’s just a general idea to work from when I get started. The main fabric will be black, with various grays and taupe making up the stripes, accented with Jennifer Sampou’s Shimmer  line in place of the brights.

I’d like to make it queen size as well, so we can put it on our bed. I already have the wool batting (I’ve never used wool before, but it feels luscious!). My hope is that this will turn out, for lack of a better way of describing it, very “dwarfy”, as in fantasy/Tolkein/World of Warcraft dwarf, because my husband loves them and I love the design in the fantasy architecture and armor.

Linking back to the link up page!

Sew My Stash 2015 – Taking Inventory

I use Instagram A LOT for my quilty networking. Some people are just so much more organized and enthusiastic about setting up little challenges, and it’s a lot of fun to join in with other quilters to accomplish some task, be it for charity or just to help yourself.

Around the end of 2014, Project: Leasa started up a little something called Sew My Stash 2015 to encourage us fabric hoarders to use up some of our own stash. My stash is unfortunately some horrible by product of rabbit DNA manipulation, and I swear multiplies by itself while it sits in my craft room (cheesy innocent face here, accompanied by whistling), so I really need to do something to cull the fabric madness.

First thing’s first. I am officially off buying fabric. Mostly. Well, there is a collection coming out in March that I want, and another in May, but those are planned and will be budgeted! And just ignore that I might actually be waiting for some fabric coming in the mail this week. But it’s okay, though! Those are “investments”. Yes… See, they’ll go out of print, and if I don’t get to use them, I can sell them and maybe make my money back! Yeah?

Okay, my resolve is weak, but I really will try, for the sake of my pocketbook, marriage, world peace, and so I don’t end up on hoarders one day.

Now that I’ve admitted I have a problem, the next step is taking inventory. I can’t plan and create beautiful works of art without knowing what I have!

Here’s what I’ve got (cries):

These photos are all from an old CD and book shelf. This is the top half of one

The bottom half

The bookshelf part. This is where some of my backings, solids, and popular fabrics for my etsy shop are. The bottom of that shelf is where I keep my quilting books. It’s actually neat and tidy, so no picture.

This is my bin of shame. I only discovered the wonderful world of designer fabrics about a year ago, and so this bin is full of miscellaneous fabrics I was either given, or purchased from local big box stores. Not to say there is anything wrong with that AT ALL, and I’ve cleared out most of the really low quality stuff, but to be honest, my fabric tastes have changed a whole lot in the last few years. This is my main problem area, and where I would like to make the biggest dent in the stash. I need to find a way to fall in love with all of these fabrics again. I love looking at a designer’s collection and seeing how they all coordinate is so pleasing, and all the matching work has been done already, so it’s hard to see a lot of random fabrics and put something cohesive and beautiful together. I used to be better at this, before I started buying collections. I’m ashamed that I’ve fallen out of practice. These are all organized by color, and while the drawers aren’t opened, trust me when I say it’s quite an assortment.

Here are my scraps – bits of fabric smaller than a fat quarter. I have my scraps somewhat organized. All of the fabrics in the plastic zip bags are organized by color, and when they get small enough I cut them into 2.5″ squares. I don’t like to store anything smaller than 2.5″ because while I know someone, somewhere could make some use of them, I already have a problem and don’t need to take up space with some someday project I’ll never do. I’m extra bad, too. I just toss the scraps. I don’t even save them for pet beds or anything. The scraps in the little bin and paper bag need to be sorted. Sigh.

Nothing bad here – just backings for baby quilts.

Now this is really awful. Last June a good friend told me his mother was having an estate sale, and since she had quite a bit of fabric, he just gave me this. Free fabric is such a double edged sword. One one hand, it’s free! On the other, you always get too much. In these bins are large pieces, most over a yard, and some as much as three to five (I’m guessing). She had slightly different tastes than me, but I’ve been able to use some of it as backings and sashing and whatnot. Oh, and that black batik is the backing for a UFO I would like to finish this year and give to my dad. It’s for the Apocalypse bargello.

Now for the designer stuff.

Most of my precuts. I’m not going to name them all because you can probably see and recognize them. At the bottom are some Asian themed fabrics. I bought those because I was going to make some little wall hangings for one of our bathrooms, but I still haven’t done that yet. I think I may still make wall hangings with them, but for donation to a charity like Love Without Boundaries or something (see the button on the right)

This is the entire line of the first round of Downton Abbey fabrics. I think that includes Lady Mary, Edith, Sybil, and The Dowager Countess. In half yards. What was I thinking? I have since learned that when I quilt, I rarely use more than a fat quarter of a particular fabric, maybe even a fat eighth or layer cake. I like little tastes of fabric.

I’m not much for Christmas fabric. This is all I have. Obviously, I need to make a tree skirt, because I don’t have one. Maybe a table runner? These fabrics are the only ones of Kate Spain I can stand.

When I said that was all the Christmas fabric I had, I was mistaken. I have this Valori Wells collection set aside, all either half yard or full yard cuts. I love the designs, but they’re so big I have had a really hard time finding a pattern to show them off. And so they sit… Any ideas? (sorry for the terrible lighting. I had a toddler turning the lights on and off and only just saw how dark this was)

Various lines from various designers. I can see some Carolyn Friedlander (just got that! Well, I preordered it in Nov and it only just came into my possession), some Denyse Schmidt, AMH (?), the Arizona line from April Rhodes (I LOVE this one, but still haven’t found the perfect project), and I can’t recall the name or designer of the bottom right.

Here are some Bonnie and Camille and Kate and Birdie. I wrote about when I first got them here. Still haven’t used them. I’m in a swap and my partner said she liked Bonnie and Camille, so April Showers would probably work. Not that a mini will make much of a dent in what I have, but it’s a start. I have fat quarters and half yards.

My Tula Pink. Like I said before, I am fairly new to designer fabric, and I am not going to fight or pay $7 a fat quarter for out of print lines, so what I have is pretty new stuff, aside from a random piece here and there I was able to get a good deal on or someone just wanted to unload (yes, there are actually people who just “unload” Tula Pink. For free, or for less than what they paid. Those people are saints.) I don’t have that perfect project yet. I’m really torn about what to do with these, actually. Part of me feels like it’s cheating a bit, creatively, to use the designer’s fabric in a quilt that same person designed, but at the same time, at least with these fabrics, I think some of the quilts Tula Pink has designed really show off part of what I love about these quilts. Some frame the fabric designs beautifully, and some really showcase the gorgeous color saturation. I’ve thought of making the 100 Modern Quilt Blocks City Sampler, but just last night I was browsing and realized I am a  little afraid to cut into some of these, and I would have a hard time choosing which fabrics for which blocks, and so on. I know, silly problem. I’m going to have to cut them up eventually!

This last photo is a bin of fabric I am never going to use. Every once in a while I try to sell some of it with varying degree of success. After a while, I just donate it. This will slowly fill as I pull out more fabrics I just can’t even see myself using.

So that’s where I am. I have a lot to use up, and that’s AFTER I finish all my WIPs!

Schnitzel and Boom Mini Quilt Swap

I’ve joined my first Schnitzel and Boom mini quilt swap! I enjoyed my last swap so much I joined this one and another.

My partner this time has very different tastes than I do, so I hope she likes what I’ve come up with.

I decided to use the charm pack I won from the Celestial Star QAL, Birch Farm from Joel Dewberry, and really just made it up as I went along. I cut a bunch of half square triangles and rearranged it until I liked it.

My partner also said she likes hand quilting, and while it’s not my favorite (I haven’t done it in YEARS and when I did, it wasn’t that well), I would like to use these mini swaps as opportunities to try techniques that I might not otherwise use.

It’s not taking as long as I thought it would, and I can see some improvement in my stitch consistency. Still, not something I’m going to do often.

Linking up with Fiber of All Sorts’s goal setting party, as this needs to be done before the end of January.

Sunday Stash!

My Sunday Stash posts have been a bit sparse, partly because I feel weird about photographing my fabric acquisitions and then talking about them (seems a bit MATERIALISTIC, eh? Get it? Get it?), and partly because I am doing a fabric fast for August. I got a little carried away over the summer with my fabric purchases, and brought in far more than I can put out. Plus, I’m not made of money, and I need to reign all that in and get back to my old “sleep on it a few days” method of discerning whether or not I really need (or even really want) a particular fabric. I’ll admit I surfed the waves of public opinion and popular fads in fabric, and while I didn’t buy anything I realized I hated, I did make a few rash purchases that I may not have if I had used some discretion.

Anyway, here are some fabrics I did really like, and liked from the moment I saw them.

Last fabric acquisitions for until at least September, hopefully longer if my self discipline is strong enough. I know acquiring material goods (haha, pun intended) are not the solution for problems, but coming home to these on my doorstep was nice after

Some more Tula Pink, because I’ve really come to love those animals, and the Arizona collection by April Rhodes for Art Gallery fabrics. Lately I’ve been thinking about what I might want to do with the Arizona collection. I am considering a medallion quilt, using a scaled up Celestial Star pattern, with several borders of either the patterned Arizona fabrics, or the solids cut and pieced into something resembling Seminole patchwork. But, that would require I buy more of the fabrics, because I only have fat quarters, and since I’m trying to cut *back* on purchases, I may need to reconsider. So far I like the medallion quilt idea the most. Not sure yet. Ideas are welcome.

Oh yeah, and Doctor Who last night. Awesome, yeah? Totally loving Capaldi.

Molli Sparkles

Celestial Star QAL update

Here is the progress I’ve made on my celestial star. I’m enjoying the paper piecing, although it’s a bit more tedious an involved, especially the cutting, but that might be because I’m new at this and don’t really know what I’m doing.

After we got home from vacation, I was able to get all of the pieces cut

Last night I was able to get some pieces put together (not much)

I’m pretty happy with how things are turning out. The host has some great tutorials and detailed explanations, and it’s been fun starting to get to know some of the other people participating.

I hope to make a lot more progress tonight, so I’ll get pictures of the finished top soon.

This is completely off topic, but when we got home one of our caterpillars had come out of it’s cocoon, and it’s so pretty I wanted to share. It’s called a black swallowtail, and the caterpillars live in parsley plants. Next year I’m planting a ton more.

Oh oh! And switching directions AGAIN, here is my Sunday Stash.

Ever since I’ve started hanging around modern quilt circles, I’ve come across Tula Pink now and then. I wasn’t sure if I was a fan at first, but the more I see her designs the more I like them, so I’ve been trying to pick up my favorites. Unfortunately, some of them are out of print and it’s been a little difficult to track down some pieces that don’t cost a million trillion dollars, and I don’t have the money to become a “collector”. It’s a real temptation, because the fabrics are pretty and I want them, but they are expensive if they are no longer in print, and when I get them I worry about picking out the *perfect* project for them, and I hope I never get to the point where I think “But I paid $$$ for these, I *can’t* cut into them!!” because I need to remind myself fabric is made to be used. Fabric is made to be used. Yes it’s inspirational, and I don’t need to chop everything up, but getting pretty fabrics can be addicting and it’s tempting for this to get out of control.

Molli Sparkles

fabric acquisitions and several WIP updates

I recently discovered a quilt shop near my house that sells modern fabric, so I’ve stopped by a couple of times to see what they have, and I have been most impressed. They’re getting new fabric in every day, and they have several classes that I’m looking forward to taking, including an into to long arm quilting (required to rent time on the house longarm machine, which I am curious about). They’ve also got free open studio time which I hope to take advantage of this week, because it’s becoming nearly impossible to make much progress on my work at home with the boys.

Here are some fabrics I’ve picked up recently

@urbanspools was having a buy four get one free fat quarter sale, and they just got in some gorgeous #kaffefassett #fabric, so of course I needed to get some #urbanspools

I don’t have any plans for these as yet, but I’m glad to finally have a few brand new pieces from some modern designers in my collection.

I also grabbed this little bundle, after Molli Sparkles showed it on his blog. These particular fabrics have been the inspiration for my progress in the Celestial Star QAL I’ve been working on at From Blank Pages.

I’ve printed out some pages to color to see what I like, and so far I think I’m going to go with something similar to this –

Of course, whether or not I actually *use* the fabrics in the mini quilt is another question entirely, but that’s really beside the point. That’s pretty much par for the course for me, in my experience – start with some fabric I really want to use, plan and plan, and then when the time comes to re-audition fabric to make sure everything works together in the pattern, I pick something completely different.

Besides the QAL, I’ve got a quilt I’m working on for my mom, and another for some friends. I really want to show both of them, but they are gifts and I don’t want the surprise ruined. Oh, and I still need to finalize the pattern and make some fabric decisions on that baby quilt for my friend. Sooo much to do..

Molli Sparkles