Etsy shop is Open!

Well, I did it—I finally got brave enough to list something on etsy.  I had some good pictures of this chevron baby quilt, so I finally took the time (all of five minutes!) to put it in my shop on etsy.

IMG_6217IMG_6218

A couple of people already marked it as a favorite, so hopefully it will sell sometime in the next few weeks.  I have several other items to list as well, so my goal for next week will be to get several other things listed in my shop as well.

I thought this was a good first item to list because it’s very trendy, and I’m quite happy with the way it turned out.  If I had a girl, I would be keeping it.  So, I figure if I like it that much, someone else is bound to like it as well.  Whether it sells or not, I’m at least happy that I finally accomplished a long-time goal of opening a shop.  I think listing things will be easier for me in the future now that I’ve taken the first step.

Dr. Seuss Minky Quilt in Progress

IMG_6430

Back in the fall, my husband found a Dr. Seuss minky quilt kit at a quilt shop while I was browsing the cotton fabrics.  They had a model made and a kit for sale for $80.  The kit included the fabric for  the top of a lap sized quilt (a strip quilt).  It didn’t include backing or binding fabrics.  $80 struck me as kind of high, so I told him I would shop around to see if I could find the fabric cheaper elsewhere.  Back in November, fabric.com had a sale on minky, so I picked up enough minky for a twin sized top, backing, and binding, all for around $60.  Normally I really like to support local quilt shops and smaller businesses, but that price difference was just too much.  Besides, this way I got to design my own top using the Dr. Seuss panel, which I cut into squares.  The kit was just strips of fabric sewn together.

Anyhow, after I got the fabric, my excitement waned a bit in the face of Christmas sewing, and it got pushed to the back of my sewing room.  Recently, however, I’ve drug it back out and begun cutting and sewing.  Let me just say that it will be a LONG time before I work with minky for a whole quilt again.  I think as a backing it wouldn’t be so terribly frustrating, but it’s a real pain to piece with it.  It’s also a real mess:

IMG_6417

The fuzz goes EVERYWHERE.  In fact, it’s such a mess, that I plan to do a whole separate post about it (along with some tips on working with minky).

IMG_6443

Anyhow, it’s finally all together (if I used swear words, which I try to avoid, I would have been cursing throughout the process), and I’ve begun the quilting.

IMG_6444IMG_6445

After each step in the process of making this quilt, I keep telling myself that the worst is over, and the next step will be easier—so far, I’ve been wrong!  Each step provides its own difficulties.  I’m quilting it at the moment, and I’m having trouble keeping my stitch length even because it disappears into the top, and I can’t really tell how long they are.  So, I’m mostly quilting by feel, which is proving quite difficult.  However, I have to remember that this quilt is for my family (as much for my husband as for my boys!), and they don’t care about even stitches—they’ll just notice how snuggly it is, and it’s shaping up to be quite cuddly.

Linking up to freshlypieced.com WIP Wednesday.

Pouch Finished

IMG_6492

This is the swap package I’ll be sending my partner.  I whipped up the little typewriter zipper pouch in about a half hour and added some little fabric scraps and a couple of fat quarters as some extra goodies.

IMG_6467

IMG_6468

The gnome pouch turned out nicely.  I added some little mushrooms to the back panel as an accent.

IMG_6469

I put the fairy fabric on the inside since it’s unusual enough that some people might not like it that well.  It just has one pocket inside, and I added my label to the pocket as well.  I love how the little labels help projects look finished and more professional.

IMG_6487IMG_6490

It took about a half hour to make the little typewriter pouch, and I honestly think I like it better than the big pouch!  I liked it so well that I ended up making one for myself as well.  I could use a little pouch for my purse to hold gum, lip balm, etc., anyway.  I salvaged the zippers for these pouches from some curtain packages I had.  I was just going to throw them away but noticed the stitching holding the zipper in was really big and would be easy to pull out—I was right.  It took less than a minute per zipper.  I know that sounds really cheap, but they’re nice zippers in a pretty color.  In fact, they zip more easily than the ones I’ve bought new.  They seem to be holding up well, too.

IMG_6491

These are the extra little goodies I sent—two fat quarters and some little scraps.  Hopefully my partner likes her swap package!  I can’t wait to see which project is mine.  I’ll post it here when I receive it.

Pretty Little Pouch Swap

IMG_6463

This year I’ve decided to do more swaps than bees.  There are a few reasons for this.  First, swaps are a shorter term commitment.  If I find myself getting busy, I can take a break from swaps for a while.  However, bees continue every month whether I’m busy or not.  I also love surprises!  Most of the swaps I’ve seen have had secret partners, so you don’t know which project you’ll be receiving—it keeps things exciting.  Furthermore, you get a finished product in the end instead of a block you have to sew into a quilt.  I also love the idea of getting projects I might not make for myself.  Each person’s style shows through their projects, and I tend to get stuck in ruts sometimes or keep doing things the same way.  I also tend to pair the same kinds of fabrics together, so it’s nice to receive a swap from someone else who does things differently.

So, onto the project in progress.  My first swap of the year is a pouch.  There were three categories, and we could pick our level of difficulty.  I chose the advanced level because I wanted a bit of a challenge, and I wanted to push myself a bit out of my comfort zone.  I borrowed a few embroidery books from the library, but I waited until I received my partner info before deciding.  She had a lot of whimsical stuff in her flickr favorites, some gnomes and mushrooms, so I chose this design and already had the Michael Miller mushroom fabric on my shelf.  I had bought it just because I thought it was cute and thought I’d have a hard time using it, but this was the perfect opportunity.

IMG_6464

I also had this fairy fabric (top) that came in a scrap bag I bought from a quilt shop.  It’s not my favorite (hard to use), but I thought it fit well with this project.  My partner didn’t say whether she liked it or not, so I’m putting it inside the pouch as a pocket.  That way if it’s not her thing, at least it’s inside and not all that visible.

IMG_6465

I finished the embroidery fairly early and just have to do some quilting before sewing it all up together.  It shouldn’t take too long.  I’m hoping to have it finished by Friday so I can send it on its way.  I’m also planning to add some small things inside—maybe a very easy smaller zipper pouch.  So, hopefully I’ll get that made in the next couple of days, too.

 

Linking up to Freshly Pieced.

Ruffled Sewing Case

IMG_6436

I did a bit of sewing for myself (unusual lately) and made myself a medium-sized sewing case to hold my cross stitch projects.  I had been storing ongoing projects in a small open-top tote bag.  They weren’t fully in the bag, and the bag was open to dust and easily spilled if I’ve left it lying around.

IMG_6435

I saw this ruffle clutch pattern on the Noodlehead blog.  It’s wallet sized, but I just loved the look of the little clutch, so I decided to enlarge the design so it would accommodate my cross stitch frame.  I also made my mom one for Christmas, and hers is quite large.  The frame she uses is 12”x27”, so I made the case big enough to easily slide the frame in.  My case is about 8”x10”, so it’s much more manageable.

One thing I love about this is that it’s easy to grab and go.  I often want to take hand-work projects with me on car trips or on weekend visits to family so I’ll have something to keep my hands busy, but the tote bag was not easily portable because I had to be so careful about its contents spilling or worry that my work was going to get dirty since the bag was open.  With this, even if things do spill out of their inner pockets, they’re still contained within the bag because of the zipper closure.

IMG_6440

I pulled the fabric from my stash—the main print is a Michael Miller fabric with a Moda Christmas stripe from a line released last year.  It matched the turquoise color perfectly, and I really wish I had bought more since it was on the Christmas clearance but is definitely not seasonal on its own, and the color is so good that I’ve already used almost the whole yard this past year on random projects.  Inside I used some coordinating prints as well.

IMG_6441

For the interior pockets, I made my own design instead of following the tutorial.  It has two layers of pockets—larger ones in the back for holding bags of floss or patterns and smaller ones in front of that for scissors, pens, and smaller items. 

To add something unique, I also did a little hand stitching on the outside band with black crochet thread.  I still think it needs something on the turquoise band to set things off a bit, but I can’t figure out what that might be—maybe a little fabric flower?  I’m still thinking it over.  However, since I’m already using it, I’m calling this finished!

Woven Quilt

IMG_6389

I’ve been slowly working on this quilt (pattern from Moda Bake Shop) for several months now.  It was the first project I started after my baby was born.  I chose it because it was pretty low-key, and it wasn’t intended for any purpose, so there was no deadline.  I pieced the blocks, and then once my Christmas sewing began again, I put them away for a while.  Now that Christmas is over, and the new year is here, I’ve begun evaluating my UFOs (unfinished objects) in an effort to get them finished in the first months of the year.

I sewed these blocks all together relatively quickly.  It’s a large twin size, and since the seams are all straight, it went together pretty quickly.  Now I just have to decide how to quilt it.  Honestly, I’m kind of stumped about that one.  One of my goals this year is to avoid stippling everything as I have done in the past, but this quilt is one of those that I’m not sure what else to do because the top will overwhelm any sort of fancy quilting design.  I’m considering one wavy line down the middle of each “stripe,” so it would create a criss-cross pattern of wavy lines.  I personally don’t like heavy quilting for bed quilts because it makes them too stiff for my tastes.  I prefer a cuddly quilt, and I’m hoping the wavy line design would do just that.  What I don’t like about this option is that I see it taking much longer than it would to just stipple.  I’m also not sure I’m keeping this quilt for myself, and many non-quilters really do like the stipple design better than others. 

Any suggestions?

linking up to Freshly Pieced WIP Wednesday

My month in the 99 Bee

IMG_6153

My month has finally arrived!  I’m the last one in this bee.  This has been my favorite bee of 2012, and I’m so excited that it’s finally my turn.  These are the blocks I chose to have everyone make.  Forgive the poor lighting.  I took the picture at night.

I mainly chose this design first because I love the block, and second because there’s no way I would attempt to make twenty-four of these babies on my own.  Check out all those tiny seams.  This is a paper pieced pattern, and paper-piecing is a fairly newly acquired skill for me.  In fact, I had only tried a simple string block before this bee, but several of the others chose paper-pieced blocks, so I got quite a bit of practice.  To my surprise, it’s not nearly as hard as it looks.  In fact, my two blocks only took about three hours total to finish both.  I expected more time and more difficulty from them.

I sent fabric for my fellow bee members to complete two blocks, but only one is required, so we’ll see how many I get back.  I did two for everyone else, but not everyone’s blocks were this intricate.  Either way, I’m thrilled to have the help and can’t wait to start receiving them in the mail.

I’m hoping it turns into a nice quilt.  After I got the blocks pieced, I thought the scrappiness of the fabrics might make them look too busy, and I’m still a bit concerned about that, but I already had everything cut and packaged, so I just went with it and am hoping for the best once they’re all put together in a quilt.

Exciting News

I’m going to be featured on Quilt Story!  It’s a great blog about quilts, sewing, and crafts, and there are loads of tutorials and patterns (many of them free—my favorite kind!), so check it out if you haven’t already.

ARP_2830

They plan to feature Bennett’s baby quilt on January 23rd, and I’ll post a link to the feature when it’s up.  This is my first feature, and I feel a little silly at being so excited, but I can’t help it!

Yellow and Gray Chevron Baby Quilt

IMG_6211

You may remember that I posted Wednesday about working on this gray and yellow chevron quilt.  Well, it’s now finished, and I just love it.  I only had enough of the yellow backing for a baby quilt, but I’m hoping I can find something similar in the future so I can make a nice lap-size quilt for our sunroom.  Since I don’t have any baby girls to give this to, it’s going on etsy whenever I get the nerve (and the time!) to start listing some items.  I think it’s a little too girly for my boys since it has that flowery background, or I would be sorely tempted to keep this.

IMG_6212IMG_6213

I also don’t yet have anything in the trendy gray/yellow color combination, and now that I’ve decided I like it (I fought against it for a while), I’m itching to have something like this while I’m still so in love with the trend.

IMG_6216IMG_6217IMG_6218

I measured carefully and found that I did, in fact, have enough leftover yellow fabric for a bias binding, so I went with curved corners instead of squared ones.  I thought that would contrast nicely with the sharp chevron points.  The back is nice and swirly, so it echoes that, and it makes the whole quilt have a bit of a softer look.

IMG_6219

I love how the hand-quilting makes such a nice soft quilt.  While machine quilting is much faster and probably quite a bit sturdier, hand quilting can’t be beat for a soft cuddly sleeping quilt.  I used yellow crochet thread for the stitches, and it shows up nicely on the front to bring a little color to the gray and white pattern.  It mostly blends in on the back, which is also good since the back has such a vibrant pattern to it.  While I do hope this sells, part of me will be sad to see it go if it does.

IMG_6220IMG_6214

Low Volume Charm Swap

IMG_6028

Recently I joined a swap on flickr for low volume charm squares.  While I haven’t done a lot of reading on “low volume,” it basically means lighter colored fabrics that don’t jump up at you and slap you in the face like the more modern brighter ones do.  Most of the time, I avoid these fabrics in quilt shops because they’re difficult for me to use.  I usually want fabrics that will contrast with white, my usual background color of choice.  If I do buy paler fabrics, they tend to sit on the shelf for quite a while.

However, there are some beautiful things that can be done with low volume fabrics, and I’m hoping this charm swap will push me out of my comfort zone a bit.  I’m hoping to 1) start using other darker colors like grays for backgrounds instead of all white, and 2) really push myself and make a whole quilt out of low volume fabrics like one of these beauties:

Low Volume Loveliness

Photo from lorihdesigns.com, but I think she pulled these from other websites.

These quilts are kind of peaceful, in a way, and although they’re very modern, they have a vintage feel to them as well—perhaps because they remind me of a faded quilt.  I do love the little pops of color that stand out on the first and last quilts, though.

These are the fabrics I chose to send for my swaps:

image

This is a fabric I’ve had on my shelf for over a year now.  I  bought it when my local quit shop was having a huge clearance sale.  I got it for $3/yard, and I loved it, so I bought two yards, but I haven’t found anything to use it for until now.

image

Again, I bought this fabric on a clearance sale for around $5/yard.  I have around 5 yards of it, so I definitely won’t miss a yard sent to the swap.

image

And finally, this fabric, probably my favorite, was purchased for the insanely cheap price of $1/yard on the clearance sale I went to a few weeks ago.  Those were unbelievable prices, so I bought the rest of the bolt and have a couple yards of this print left.  It does have brighter colors in it, but I still consider it low volume because it has so much pale negative space as well.

For the swap, we cut each yard of fabric into 56 charm squares.  We then sort them as I have them in the first picture with one square of each of the three fabrics.  When it comes back to me, I’ll have all different fabrics from the other swappers.  I haven’t decided yet whether to sew all the charms together to make one quilt or to hang on to them for future smaller projects.  Either way, I’m so proud of myself for pulling fabrics from my stash instead of going out and buying new stuff.  This way, the cost of swapping is postage only—I think I can handle that!

One of my New Year’s resolutions is going to be to cut down on the fabric buying and make do with my ever-growing stash.   Especially after my recent trip to the quilt shop during $1/yard clearance, I have way more fabric than I could probably use in several years.  Limiting yourself to your stash only also creates a lot of opportunities for creativity that you might not otherwise consider.