Archives for February 2013

WIP: Swap Pillows


I’ve recently joined the Modernista Homemade (a sewing swap), but this one is a bigger swap, so the finished items we send are more involved.  There are fewer of these swaps around to join partly because they take longer and are more work.  The zipper pouch and small swaps I’ve been joining are fun, but they’re over so quickly because the items are small and less time-consuming projects.

In this swap, we make one large item for the living room (the theme for this swap), and one small item of our choice, both made to suit our partner’s tastes.  My partner requested a set of pillows for her sofa, so I’m working on making those first.   She had a picture of cathedral windows in her swap mosaic picture, and then I found several other pictures like that in her favorites.  I’ve made a practice swatch of these before, so I decided to go with that.


At first I was planning to make the entire pillow out of that, but cathedral windows involve a lot of hand sewing, and since she wanted two pillows, I thought I would do them for part of the pillow and then add other fabrics to finish out the pillow.  It also uses a lot of fabric (two pillows would have taken over six yards of the solid gray!), so I thought an accent piece might be better.  As it is, my accent piece will be just over a third of the pillow front in the middle.

I love the color combo I’m using.  She told me about the colors in her living room, but it’s hard to know what shades are there, so the blue might be too dark, but I still love the way it looks, so I’m just going with it.  I don’t think pillows like these need to be matchy-matchy with the room décor, anyway.  Sometimes I think it looks better if accent pieces like this stand out.


I’ve learned a few things about cathedral windows this time around.  When I did my little swatch a while back, I only put fabric in the “windows” and didn’t use the extra square underneath.  In this piece, I’ve used two different fabrics, and it’s a bit trickier to keep raw fabric edges from showing on the orange.  I’m not sure how stable this would be if it were to be washed repeatedly.  To fix that, I’m planning to stay stitch at the points where they’re peeking out and then sew a button on top to cover up the stay-stitching.  I improved this  a bit on my second piece, but I still think you’d have to do some fancy fabric folding to prevent raw edges on something like this.

I’ve also learned that I simply do not have the patience to make a large quilt like this.  I’ve always wanted to as I love cathedral windows, but I just despise the pressing/ironing part when folding the fabric.  The hand sewing part doesn’t bother me a bit, but I’m SO happy to have all of that ironing done!  So, as a compromise, I might make myself a pillow like this sometime.

Modern Scrappy Bits Swap


After checking out the favorite photos from my partner in the Modern Scrappy Bits Swap, I thought she had more traditional tastes rather than liking super-modern, funkier things.  So, I decided to make my pouch for her a little more shabby chic, and I really like what I ended up with!  I bought the flower print from the scrap bin at my LQS a few months ago and never really found anything to do with it since, while I like it (or I wouldn’t have bought it), I don’t have much to go with it.  I do love the way it looks with linen, though, and it just happened to match the green stripe from Bonnie & Camille’s new line.


After that, I added some crocheted details and an embroidered monogram to the top.  I free-handed the letters instead of tracing something from the computer, and I’m happy with how they turned out.  I wouldn’t mind having something like this for myself, actually, but these days the last thing I need is another pouch!  I might make a bag sometime, though.  I do love how the crochet and embroidery look with this linen.


I lined the pouch with the green stripe, but there’s nothing really fancy on the inside—just a plain lining.  I didn’t think a pocket inside would be easily accessible since it poufs out at the bottom.  I made up this pattern, and the size is completely based on what I happened to have in my scraps—every part of this pouch was made from scraps, so I thought it fit the swap well.


For good measure, though, I’m also throwing in this little pouch.  I made this using Oh Fransson’s QAYG method, but followed the tutorial for the flower design found here.  Honestly, I’m not too happy with how mine turned out.  the quality is fine, but I’m just not a fan of how my colors turned out.  I think it would look better using colors right next to each other in the rainbow so the fading looks a little more natural as it goes from one color to another.

In the tutorial, she uses canvas duck and puts batting all the way out to the edge.  This makes for a VERY stiff panel.  If I were to do it again, I would only put batting inside the seam allowances to make the seams less bulky, and unless I wanted it to be super-structured, I would just use quilting cotton on the back instead of the canvas.  For a little pouch like this, it doesn’t need that much structure, and all that quilting makes for a pretty stiff piece anyway.  I made this as a practice piece for a pillow, and that turned out better, but I’m still not sold on the look.  It also eats up a lot of fabric because the pieces overlap multiple times, so there is lots more fabric here than you see in the finished project.  Still, it was a good learning experience, and I may do something like this again, but it’s most likely not going to be one of my go-to items in the future.


I’m entering a giveaway for this super cute Heather Ross bundle, and for an extra entry, I can mention it on my blog.  Check it out here.

Quilt-As-You-Go Pillow


Oh Fransson’s QAYG method has turned into a sweeping trend lately, and I’ve wanted to give it a try myself for a while.  I recently saw this pillow by Let’s Eat, Grandpa, and I just fell in love with it, so I decided to try one of my own.   However, I’m just not in love with my finished product.  It’s okay, but it’s not something I’m really happy with. 

I think there are several problems with my pillow:

1.  I think I chose the wrong colors.  It would look like a more natural, fading progression if I put the colors in the order of the rainbow.  If I had done red-orange-yellow-green-blue, for example, it would look more natural.  Instead I skipped over three colors and went straight to blue.

2.  I think I didn’t sew on enough strips.  I got really tired of this technique about the time it switched to blue, so I started using bigger pieces.  It also became increasingly difficult to cover all my raw edges, so it just doesn’t have the same layered look as the pillow I was trying to recreate.

3.  I really didn’t care for this technique, and it shows.  It’s not hard, but it’s labor intensive and repetitive.  You cover up a LOT of your fabric with each new piece, so there’s a lot of sewing work and fabric that you don’t actually end up seeing.  This might be because I’m bad at mental geometry and can’t visualize well where I need to put each new piece.  My not liking it has to do more with me than with the pattern.  I think the end result can be beautiful, but I’m just not sure I have the patience for it.


That said, the individual parts are quite pretty.  I just need to do things differently if I attempt this again.  I made this around the same time I made a small pouch version.  On the pouch version, I used the canvas duck fabric, but I thought that was too stiff for a pillow, so I just backed this one with muslin, which was a good choice in the end.  Perhaps I’ll try this one more time, changing some things and not expecting to finish it in a timely manner.  This might be one of those things that I need to pack up and put away a few times before I finish it.

Modern Scrappy Bits Swap Pouch In Progress


I recently joined another pouch swap.  In this swap, though, along with our pouches, we also send approximately a fat quarter’s worth of scraps.  I also chose to make my pouch out of scraps, and this is the beginning.  My partner’s tastes seemed to be a little more traditional, and she had a lot of shabby-chic style pictures in her flickr favorites, so I decided to make it a little less bright and colorful.

I added some crocheted lace, a flower, and I plan to embroider her initials on the right.  The pouch has a pleat in the front and back, and I plan to round the corners and sew it so that it poufs out to make a different shape than your average square pouch.  I’ll probably add a wrist strap as well—why not?

This has actually been quite fast to sew up.  I made my own “pattern” based on the sizes of scraps I had, but I think it will end up being about 7 inches wide and 10 inches tall by the time it’s finished.  That’s a good size for a small sewing project or a little makeup bag.  It should hold a bit more, too, because of the expandable bottom.  I’ll post a new picture once it’s finished!

Stash Bee February

Stash Bee is the only bee I’m currently participating in.  As it is, it goes until the summer.  Here are my blocks for February:


She requested a wonky star and a wonky log cabin.  I think this will make a really nice quilt.  She says they’re for charity quilts for teenagers.  So, I chose bright happy fabrics.

I must say, I’m quite enjoying my “break” from bees.  I was doing three per month for all of last year, and it got to where I didn’t look forward to it, or I left it until the end of the month and had to make myself do them.  Part of that was being pregnant and not feeling well, but I do think that three was just too many and made me feel a bit overwhelmed.  I also don’t like the stress of a very long term commitment (1 year plus).  I’ve been joining swaps this year and am loving them so far—smaller time frames, so if life starts to interfere, I can just stop joining for a while.  I also like how the swaps are allowing me more creativity—more choice in how I make things, and I get to finish something instead of just sending off a block.  That said, I’m enjoying this bee more now that it’s my only one at the moment.  I hope the lady of the month likes these!

Bennett—4 months old


These photos were taken about a week late, but we all had colds when he turned 4 months old, so this will have to do.



This was the most difficult monthly photo session yet.  He’s just old enough that there were so many distractions—his own feet, the teddy bear, and the little assistant photographer who kept wanting to give hugs.



And for real-life family/friends, here’s a little growth progression:



Boxie Swap Pouch


I’ve joined yet another swap…I’m addicted.  I think I’ll be a little more selective on which swaps I join from now on—after all, one can use only so many pouches.  Still, I’ve had quite a bit of fun making swap pouches lately.  For this pouch, I used a free pattern from craftsy.  It’s a boxie pouch, and it will really hold quite a bit.  I love how wide it opens when it’s unzipped.  I think I would like this better for makeup than the traditional style makeup bags.


I lined it with a Denyse Schmidt print from Joann’s that I had on my shelf.  I was going to hand quilt with white thread but decided to use red at the last minute, and I think that’s my favorite part of the pouch.


I just lucked out that the placement of the patchwork and stitching worked well with the seams in the pouch.  I had never used this pattern before, so I was kind of flying blind, but it worked out great in the end, so at least I won’t have to redo anything.


The other cool feature about this pouch is that it stores flat—what a space saver!  I won’t be mailing this off until the end of February so my partner can still enjoy some suspense for a while.  I’m one of the first to finish in this swap, and it’s never good to end the fun too early by finding out who your partner is.  Half the fun is guessing which project is yours!

Happy Valentine’s Day!


This year my almost-three-year-old little boy is in a toddler class, and they passed out Valentines at school.  Unfortunately, he was sick last week and not in school, so I didn’t get the paper sent home about it until the day before…and I hadn’t even thought about Valentine’s Day at school, or I probably would have realized I should pick up something.

So, I came up with these at the last minute, and I think they turned out really cute.  I already had the baggies.  I had bought them previously to package cookies.  I picked up a bag of Rolos from CVS down the street, printed off these bag toppers that I made in Photoshop, and we had instant Valentines!

Damon helped me put Rolos in the baggies, but that proved to be a difficult task for him because he kept wanting to eat them instead.  He finally got the hang of it, though.  Damon loves Curious George, so I went with that theme—he kept looking at them saying, “Non-kee!  Non-kee!”  He’s not too much of a talker yet, but that means “monkey.”

Since these were so easy (and cheap!  $3 for a bag of candy plus supplies we already have), I’ll probably do this in upcoming years.  I have always wanted to do decorated cookies in the bags, and if I have a little more warning next time, I’ll probably do that, but this worked well in a pinch.

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!

WIP: Fandango Wonky Stars


I’ve had some Fandango fabric by Kate Spain sitting on my shelf for about a year now.  It was one of the first designer fabrics I fell in love with over a year ago when I first really got into quilting.  I’ve been saving it for just the right project—but you know how that goes, it rarely comes along before you’re out of love with the fabric.  Well, in this case, I still love the fabric, but I decided to use it while I still get butterflies when I look at and touch it.

I’ve loved wonky stars since I first made them, so I came up with a very basic quilt plan for these fabrics.  If my calculations are right (and I hope they are!), I should have just enough fabric to make this work.


My original plan was to make 42 blocks like the one above and then sew them together without sashing.  However, I’m now considering a 2” wide strip of the beige background fabric in between.  I’ll have to sew up a few more blocks and play around with them a bit before I decide.  Any opinions?  I plan to hand quilt in brown perle cotton around the outside of each star.  I’m not sure if I’ll hand quilt the entire thing or just around the star.  Hand quilting is quite a bit of work, but I think this fabric lends itself to some hand quilting.  I could also enter it in the fair under the hand-quilted category, so that might be kind of nice.  I won that category last year (mainly because there’s not much competition in the hand-stitched category!), so it would be nice to have something to enter again.

I plan to use this as a queen sized bed quilt, and I do love the softness that hand-quilting gives to bed quilts.  It’s something to think about.  I’m not sure I could finish this in time for the fair anyway.  42 blocks (maybe a few less if I add sashing) will take quite a bit of time, and that’s not even taking the hand-quilting into consideration.