Pillow Talk Swap Received

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Boy, did I hit the jackpot on this swap! This is what my partner, Pam (Sewmama123), made for me.  She even sent a second little pillow along with it!  I wrote on my sign-up form that I was planning to put pillows along a really long window seat in my sunroom and that my colors in there were gray and yellow but that it didn’t have to match since I’m mixing all sorts of pillows there.

Still, the colors she chose match quite well.  She also used one of my favorite fabric lines, Flea Market Fancy (the yellow bouquet print on the back is a fabric from that line).

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Her hand stitching work is just amazing.  I think that’s my favorite part.  It’s just gorgeous, and it’s even better in person.  I’m a real sucker for hand quilting and hand stitches—they just add a really special touch, I think.

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The backs are almost as pretty as the front.  She sewed in a covered zipper behind the gray print.  I really love the leaves in the gray.  If it’s still for sale somewhere, I might have to track some down to buy for my stash.

I had heard before that this was a really great swap group, and there’s nothing in the group photo pool that I wouldn’t be happy to have.   However, this was one of my favorites along the way, and the little pillow is just so adorable!  My bench doesn’t actually have a cushion cover yet, but I’m getting there, and as soon as it does, I’ll be posting a picture with my pillow lineup!

FEather Pillow

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This is my swap pillow for this round of the Pillow Talk Swap (cute name, huh?).  This swap group is one of the ones I was drooling over when I first discovered swapping.  There are some seriously gorgeous pillows that come out of this swap.  A couple months ago, I got really brave and asked to join…and I was accepted (yea!).

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I had to bring my A-game to this swap, and my partner said she liked feathers on her sign-up form, so I went with these.  I would have loved to use the Anna Maria Horner feather block pattern, but it was just way too big (and difficult to shrink), so I made up my own paper piecing pattern.  It went “okay.”  The piecing isn’t perfect, but it’s decent, and now that it’s quilted, you’d never know there were any issues.  Honestly, I think what threw things off was the stretching on the strings that make up the bodies of the feathers.

When it came time to quilt, I had no idea what to do and ended up settling on wavy “organic” lines.  The feathers seem kind of hippie and  all natural to me, so I thought it was a nice fit.  I used Kona cotton in “natural” for the background and accented it with Essex linen in denim.  I think it tempers all the bright colors well.

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For the back, I used this natural colored fabric with a white flower print.  It’s the same as the border on the front.  I really like this fabric, and I thought it provided a nice calm background to the bolder feathers.  I bound the pillow this time, instead of sewing the edges and turning, because I wanted more of the denim on the pillow.

Overall, I’m really happy with it, and it was the first time in my swapping experience where I really kind of wanted to keep my swap item!  My partner was very quiet this round, so I do hope she likes what I chose to make her.  I’ll know soon—I finished this just under the wire, which is very unusual for me.  Cutting it so close has been seriously stressing me out.  I don’t plan to make a habit of procrastinating on my swap items!

Potholder Pass Sent

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These are the potholders I made for the Potholder Pass swap.  My partner, or rather her boyfriend, requested less “girly” potholders.  The theme for this swap was “spring,” and everything springy that I thought of had to do with flowers.  So, I just went with her favorite colors (aqua and gray), and added this yellow print simply because I liked the color combination.  The colors in the photos are a little off—nighttime photography.

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I added some hand stitching as an accent, but the insul-bright is way too thick for actual hand-quilting, so it’s just for looks.  I used an angular pattern for the real quilting in the middle, and I think it goes nicely with the wonky stripe design in the middle.  Overall I’m quite happy with them.  I even made an extra set for myself.  Unfortunately, I haven’t sewed them up yet!

Since I’m writing this post so late, my partner has already received them, and her boyfriend was really happy about the more masculine potholders!

Potholder Pass Received

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This is what I received in the Potholder Pass swap from Sew Peachey.  It was a spring theme, but since I have no handmade potholders, I just requested colors to match my kitchen, and these are absolutely perfect.  My walls are a bright-ish blue, and the accents are all orange.  I have a lot of white in the room (cabinets, trim, etc.), so I chose happy, more saturated colors in the kitchen.

I just love the fabrics she chose.  The background is a recipe for chicken soup—how cute is that?  I also really like the sprout design she chose.

She also sent a little to-do list notepad, and some little dish cloths with orange accents (I can always use new discloths).  I just loved these in the pictures she posted on flickr, so I was really hoping these were headed my way.  I had my suspicions since blue and orange aren’t extremely common colors.  I definitely lucked out in this swap!

Wish List Swap Received

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One of the items on my wish list for a recent swap was a cover for my Kitchen Aid mixer.  This is no small request as I have one of the 6 quart monsters because I make wedding cakes on occasion.  I even had to raise our upper cabinets so it would fit underneath.  Anyhow, I’ve been loving some of the covers I’ve seen others make, and I’ve always loved the paper-pieced mixers.  So, this is what my partner, Whitney of the Peacock Tree, made for me!

I just love it—the orange polka dot fabric is absolutely perfect, and I love the gray swirls she used as well.  The inside is a super-cute print, and although I’ll probably be the only one to see the inside, it’s a nice little surprise every time I uncover it.

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I got some cool extras, too!  Whitney sent an orange scraper, which matches my kitchen, and a recipe book.  She also sent a snickers candy bar, but that didn’t last until I took a picture—oops!

Anyhow, this was an AWESOME swap for me, and I totally lucked out with the package I received.  Thanks, Whitney!

Sew Sew Modern Swap Finished

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I’ve finished another Sew Together Bag for a swap partner.  This time I used Comma fabric.  My partner mentioned that she loved this fabric, and I already happened to have a charm pack.  I haven’t been able to buy yardage yet since it wasn’t yet in the shop when I purchased the charm pack, so I decided to make the lining out of charm squares, and it actually worked quite well!  I was nervous at first, but it was really pretty simple.  I think it gives the inside a really cool look, too, since the outside is more simple. 

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I used the same basic design for the outside as the last bag I made off this pattern.  I plan to make myself one almost exactly the same, except I plan to use some of my treasured Heather Ross fabrics…can’t wait.  I just have to find a little time to do a bit of sewing for myself.  Luckily, my big swaps are mostly finished, and I don’t have any major sewing commitments on the horizon.  I’m planning to make myself one of these bags and then dive back into a quilt or two since I haven’t really worked on larger quilts since the beginning of the year.  However, my father-in-law just told us that he’s getting remarried this summer, so I’ll probably make them a quilt for a wedding gift.  His fiance really loves quilts, and he’s been dating her for a couple of years now, so I’ve come close to making her one for Christmas already.  However, now that they’re really getting married, it seems more appropriate.  I’m excited to start picking out designs and fabrics that I think she might like.  The planning stage is one of my favorite parts!

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But I digress….above are the swap pillows I’m sending.  I’ve posted about them before, so they’re nothing new.  However, this is the final swap package I’ll be mailing off at the end of the month.  I think it’s my favorite swap package to date, so I really hope she likes them!

Modern Scrappy Bits Swap REceived

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This is the package I received from my partner in the Modern Scrappy Bits Swap.  It’s a cute little pouch, a needle case, and a lot of scraps!  We were supposed to send at least a fat quarter’s worth of scraps, but she sent easily double that.  I love the black and white print.  I’m planning to make a fabric basket for my bathroom, and I need some black and white prints, so this is perfect.  There are some other cute prints in there as well, and I’ve already used a couple of them.

This was a really fun swap to open up—so many surprises in the scraps!

Modern She Made Swap Finished

I posted last week about the tote I was making for the Modern She Made Swap.  It’s now finished!  I love how it turned out.

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I quilted it all over in an angular pattern, and I can definitely tell that my FMQ skills are improving.  Almost a year ago when I made a King size Wonky Star Quilt, I wanted to do an angular pattern like this but just didn’t think it would turn out well, so I fell back on stippling.  In fairness to myself, I had horrendous morning sickness at the time, so even finishing the quilt I had begun prior to that was quite an accomplishment.  It just wasn’t the time to be stressing myself out with new techniques.  However, what scared me to death then was pretty easy this time around, so that just goes to show that practice will take you far!

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I made a small needle case that can be clipped on and off the inside of the tote so when it’s stashed away, the little case won’t get lost in the huge bag.  My partner plans to use it for transporting quilts and sewing projects, so I thought this would be really handy.  I also made the straps nice and wide and padded since the contents could potentially be heavy.

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For the inside, I used a pink flower print with blue flowers that match the straps and some of the outside.  My partner seems to really like bright pinks, and I think this really pops and goes well with the outside.  I put in an inset zipper, and I was really excited to use a zipper from my grandma’s vintage zipper stash.  It has a circular metal stop on one end, so it was meant to be inset in a bag like this.  It even matched, so it must have been meant to be.

I also put in  slip pocket sized to hold a quilting book or magazine and a pen pocket right next to it so she’ll never be without a pen or, one of my favorite tools, the water-erasable-ink fabric marker.  The bag is large and sturdy enough to hold a folded up queen-sized quilt, so hopefully this will work well for what my partner plans to use it for.  I didn’t use a pattern for this, but right after I finished it, Elizabeth Hartman from Oh Fransson posted about a sewing bag pattern and just released the pattern a few days ago—mine is fairly similar, though I like the shape of hers better, and a pattern certainly would have made this a lot easier!  Oh well.  I did buy her pattern because I plan to make myself a mobile quilting bag, and although I might change her pattern to suit my own needs, it would be good to use it as a reference to make sure I haven’t forgotten anything.

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We are also supposed to make our partners a small item.  Technically, I suppose the needle case would count for a small item, but I really wanted to make her a mini quilt because that was another item on her wish list (though she intended it for the large item).  For some reason, I never see a mini quilt as a large item because it sews up so quickly—it’s basically a large quilt block quilted, and this went together for me in a few hours total.  I made my own paper pieced pattern.  I saw something very similar (I’m not sure if mine is an exact copy, but it’s close) online, but it was for a 12” finished block, and I thought a mini quilt should be larger than that, so I made mine finish at 16” instead.

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It was fairly easy to create my own paper piecing pattern.  I just drew it out on paper, labeled them all with the color of fabric I planned to use, and then added a quarter inch seam allowance around the edge when I trimmed it up.  Since I was using text fabric, I also wrote the direction I wanted the text to go so it would all be facing the right direction when I finished—so proud of myself for thinking of that.  Usually I’m smacking my head at the end of it all instead of thinking ahead.

For the quilting, I mostly followed the angles of the star spokes, but I did do a a little figure 8 type design on the black points, and I think that turned out nicely.  It was my first time trying that pattern, but I’ve been branching out on FMQ designs a lot lately, and most of them have been working well for me.  I’m starting to get braver!

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For the back I used a Kate Spain flower print.  All the fabrics are from different designers, but this print seemed to pull it all together.  Too bad no one will see it since it’s on the back!

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Now I just have to wait until the end of April to mail it all—can’t hardly wait!

WIP: Swap Pillows

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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.

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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.

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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.

Boxie Swap Pouch

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!