Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Toddler Survival Kits AKA Quilt-As-You-Go Pouches

When I made these quilt-as-you-go panels I wasn't sure what I would turn them in to.  Now that they are finished I've decided to make them into little "Toddler Survival Kits" for Baby Bee's teachers. I'll be stuffing them with  sunscreen, hand sanitizer, tissues, and of course, chocolate. Lots of chocolate.

I had a lot of fun making these, especially fussy cutting the little critters to peek out here and there. And as much as I was dreading the zippers, they really weren't so bad. I especially love the "zip ends" technique I found here from Sew Sweetness. The little zip ends keep things neat and tidy and give the bags a more professional look. See how cute they are?

A few notes on the specs, mostly for my own memory. These little guys started as square 8.5 inch panels, and I finished them by adding box corners to the bottom around the 1 3/4 inch mark. Why those measurements? Because they were handy on my rulers. Heh. 

I have to admit that I'm particularly in love with the red and aqua one. Like, so much so that I'm planning a larger quilted tote in the same color scheme... which conveniently doubled as an excuse to add more Aneela Hoey to my stash. I call that a win-win :)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

WIP Wednesday: Teacher Appreciation Edition

I am fortunate enough to have my daughter enrolled at a fabulous preschool just a few minutes up the road. She spends her days playing *hard* under the watchful eye of four amazing teachers.

In just a few weeks we'll be moving up at school, but I wanted to give each of her teachers a token of our appreciation. So this week I'm taking a mini-break from my Summer Solstice Quilt, and starting a few "quilt as you go" panels. I haven't settled on exactly what I'll be making with them. Pencil bags? Makeup bags? Gift card holders? Yeah, something like that.

This isn't my first time using the quilt-as-you-go-technique, but I think I've improved since my first mis-adventure. I took Tara Rebman's "Quilt-As-You-Go-Bags" on Craftsy, and picked up a lot of great tips there. I just love projects like this - lots of improv fabric play, and a great excuse to visit the scrap bin. I'm excited to pull colors for the next two bags!

Linking up with WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced :)

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Handmade Booties With Sherpa Lining

This week I found myself in need of a lightning quick baby present; one that didn't require time, planning or online fabric purchases. These baby booties were the perfect solution! And minus a quick trip out for the wool felt, I had everything on hand.

I have to confess that I'm in love with the end product. These booties are so ridiculously adorable that they are almost magical.  Honestly, I dare anyone to hold these pint sized shoes and not hear their biological clock ticking. I don't even like babies that much (mine excluded... well, most days) and I found myself being tempted!

The design was inspired by the timely arrival of cotton sherpa from Worthy Goods Textile on Etsy. I had ordered the sherpa with a softie in mind, but once it arrived I literally *had* to make something with it right away. The timing couldn't have been better because the sherpa is perfection here. It has an amazing pile, and As a testament to its softness, after I gave the shoes to the daddy-to-be, he kept these on his desk *all* day just so he could play with them.  

Now for the specifics, because you will want to make a pair of booties for your next baby shower...The pattern is from Little Mela Design on Etsy. You can find the "Baby Slipper" pattern here. Bonus points because it includes six different sizes (for reference, I made the "0-3 month" size). The instructions are exceptionally clear, with lots and lots of pictures. (As an aside, the sherpa lining made things a little bulky, but the booties still came together quickly and easily). The  'Sly Foxes' are from Birch's Camp Sur line, which I adore and definitely need to order more of ASAP. The soles are wool felt from my LQS, Quilter's Way, in "Pumpkin" and "Copper". They are machine appliqued with contrasting thread. And lastly, the grey heels came from a random scrap, so I'm afraid I don't have any specifics there. 

I'm happy to say that these were amazingly well received by the future father. Overall, not bad for a few hours and a couple dollars worth of fabric. :)

Monday, August 12, 2013

Summer Solstice Quilt: Arkansas Traveler

I fell in love with the Arkansas Traveler block the very first time I saw it over on Freshly Pieced.  Since then I've seen so many beautiful versions pop up in the blogosphere, but I knew I needed more experience before I attempted it myself. Paper piecing and diamonds -- whoa. I feel like I've been practicing for this very moment for months. Well, ready or not, I went for it!

As you may know, the Arkansas Traveler combines traditional piecing with paper piecing. You begin by cutting 60 degree diamonds (measured to the eighth of an inch!), and assemble them in groups of four. I went through a lot of layout variations in my head, but in the end I went scrappy.

This was my first time doing diamonds, but it was easier than imagined. I used my Perkins Ruler to show me where the scant quarter inch seam would fall, and used that to gauge where the dog ears should go. That seemed to work really well for me. I definitely still had to pay attention when lining up the diamond sets, but I only had to rip out a few seams.

Once the diamond sets are complete, they are set into the background via paper piecing. I'm happy to say that paper piecing came more naturally this time, and passed more quickly. It took me just a few minutes to do the paper piecing and trim up my four mini-blocks.

Matching up the points was definitely the toughest part of this block. I'm happy to say that my little Janome was able to push through the center seam with the papers intact. Thank you, Acufeed. That's a lot of fabric and a lot of paper, but we chugged through it.

Unfortunately, it wasn't until I matched up all the seams that I realized I had an error in one of my four mini-blocks. See that one in the upper left of the finished block? The paper must have slid on me while  I was paper piecing that bit. By the time I noticed it was way too late to fix.  I'm a little disappointed, but my sister made me promise not to go crazy making her quilt. So I'm resisting the urge to rip it all out and start over. Have I mentioned that my sister is amazing? Because she is.

Here's a little status shot of my three blocks so far. I'm really pleased with how it is turning out!

Linking up with WIP Wednesday @ Freshly Pieced, which seems extra appropriate this week. I can't thank Lee enough -- this really is an amazing block, and it comes with a perfectly clear tutorial. Always an inspiration.

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Barcelona Skirt, My Way

This summer I found myself running low on cute summer skirts. You know, the kind you can pair with a nice blouse for the office or  mix with a T-shirt for a day at the park. But whenever I went out shopping I was disappointed with what I found. Everything was either cheaply made (though not cheaply priced!), or didn't fit the way I wanted it to. So I resolved to make my own. Now, if you've visited my blog before, you probably know that I'm not a garment maker (and rest assured that's even more true after this project, heh), but I was determined to soldier through.

I just wanted a simple lined a-line skirt. I came across the Barcelona Skirt by Amy Butler and was sold.  Determined to make this a one-day project, I swung by by LQS and picked out two yards of Queen Anne's Lace by Dear Stella -- the colors and large scale print were just perfect. At which point I became fully committed to the project and maybe even a little excited... only to realize that the pattern called for an invisible zipper. Which sounded terrifying, and required a new presser foot. And, you know, an invisible zipper. Neither of which I had. Sigh.

Fast forward two days later, and Amazon delivered my shiny new invisible zipper foot and one over-priced $7 invisible zipper. I installed my zipper on the exterior fabric without a hitch (PS - invisible zippers are SO cool!), but wanted to avoid hand-stitching the lining on to the zipper as recommended by the pattern. Thankfully, I came across this wonderful tutorial on YouTube which gave me the confidence to give it a whirl my way. So, instead of completing the exterior and interior separately, I skipped the last seam (where the front panel meets the second back panel) on each -- yielding two very long strips of fabric. At that point, I followed the YouTube tutorial to attach the lining to the zipper. Sewing the lining to the zipper went smoothly,  as did completing the two seams I had skipped earlier (thereby creating the exterior and lining parts of the skirt).
Invisible zipper with sewn in lining
Everything was going great until the next step where you join the exterior and lining around the waist line. For the life of me, I could not get things to line up right around the zipper! I had to rip out my stitches a half dozen times to get it to look okay, and there are still a few puckers hiding in there. I'm still not sure what the problem was. And it honestly would have been faster and easier to just hand-baste that &^$# zipper to the lining.

That said, I am really happy with the finished product. It fits perfectly, and has a lovely weight to it. It's sturdy and feels like it should last a long time. And, thanks to the machine sewn zipper, I can throw it in the washer without worrying. Even so, I officially do not enjoy garment sewing. It just doesn't have that same meditative-mojo for me that quilting does. I'm sure I will make another skirt for utility's sake, but for now I'm happy to dive back into some quilting!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Summer Solstice Quilt: Ribbon Star

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

This week I finished the second block ("Ribbon Star") in my Summer Solstice Quilt. Not going to lie - even though I'm in the middle of this project, it's hard to keep myself focused on it. I keep getting distracted! So, I'm linking up with WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced to keep me moving forward.

This particular block wasn't too challenging, which was nice change of pace after sewing up that tricky dragon softie. The block definitely came together quickly and easily, thanks in no small part to my new Perkins Perfect Piecing Ruler. I can't say enough good things about that fluorescent yellow beauty. Love love love!

It's nice to see the color palette starting to emerge with this second block, and I've really been enjoying working with the Art Gallery's Pure Elements. They are so soft!  

My next block is the Arkansas Traveler, which will be a bit of a sewing milestone for me. I've admired that block for a long time, and can't wait to tackle it. Wish me luck!