Tuesday, July 26, 2011

more Summer Sampling and a secret project

I'm still maintaining my "on-time" status with the Summer Sampler quilt along. This weekend and Monday I finished blocks 5, 6, and 7.

Number 5 is the Star block. I'm running low on my polka dot background, and I was unsuccessful in locating some more, so it's time to improvise! Turquoise dot background for this one. It's all paper-pieced, yielding great precision (which I LOVE) and great fabric waste (which I loathe, but I'm learning to live with it).

Block 6 is the Arkansas Traveler. In case you're wondering where these names come from, each set of block instructions comes with a little history of the block. Just click on the Summer Sampler button over in the sidebar for more information. I confess that I mostly skim over these historical bits; I'm primarily concerned with getting to the good part - the sewing!

The diamonds in this block were constructed with traditional piecing methods, and the background was added via paper-piecing. My block is a tad smaller that the 12.5" prescribed size (is 3/4" still considered a "tad"?) due to some problem printing templates directly from Google Docs. Of course a 1" check-your-template-for-accuracy-before-using line was provided, but did I use that? Um, no. Oh well, I'll just add a bit of sashing and all will be well :)

And the most current block is the Six Pointed String block. I did not piece my star triangle units as string blocks. I much preferred the look of solid triangles with my busy fabrics. I also used background piecing option #2 with 24 equilateral triangles used to compose a larger block that can then be trimmed to the 12.5" size. This one's the right size :)

And lastly, here's a peek at my design wall now. A super-secret birthday gift is in the works. Any guesses as to what this might become?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Make It Work!

Do you Runway? We do here at my house! Next week starts the new season of Project Runway, and we are counting down the days. After last season's disappointing pick of... what was her name... bathrobe girl?... the one who wasn't Mondo....? Anyway, we are anxious to see all the wacky and wonderful designs the new group comes up with.

Quite a while ago, my LQS Quilt in Joy, got a bolt of this fabulous Project Runway fabric. Don't bother looking for it there now - it's long gone :( But I snatched some up so my youngest daughter could make a bag for her sister (who is planning to study apparel design and the one who got us hooked on this TV show!) We paired it with this bold stripe and now she's got herself a one-of-a-kind handbag!!

Outside pockets on both ends sized for cell phones, keys, measuring tape...

Just the right length straps attached with fun rectangle rings...

And straight pins on the lining! How perfect! More pockets sized just right for essentials - notepad, pens, lipstick...

We found the pattern here in Threads Magazine, Issue July 2008.

This has to be one of the least helpful set of instructions I've come across. I suppose if you are reading Threads magazine, there is a given level of sewing knowledge assumed by the writers, but these were some cryptic directions and photos. But we persevered since the bag is so darn cute and perfect for these fabrics.

Once again, my youngest has impressed the family with her sewing skills. Well done, Thing 2! Great job!

P.S. Since it's kind of tedious to keep typing "my oldest daughter" and "my younger daughter", from now on I shall refer to them here as "Thing 1" and "Thing 2". It's a shorthand system we use sometimes here at the house - not that they have particularly long names, but we do all share a fondness for Dr. Seuss and they find these nicknames sort of endearing. Not to mention it's another one of my pathetic attempts at ignoring reality and making them stay young forever...

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Summer Sampling

So I jumped into another online quilt-along. This time it's the Summer Sampler Series brought to us by Swim, Bike, Quilt, Fresh Lemons, and Freshly Pieced.

Swim, Bike, Quilt

As of right now I've managed to maintain a 100% on-time average with these blocks. We are only 1/3 of the way through the 12 blocks, but this stick-to-it-ness is an impressive feat for me! I like how they've organized it into three blocks per week - one on each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  That kind of schedule doesn't drag it out too long - which always seems to be my downfall - 'cause really, if you give me 12 weeks to finish something, I'll surely wait till week 11 to start!! And maybe I won't even start after all since by then I'll have been distracted by some other shiny, new project. Remember Hammy in "Over the Hedge" or the dog (what's his name?) in "UP!"?  Yep - that's me.  But hopefully documenting it here will keep me accountable and motivated. Here are my first four completed blocks:

I'm using a pile of leftovers from a dresden pillow I made earlier this year for my Pillow Panache classes. The fabrics are a combination of Michael Miller, AMH Garden Party and Chocolate Lollipop, Erin McMorris, and a Kaufman spot in the background (that I'm trying to locate more of - if you've got any tips.)

First up last Monday, Star of Virginia:

Last Wednesday, Greek Cross:

Last Friday, Mosaic:

And just yesterday, Garden Path (my favorite so far!):

Not sure where this quilt will end up, but the fabrics sure are summer-y and fun to work with! Have any of you jumped into this quilt-along? It's not too late! Just click on the button above or in the sidebar to get started :)

Monday, July 11, 2011

make his manly

My wonderful husband had a birthday this past weekend. I'll not gush on (again) here about how great he is, but take it from me, he is. He likes to cook on weekends, sometimes experimenting with new recipes, and sometimes making old favorites. Oh, and he loves wine. Drinking it, reading about it, shopping for it...

So a couple of months ago he asked our youngest daughter to make him a "manly" oven mitt for his birthday. Apparently the oven mitts in residence here have scalloped or ruffled edges and flowers. Hardly fitting for the man of the house.

But wine fabrics - now that fits my husband! We found some fun wine and cork prints at Quilt in Joy, paired them with textured solids from Moda and Michael Miller, and then she whipped up this manly oven gear set as a birthday gift.

The quote on the mitt, "A Votre Sante" means "to your health" in French. Fitting again, huh?

Even though he only asked for a mitt, she decided to make him a large potholder too. She attached the binding completely by machine to make it more durable in the wash. Here's a photo of her first attempt at blanket-stitching. Great job!

The back of both the mitt and the potholder feature the corks fabric, so they are completely reversible.

Each one is lined with one layer of cotton batting and one layer of Insul-Brite insulated batting. The pattern she used can be found in The New Handmade: Simple Sewing for Contemporary Style from That Patchwork Place.

Her dad was very happy with his new cooking gear. Lucky for all of us, that means he'll be able to keep cooking amazing meals for us on the weekends. But I warned my daughter - once all her uncles and guy cousins get a look at these, they're all going to want a set for Christmas. Especially Uncle Peter...

Saturday, July 9, 2011

back in the saddle, finally!

I'm not sure why it's taken me so long to get back into the daily routine of sewing since coming back from vacation. I mean, it's been over two weeks already! But finally these last couple of days, I've felt that familiar joy that comes from working in my sewing room.

I realized that my long-arm quilter is scheduled to have my New York Beauty quilt finished next week, and I wanted to have another project to bring to her when I pick it up. I dug deep into the unfinished projects bin to find this top - Radiant Suns...

In late 2008 or early 2009, I had finished all the swirl blocks and sewn them into the center 6 by 6 block grid. This week I decided on the dark navy inner border and bright yellow outer border to finish up the top.  Now it measures 67" square.

These blocks were made from fat quarters and a pattern and template set called "Radiant Suns" by Cara Gulati at This was a great quilt to practice curved piecing! Each block is made of 5 different sized arcs, but there are no seams to match when joining the blocks. So you just piece each block, and then cut them all to a uniform size before joining them into rows and columns. Easy!

Here are a couple of my favorite swirls in the quilt top...

It feels so good to be back in my sewing room, to have another project ready for the quilter, and something sewing related to show all of you! And can I just say how nice it is to have beautiful summer weather and flowers to help with taking quilt photos!!

Happy weekend everyone :)


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