Friday, August 29, 2014

{the Purge} Destash + Links + Prizes

Purge buttonAre you purging along?  Show us your purge progress for another chance to win, this time from Fresh Modern Fabric!

But first, one last purge suggestion... the destash.  With just 2 weeks left until our final purge link-up, I'm motivated to finish my Purge quilt.  I only need 8 more blocks to complete her, making me ready at last to part with my remaining pile of unloved yardage and large scraps.

In quilt-land, the term "destash" refers to a flash-sale fabric event.  Typically one bundles up fabrics to be destashed and posts photos with price notes at places like Instagram, a blog or an Etsy shop.  You'd be surprised how quickly these fabrics often find a new home!  What's tired to your eyes is new and fresh to another.

 Fabric Destash!

I like to bundle my yardage and large scraps into groups by color and style.  Putting same-style fabrics together makes the bundle more appealing to just the right person, than presenting a wild miss-mash of destash fabrics ever would.  If some of your cuts are much larger than others, as in my case, note the large cuts in your bundle description.  Each of my bundles includes a 1/2 yard cut of one print, which I identify so my buyer can realize what she's getting in bulk.

Fabric Destash!

How to price scrappy bundles?  One reasonable approach is to go by bundle weight.  A yard of quilting cotton is likely to weigh about 5 oz.  So, for example, if your bundle weighs 9.8 oz or 11 oz (without packaging), you can describe it as equal to approximately 2 yards of fabric.  This is an excellent way for the shopper to measure the value of your offer.  New fabric is about $10 per yard in the States.  Probably price your bundle less than that, per yard, to increase value.

Fabric Destash!

Today I've listed 5 bundles in my Big Cartel shop.  I'm asking $10 for about 1 1/2 yards of fabric.  If you like, hop on over to take a look!  Updated:  Sorry, they're all sold out now.  If you are destashing too, share a link in the comments below.  Good luck!

{the Purge} Link-up and Prizes

Have you been purging along?  Add a photo that documents your purge progress to enter to win this week's prize.  Maybe you've made some blocks for a purge quilt, sold or donated some fabrics, cut tons of scraps into useable squares - anything that you've done recently to Purge your stash or sewing cupboards counts!  If you're participating in more than one purge effort, feel free to add more than one photo for more chances to win.

Note:  Please do not add photos that you used to enter the previous Purge link-up.  This link-up is for progress you've made since then. Thanks!

This time our prize is sponsored by Fresh Modern Fabric!  This Etsy shop is a great place to find bundles made up entirely of helpful fabrics.  These one-color basics work wonders to increase the versatility of your stash.  Unlike multi-color or novelty prints, helpful fabrics can enhance whatever you have on hand, so that you don't get stuck with hard-to-match, hard-to-use unloved fabrics. 

Alice at Fresh Modern Fabric let me choose 4 great stash-building bundles to be our prize possibilities.  Our winner will get to take home her favorite of the four!  They are:

Fat Quarter Bundle of April Showers Dots (8 pieces)

Half Yard Quilt Blocks Stars (5 pieces)

Half Yard Color Me Happy Ombre (5 pieces)

Fat Quarter Botanics Crosshatch (8 pieces)


Add your photo(s) now through midnight (eastern time) Wednesday, September 3rd to enter to win your favorite bundle.  You may upload a photo directly from your computer, no url necessary, no blog necessary. Click the blue "Add your link" button below the photos to add your photo.  Winners will be contacted by email on Thursday.  International winners will be asked to cover the cost of international shipping. Good luck!


Thursday, August 28, 2014

in the bag

an Up Parasol sleeping bag

This one is all wrapped up!

an Up Parasol sleeping bag

I ended up getting too bored to do a straight, simple strip patchwork top.  So after starting out that way, I cut up my strips and pieced them together willy nilly, with the goal of keeping same fabrics kind of spread out.  Love how the addition of Kona Lime added some much-needed contrast and a place for the eye to rest.

an Up Parasol sleeping bag

Inside I used mostly Trellis in pink, a nice basic from this collection.  Other than the Kona Lime, all fabrics are Up Parasol by Heather Bailey, which you can find in stock at Fat Quarter Shop, Dragonfly Fabrics, Fabricworm and in Canada at Mad About Patchwork and Fabric Spot.

an Up Parasol sleeping bag

We have a camping trip coming up in just a few weeks...  Perfect!

Pondering the wherefores and whys of handmade sleeping bags?  I was inspired to make these a few years ago after a particularly warm summer camping trip.  It was too warm for the kids to get inside their store bought, synthetic sleeping bags, so they were writhing on top, their skin sticking and sweating on the slick polyester surfaces.  Ew.

Light bulb moment -  synthetic polyester sleeping bags have several disadvantages:
  1. Easily too warm and sweat-inducing
  2. Uncomfortable to lay upon
  3. Made of oil-based materials
  4. Noisy (as in, you can here everyone in the tent toss and turn)
an Up Parasol sleeping bag

Since I made Liam's sleeping bag two years ago, it has seen lots of use.  It's plenty warm for our spring through autumn camping trips and for sleepovers at a friend's house.   Quilted sleeping bags are also more compact than fluffy polyester fill, folding easily rather than slipping away as a child attempts to carry them to the car.  They wash, dry, fold and stack like a quilt.  Win-win.  The only qualifier is that they are not as warm as most manufactured sleeping bags.  If you're going to be outside on a cold night, best take something suited for cold extremes.

Anyhoo, we like our quilted sleeping bags.  If you'd like to make one, I shared a tutorial here

an Up Parasol sleeping bag

p.s. Does this remind you of anyone?  Haha... I captured this shot the day before our little sleeping bag photoshoot.  Love that girl!


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

stargazing

I love this part of the class design process, when I'm finally past the "hump" of getting ready for registration and can start to feed on the enthusiasm of students.  There's been lots of chatter as folks choose fabrics for quilts and sketch out plans.  This time I've provided color sheets for every one of our class quilts.

image

Look at this capture that turned up in the Stitched in Color flickr group from miss Wendy Rabung.   I wonder, which version of the Emerge star quilt do you favor?  I'm charmed by her use of that dark red diamonds in the left-side version.  And what is cooking with her Starbright stars?  Hmm... looks like she's going to reverse the values so that the stars are light and the background scrappy.  Like!

cutting for Starbright again!

Actually, all this planning for students' Starbright Stars quilts has me hankering for another go at that pattern.  I'm planning to lead my do. Good Stitches circle in a Starbright Star quilt this September.  I indulged in a little scrap cutting this afternoon.  Diamonds and triangles... oh my!

Every time that I begin a new class I am blessed and buoyed by your response.  There are about 15 spots left in Angled class, and then we'll be sold out!  So, if you or a friend were planning on joining us, don't delay.  Class starts on Monday.  See you there!

Monday, August 25, 2014

inertia

Did you have a nice weekend?  The weather was beautiful here on Sunday, with cool, windy hints of autumn.  I kept abandoning my sewing to walk outside, and found myself checking my husband's progress on his outdoor projects instead of tending to mine...

no-binding finish

I did get Aria's sleeping bag sewn and basted.  Thank goodness for the construction notes I documented here when I made Liam's bag.  My brain wasn't up to the task of figuring that all out yesterday.  Basically at this point I'm sewing around the quilt top/back with right sides together.  The batting is basted to the quilt back. 

no-binding finish

After sewing all around, I turned the sleeping bag right side out through this large opening.  Now the batting is inside, still basted to the quilt back.  You can do quilts this way too, if you don't want to finish with binding.  It's definitely not traditional, but it works well especially if you spray baste, as I do. 

no-binding finish

Now that I've edgestitched all around to close the opening and enforce the edges, all that's left on this project is to quilt it and attach the zipper.  My Juki, armed with that walking foot, worked like a boss sewing effortlessly through 6 layers of batting and 2 of layers of fabric at the edges of the sleeping bag base.  I'll definitely keep my walking foot attached for the quilting!  

All my sewing projects lately have been like moving through water.  So much inertia.  Everything feels so. very. slow.  I know I'm not alone in losing motivation for a project midway through.  Last night I was super tempted to just start something new, but I knew I'd really be happier if I managed to push through to a finish on the sleeping bag.

Maybe part of my problem with this project is that the colors are so soft and springy, quite unseasonal.  Or perhaps it's that I'm using a collection, Up Parasol by Heather Bailey, with only the addition of Kona Lime.  It's beautiful and dreamy and Aria loves it, but it doesn't feel like I had much to do with that, you know?

I really enjoy the kind of patchwork that brings together diverse elements as a somehow cohesive whole (or maybe something that's not truly "cohesive" but is pleasing and artful nevertheless).  That's why I love to sew from scraps!  At any rate, I'm going to try really hard to choose a "next" project that lights me up on the inside. 

Wishing that for all of us!

xo,

Rachel

Friday, August 22, 2014

scrapalicious

Are you in a quilting bee?  There are lots of reasons why it can be fun to join a circle of quilty friends, but one definite perk is the scrap-busting.  My bee mates at do. Good Stitches help me keep ahead of my scraps, since in our bee we sew from our own fabric stash.  Each month another batch of blocks comes along.  I only need to make a couple blocks, so 9 times out of 10 every peice can come from my scrap collection.

::case in point::

bee blocks for do. Good Stitches

Today I'm making "framed" log cabin blocks.  The idea is to alternate low volume and saturated strings, a la Natalie's tutorial here.  First step - raid those scraps!  Since any colors work, I even dumped my gnarly multi-colored scraps on the table.  Those puppies are always hard to use.


bee blocks for do. Good Stitches

Next I sewed together low volume and saturated strips of approximately the same length.  When I'm working with funky shaped fabrics, I like to sew strips together and then press and trim them up nice.   This way I can make my cuts based on the sewn seam.  It's very accurate!

bee blocks for do. Good Stitches

Here's a peak at the basic block construction.  It builds like a log cabin block, except that Natalie asked for a 3-piece center (bottom right) and that each "log" is a 2-part low volume/saturated piece. 

bee blocks for do. Good Stitches

I'm really glad I thought to pull out those multi-colored scraps.  They were fun and easy to use here!  Since our Love circle quilts go to children, all the houses, mice and rabbits are sure to be appreciated.

bee blocks for do. Good Stitches

Our blocks could end at any size.  Today I made these two small blocks...

bee blocks for do. Good Stitches

and this big ol' one. 

Thanks for another scrappy-fun project, Love circle!  With all the different-sized blocks and bright colors, this quilt is sure to be another success.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

on fancy Light bulbs

Months ago I was contacted by a company who wished for me to test and review their light bulbs in my sewing space.  Seriously... light bulbs.  Usually these type of offers are not a good fit, so I turn them down.  But, while light bulbs are not a terribly exciting topic, they are something we use every day.

This is the part of her email that really got my attention, "Research shows (and our consumers know) that our lighting products reduce eye strain/fatigue, allow colors to appear truer than conventional lighting, as well as elevate mood and energy."  Hmmm?

Verilux light bulb review


I responded, "I hate to use artificial lighting of any kind as it certainly does alter color perception.  Unfortunately, on cloudy days it's necessary.  It would be wonderful if your lights could help.  A few questions:
 

Is there a large difference between your light technology and light bulbs one buys at hardware stores that are sold as "daylight balanced"?  I currently use daylight balanced bulbs by Utilitech in the recessed lighting that is throughout my sewing workroom."

By the way, when I switched to "daylight balanced" bulbs I had noticed an improvement in the way colors appeared under the lights.  I still could tell that my color perception was "off" under artificial lighting and would always wait for sunlight to choose fabrics for a project.  Also, I tend to keep lights off during the day.  I so much prefer natural light patterns and even shadows.

Heather from Verilux responded in detail to my inquiry.  In case you are an information junkie like me, I'll copy and paste the details. But, the gist of it is that their lights are indeed more "true" than daylight balanced bulbs:

Daylight-balanced lights generally fall in the 5000/5500K range and ours are closer to 6500K, which is the temperature of actual daylight. That means our light is a bit closer to actual daylight than most "daylight balanced." When light temperature is much lower or higher than daylight, you get color distortion (either of reds or blues). 



This picture highlights the difference in how colors appear under typical incandescent vs. Verilux bulbs. In case you don't know, one great way to make a choice for lights you want to use for photography is to check out the CRI (color rendering mix). Verilux bulbs have a CRI of 85. Professional photographers who use supplemental light consider anything 90 or higher acceptable, so we are very close to what is used on photo shoots.

I decided to try Verilux flood lights for my sewing room recessed lighting.  There were some hiccups with my shipment(s), as a few bulbs kept getting broken in transit.  Since it happened twice in a row, we're thinking my UPS driver may be at fault.  Anyhoo, Verilux was happy to replace them, which they would do for any customer.  They have a 30 day product guarantee. 

So, what do I think?  They make a difference.  I actually chose fabrics for Tangential at night under my Verilux lighting with total confidence.  And, you know that was a pretty important project to me!  I can tell that these lights don't distort color.  Here's an example:

Verilux light

natural light

Neither of these photos have been color corrected in any way.  You can see that the colors are virtually identical.   The shadows and bright spot reflections created by artificial recessed lights still make them less than ideal for photographs, but the color is a great improvement.

The other difference is that it actually feels good to have the lights on.  As I mentioned, I usually prefer to be in dim natural light than fake light.  With these bulbs, it's different.  I turn on the lights during the day in my sewing room, whether sewing or typing or cutting.  They feel so bright and cheerful, almost just like sunshine.  I didn't expect to notice or care about that, but I do.

Well, if you have any questions, do let me know.  Verilux had a lot of lighting products other than bulbs, so if you need a lamp for desk work or task lighting by a chair you may want to take a look.  Hope this has been helpful!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

back at it

Guess what I got to do this morning?  Sew! 

With all the class prep lately, I haven't been indulging in much relaxing, for-fun sewing.  (Thanks so much for your response to Angled, by the way!  Camp sold out in about 24 hours and the regular version is heading that way too.  I'm so grateful you're on board!)  Today my young friend Ashley joined me for a few hours of purge-along cutting, sewing and pressing.

my young friend


Do you know about Ashley?  She's part of the amazing family that's farming in our backyard this year and for many to come, if we're lucky.  When we can, Ashley comes inside to sew with me.  I'm teaching her some quilting skills, and she's helping me get more done.  It's a win-win!  I certainly enjoy her company, too.

purge-along

Today as I cut and paired fabrics, Ashley sewed them up.  It was a great opportunity to practice her 1/4" seam allowance.  I took your advice to focus on cutting into my unloved fabrics yardage rather than pulling mostly from scraps.  Going this route actually saves time too, as we get to do more strip piecing.

little 4-patch blocks

I could barely keep up with the pressing and cutting to keep her busy.  We made all these little 4-patch blocks!

purge progress

And then I joined them as Purge quilt blocks.  Nine in all.  Pretty nice!

Ok friends, I think I want to make my purge quilt into a picnic quilt for a friend.  But that means I need a million!  (The actual amount I need is too large to face at this point.  Best save those calculations for later...)  I need to get moving on this quilt!  The final Purge link party is September 12th.  I have a feeling that's going to be here before I blink twice.

xo,

Rachel
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