Thursday, January 31, 2013

an Hourglass Puzzle

Hurray for not making plans

It's been perfectly delightful to discover the design along the way.  When I was ready to make it happen, I cut a stripey square that would become my pillow back, laid it over the pillow form and laid out the hourglass blocks in a pleasing arrangement.  Thanks to Muriel's comment I'd settled on piecing the pillow front log cabin style.

Hourglass puzzle

Starting with the biggest hourglass block as my center, I added stripey hourglass logs willy nilly - just whichever side of the work would be easiest to build on to next.  And, behold!


Hey, I even managed to match some of the stripes!  This Lecien Inkwell print makes for a very busy background, I know.  But.... I dig it.  Lately I love black and white with everything.


And, I think it adds a nice pzazz to my couch!  We have colorful fabric panels hanging in this room that house a collection of black and white photographs,  each framed with simple white matting and black frames.  The new pillow actually ties things together nicely.

 my stitchy corner

More importantly, it provide totally essential back support for stitching and reading pour moi!

back support!

Although I forgot at first, I went back and dis-assembled the pillow cover to add batting and quilting to the pillow front.  Gives it some apparently necessary stability.  I finally had a chance to do straight-line quilting emerging in angles from the patchwork design.  Fun!

quilted Hourglass pillow

Well, wish I could say I was going to go spend some quality time my new pillow... but actually I'm in a cleaning mood and am off to mop all the floors in the house.  Hey, this kind of mood doesn't happen often so best take advantage of it when I can!  See ya later & thanks for stopping by!!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Welcome, Fabric Spot!

Do you live in Canada?  Well then, you've got to click over to Fabric Spot!  Seriously, you're going to love it - really fresh, modern fabrics, tons of great solids and the biggest selection of organic fabrics in Canada online. 

Shipping within Canada is $5.99 flat rate or FREE for orders of $100 or more!  Fabric Spot is located just north of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  Course, they ship to the States and internationally too, but I'm really thinking about my Canadian readers because I know that international shipping is only getting worse!

The first time I visited Fabric Spot my mouth dropped open at this gorgeous image greeting visitors from the home page.  Over 200 solid fabrics in stock and, oh Nelly, are they beautiful!  The whole site is pretty and useful.  I like pretty.  I need useful.

Take this feature.  Whether you are shopping under the Designer Fabrics (aka prints) tab, Solids or Organics, you can sort the fabrics by overall color.    So, if I'm on the prowl for the perfect shade of solid purple, I can click "main color - purple" and voila!  As you can see, Fabric Spot carries a variety of solid lines, including Kona, Free Spirit, Bella and organic solids.  Lots of choices!

In the Designer Fabrics section, you can shop by collection, designer, manufacturer, THEME and color.  I'm usually hunting for "helpful fabrics" in a particular color.  So, this sorting tool is really helpful!  I can even narrow it by color and then also by a theme such as "Geometrics" to zero in on what I need!

Fabric Spots' selection of modern designer fabrics is definitely to my taste.  Karen has much of what I've been sewing with lately....

like Chicopee (in both colorways)

Architextures (I like that she added a few Kona solids to her bundle!)

and text, text, TEXT (easily found via the Text theme!)

Karen is on a mission to provide excellent customer service.  Just email her to get help with matching fabrics.  She'll even send free fabric swatches on request!  Oh, plus, you can opt to receive an email when upcoming fabrics arrive in stock.   That's always nice!

I've got my eye on Denyse Schmidt's soon-to-be-released Shelbourne Falls. I like all the colorways in Shelbourne Falls, but this one which combines lavendar and true blue seems to be my favorite!

Well, I guess we should conclude our tour of Fabric Spot before I've dragged you through the entire site.  As of yet, there's much more to be discovered (including patterns and books!  oops).  I hope you've enjoyed our romp and will stop by Fabric Spot soon!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

made me

Yesterday I was thinking I wanted to (should) work on making a pillow cover for the stark naked pillow form gracing our couch.  (By the way, I had to buy a new form because the first one, filled with microfibers, totally wore out.  It got smaller and lumpier over time.  I kept putting it in smaller pillow covers until eventually I decided it was toast.  I just bought a new, huge feather-stuffed form and hope it lasts longer.)

Anyhoo, I vaguely desired to improv piece a cover, but somehow got roped into pulling out my triangle scraps (exhibit a).  Not sure who made me do that?  I can't really find anyone to blame.

made me.

The triangle scraps suggested that I could make a zigzag cover with half square triangles (HST). So, I spent a good part of "rest time" sorting through the scraps, pulling out colors I liked and laying them out into zigzag formation.

Then I got really grumpy.  Rest time ended.  I realized that I would have to sew like a million HST blocks and carefully trim and sew each one to make enough zigzags for a large enough pillow cover.  Because of the average size of my triangle scraps, each finished HST block would be about 1.5".  Ugh.  And, the kids weren't exactly behaving like angels at the moment.

I couldn't hear myself think.  I felt obligated to use the triangles which I had carefully sorted out.  Steam started to rise from my head. I retreated to the bathroom and had a snappity conversation with myself, trying desperately to figure out what I wanted to do.  I prayed.  I breathed deeply.

I emerged haven given myself permission to shelve the triangles and try to be happy sewing something else.

another idea

And then the triangles had another idea!  Make us into hourglass blocks of random sizes!  And figure out how we become a pillow cover..... LATER.



figure out.... later

So now I have these hourglass blocks. I like them. They were fun to sew.  They used twice as many triangles as HST blocks would use per need-to-trim.  Today, after I do some work for Curves Class, I have high hopes that they will sort themselves into a snazzy pillow cover.

Hourglass from scrap

the end.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

more Vintage Tangerine

Good morning, friends!  I have to start by thanking you profusely for the outpouring of support and advice you had for me on my sewing machine woes.  I am so, SO grateful!  I called Pfaff as per your suggestions, which led to a conversation (that Pfaff initiated) with my dealer.  It sounds like my dealer and Pfaff may replace the machine.  We'll see though - it's not finalized.  I'm actually not going to Charlotte to address the problem today as my dealer is out of town.  Should be able to find out more early February when he returns.  I'll keep you posted! 

Now let's talk about sewing!  

This week I took over the living room.  It was  exciting to move that picture, slide away an armchair and tack up a big piece of Warm & Natural batting with little push pins.  So easy.  And so, so useful!

my temporary design wall

Although my temporary design wall seems large, here it is holding what turns out to be only a throw quilt.   So, wow, a wall big enough for a queen-sized quilt would be truly gigantic!  Let me tell you - I absolutely loved working with a design wall.  It made what could have been a headache (using 6" blocks) totally fun.  It was distracting at TV time though.  I kept getting up to rearrange blocks, even during my favorite show.  I'd make a switch and Brandon would remark, "ok....?" as in, what was the point of that?  Probably, no point!

low value

Earlier this week I got a little shipment of fabrics from Sew Modern to round out my collection of fabrics for Vintage Tangerine.  They included several low value prints:  (from top, left)  Madrona Road - Wild Carrot in Tangerine; Architextures - Crosshatch in Grey; Flutter - Dream in Orange and Lizzy House - Jewels in Peach.  I really wanted to use lots of light prints and textures in this quilt to create a not-so-saturated quilt, with a sunny, bright personality.  

color, color.

To keep it light, I tried to restrain the coral to little pops of color.  I did use lots of the Flea Market Fancy orange bouquet print though, which is apparently one of my all time favorite prints.  I decided to order more after using mine up on this quilt!  That Flea Market Fancy is starting to disappear from shops... again.

a happy place!

Since you all seemed to really enjoy this collection of fabrics, I put together a Vintage Tangerine bundle at Sew Modern.  

Vintage Tangerine bundle

This 11-piece bundle is available while supplies last.  Enjoy & have a great weekend all!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Sewing Machine woes

Here and there folks have contacted me to ask how things are going with my Pfaff Smarter sewing machine, purchased almost a year ago.  Thank goodness it's not quite been a year, because that means my machine is still under warranty!  I am traveling the 2 hours to Charlotte this weekend, again, to bring my machine to my dealer for care.  Unfortunately, this dealer is the closest reputable repair man.  He's been great to work with.  Always available and repairs my machine on the same day I bring it in (which is key since it's a 2 hour drive to get there).  But... the machine has been far from satisfactory.

Pfaff Smarter 1100 Pro

In October I updated my original review post on the Pfaff Smarter.  After getting "fixed", the automatic tension continues to be a problem.  This fancy computerized feature is supposed to deliver perfect tension for free motion quilting.  And, it does... when it works. When it doesn't work, it causes tension problems for the simplest straight stitch.  A machine that can't straight stitch reliably is a sad thing indeed. I've also had repeated problems with the auto thread cutter un-threading the needle.  This has happened on multiple machines and after multiple fixes.  So disappointing. 

Well, when I go in this weekend, I'm supposed to express my serious dissatisfaction with the machine.  The fact is that "fixes" to the auto tension don't last a week. What do you think I should expect or hope for from my dealer?  A new Pfaff Smarter machine (I think this one has actually been discontinued)?  That he send the machine to Pfaff to look at (that sounds like a long, possibly useless process)?  That I get my money back (yeah, right)?  I'm really having trouble dealing with this confrontation, probably mostly because I like the sewing machine dealer and feel he's not the one at fault.  Still, I bought a very expensive machine that just doesn't work.  What would you do?

One possible resolution would be to trade the machine in for something else.  Unfortunately, the machine I want is a brand he doesn't rep.  I want to try a Juki TL-2000Qi sewing machine, which is a lot like my Pfaff Smarter (large harp space, knee lift, auto thread cutter, etc.).  The key difference is that the Juki is NOT computerized.  It just does the straight stitch. It's supposed to be excellent for free motion quilting.  I have another machine I can use for buttonholes and zigzag stitch, etc.  I just want a big, workhorse machine for quilting and piecing and using a lot.  I think a non-computerized machine is more likely to hold up to frequent use.

from House of Fabrics
The Juki dealer is a 2 hour and 20 minute drive, up to House of Fabrics in Asheville.  Anyone been to that shop?  Looks cute, but I haven't been there yet.  Unfortunately, they don't have the Juki TL-2000Qi (or any Q-series Jukis) in stock for me to try.  And, no one within a 3 hour radius has it either.  I am getting so desparate that I'm thinking of buying that Juki off Amazon, where at least I can return it hassle free if I don't like it or it breaks right away.  Then I'd have to pay for repairs/maintenance at the shop in Asheville.  It's that or buy it from the shop in Asheville without getting to try it first and with no chance of refund, just so I get a year of free service?

Rock and a hard place. 

Any advice for me?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Vintage Tangerine

Soooooo.... want to see my new quilt?

my Vintage Tangerine

eeek, I'm having so much fun!  Totally loving these fabrics and the small 6" blocks.  Can't get enough of it!

My work is inspired by this beautiful pin:

Unfortunately, the original source has been lost.  If you know it, do tell!  I found this image via Amber Carillo on Pinterest, and it has been haunting me.  So simple, so vintage.  The patchwork looks very make-do.

4-Penny Patch

Well, I'm not making-do, since I'm working from stash, but I'm trying to use lots of sweet, feminine prints and low-volume basics to create a soft, vintage feel.  I also opted for a slightly more complicated block, which I call the 4-Penny Patch  (I'm sure it already has some other name, but I like this one).  I think it looks so sweet!

working with it

More than ever before I really, really want a design wall right now.  In fact, I think I'm going to take down some art in the living room and tack up some batting to make a temporary wall.  Husband and I have plans for making a real wall in my sewing area, but perhaps tacking up something temporary will cause those plans to actually happen?  You know how that can work.

Or, at any rate, it will help me lay out Vintage Tangerine!  Will report back with progress soon!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

helpful fabrics

So, I know that lots of folks have trouble choosing fabrics for a sewing project.  I'm often asked for advice on this subject, but I'm really not sure how to give it.  I think this is mostly a trial and error game, because it's so personal and so nuanced.

That said, I was reminded this last week that I have lots of help.  Yes, I have lots and lots of helpful fabrics.  Let's talk about that.

choosing fabrics

Helpful fabrics are...

Present.  So, whether you have to go to the fabric store and play color schemes there or you are lucky enough to have a stash of sorts at home, either way you have to play with physical fabric to get very far.  When making a bundle like I did last Monday, I pull out and put away so many fabrics (sometimes the same ones over and over again).  It's seeing them together that allows me to make a decision.  And, whenever possible, I do this in natural lighting so everything shines true.

Simple.  When mixing fabrics from different collections, you're mixing art from different artists.  The more personality a fabric holds, the less likely it is to blend with ease.  Really helpful fabrics are often geometrics - dots, stripes, interlocking patterns, etc.  In contrast, floral prints can easily fall into categories (vintage, abstract, super-detailed, etc.) that don't always merge well.  And, novelty prints (birds, bathtubs, bears) take personality to a whole new level, usually requiring that a fabric assortment be designed entirely around them.

One-color.  The fewer colors in any given print, the more versatile it will be.  That's why people are often buying "textures" or "basics" that feature one color paired with a neutral.  And, when you find yourself smitten with a geometric basic print that's available in lots of shades, it can be smart to invest in all the shades.  Or, to be more precise, all the shades that you like and do not already have plenty of "basics" in at home. 

In 2012 I was pretty good about buying mainly helpful prints.  In fact, my stack of "multi-color" prints is waning.  And, when I notice a hole in my fabric color palette (like emerald green, at the moment), I buy a few one-color simple prints to fill that hole so that I have a stocked palette on hand.

Take a look at the fabrics I included in my assortment last week.  See how most of them are "helpful fabrics"?

Fabric Playtime

After putting this together, I realized I wanted to add some low volume prints in ivory and pale gray to my future quilt, neither of which I have much of in my stash.  Shopping around, I discovered a lovely taupe stripe called Ostara by Dear Stella at Intrepid Thread.  It's sandwhiched between the colorful prints in the photo below.  I've already used almost the entire half yard in my work.  I should have ordered more!

from Intrepid Thread

I also ordered these three Kukla prints, which I've had my eye on for some time.  These are decidedly unhelpful prints, with lots of color and personality.  But, I've been sketching ideas for a Scandinavian motifs quilt.  I think these colorful prints will fit in nicely.  Plus, since they are small scale, they're realistic for quilting.

Ok, I hope that was a teeny bit useful for some.  Bottom line is keep trying and be free to love what you love!  Fabric wants to have fun. 

Monday, January 21, 2013


Did you have a cozy weekend?  I'll confess, ours had some rough patches.  That flu was no easy beast to shake.  A week at Disney followed by a week of flu created an always-scrambling, never quite caught-up feeling that manifested in one cranky mama.  I finally shook that feeling yesterday, when I started a new quilt.  I really, really needed to do some fun sewing - creative therapy - after and during which I found grace to enjoy our Sunday together.  And enjoy my children.  And appreciate my husband.  I'm so thankful to feel better!


So, speaking of cozy, this is our new duvet cover.  Finally finished!  I was nearing the final stages when my friend Tammy, of Marmalade Fabrics, asked if she could borrow my Bottled Rainbows quilt for her booth at Quilt Con. Well, that sealed the deal!  I was really ready to replace our bed quilt anyways.  All that Bottled Rainbow energy has been fun, but it was time for something more fitting for the two of us - myself and Brandon. 

 Starry Triangles duvet cover

We're both enjoying the peaceful simplicity of our new bed covering.  It looks so nice with the curtains too!  Now, the only thing I'd change is the flooring.  But, hey, that's not my department. 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Emerald Winners!

Happy Saturday!  Before I indulge in the start of a new quilt (eep!) I get to announce the winners of the Emerald mosaic contest.  With 830 votes the top two mosaics are....


Nydia (the ADD-Crafter), who combined Kona Emerald with several lovely low-volume prints and my recent favorite Les Amis Star Pods.  It's a great range of values and would make a lovely quilt.  Find links to all the fabrics on Fat Quarter Shop right here

Ocean Treasures

and Ocean Treasures by AdrianneNZ.   She built her mosaic around Kona Fern, pairing this flashy emerald tone with classic navy and mixing in some sea green tones for variety.  I love it!  Find links to all the fabrics on Fat Quarter Shop right here.

Congratulations to our winners who will receive their bundles in fresh, delicious cotton real soon!  A great big thanks to Fat Quarter Shop for sponsoring our fun.

Thanks to all of you for participating with your mosaics and your votes.  You all have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Stitch Savvy

The #1 beginner book on my "Learn to Sew" list is Deborah Moebe's Stitch by Stitch.  (Seriously, I have such a list, right here).  So, naturally, I was happy to receive a review copy of her latest release, Stitch Savvy, which is a sequel of sorts to Stitch by Stitch.  The projects are thoughtfully designed to give you the skills to call yourself an experienced sewist.  And they run the gamut from Home Decor to Patchwork & Quilting to Bags, Sewing for Children and even Clothing (like a tailored jacket, friends, and knits - the real deal).  

For starters the book has some good things going: lay-flat spiral binding, a CD with printable full-scale patterns (no tissue paper!) and lots of photos.  Plus, it's a hardback.  I'm always a fan of that.  Looking inside, some of the photography kind of threw me off.  But, when I got past that I was definitely drawn to this quilt:

Paving Stones quilt

It's her Paving Stones quilt.  On first glance I thought it was improv pieced.  Doesn't it look so random?  But, turns out, it's constructed of one 4-segment block, made again and again and rotated.  How easy!  Deborah used a great range of values and nice variety of color, so it really looks so nicely scrappy.  

Well, I was pretty tempted, but figured I should take the opportunity to make something a little different for me.  So, I kind of pretended that I had made the quilt (because you know I did in my head) and went to see which projects were suggested as "next steps" at the end of the Paving Stones project.  You see, Deborah has drawn connections between each project and other projects in the book, so that if you find you like working with piping (say when making your footstool) you can easily find your way to the Sewing Machine Cover project, which uses piping too!  She's clever like that.

Turns out the "Next Steps"  projects after the Paving Stones quilt were a duvet cover (oops, already working on one) and a wholecloth quilt (yep, did that earlier this year).  Well, I'm a hopeless quilter.  Case closed.  So?

from Stitch Savvy

I opted to make this Reversible Girl's Dress!  I could use a half yard cut of Raindrop Poppies from Field Study by Anna Maria Horner and really show of the somewhat largescale print, without chopping it up for quilting.  

The pattern calls for 1-1 3/4 yards for the dress outer.  I wondered what size range the dress patterns included?  The only way to find out was to pop in the CD.  In a few clicks, I found the 10-page printable pattern pieces for the Reversible Dress with sizes XS - L clearly marked.  A little tape and scissor work and I had prepared the size XS dress template.  

piecing, cutting

Since my half yard wasn't enough, I pieced some Chicopee Bleeding Heart to the top half before cutting my dress pieces.  Used the same Chicopee print for the reversible side too.  Fun!  The book has pictures for every step.  Something as basic as how to arrange the fabric before cutting was so helpful to see, since I am not a garment sewer.  

I did find a hiccup, however, between steps 2 & 3.  The directions did not include the need to sew dress fronts and backs together along the side seams.  I forged ahead to step 3 and was going to do things incorrectly but started to wonder when I'd sew the side seams.  A quick read of all the remaining directions (yes, you should always do that first!) found no side seam sewing to be.  So... that's when I looked more closely at the picture for step 3 and noticed the side seams were already sewn.  Aha!  This is probably the obvious correct order for those with more experience!  

Reversible Girl's Dress

Well, regardless, the dress came together nicely!  

lovin the ric rac idea!

I especially liked the idea of adding some ric rac at the hem.  Lots of the projects have little "extras" at the end for an alternative look.  That's always a nice feature.

Chicopee bleeding heart

Not sure which side I like better.  That Raindrop Poppies print is beautiful, but this Chicopee print seems so very sweet for a little girl!

all wrapped up

So, that wraps this book review up.  To see lots more projects from the book and catch other reviews, check out the book tour going on now.  Oh, and on Wednesday, Deborah is giving away 2 copies of Stitch Savvy at the Whipstitch blog!

FYI:  This post includes affiliate links to Amazon, which I include most anytime I discuss a sewing book.  Those links mean if you purchase from Amazon I get a small commission, which I tend to use to build my sewing library. So thanks!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

itsy bitsy

Just a quickie post today.  It's raining buckets outside and my family is battling a flu.  Ah, good times (wink)! 

for a little baby

Still, a little patchwork can bring cheer any day.  This pair is for a sweet baby girl.  And, shhhhhhh, it's a secret!  (No, it's not mine.  If/when, it is, I'll be shouting.  Count on it!).

Heather Ross, Itsy Bitsy Spider

I love this little sawtooth star the mostest.  At just 6" square, it used up lots of my emerald scraps and a remnant piece of Heather Ross' Itsy Bitsy Spider.  Awww....

See you tomorrow!
Related Posts with Thumbnails