Monday, December 31, 2012

Year in Review

Everyone else is posting a year in review, so I thought I'd do the same.  Or at least a review of stuff I blogged about :)  I finished A LOT of projects this year.  This will mostly outline the projects I completed, but I added in a few other main points. 

In January the only project I made completely was the Stupendous Stitching wall hanging from the Craftsy class (my favorite class to date, and I've done a lot of them.)  I also made a jelly roll race quilt top.  The non-highlight of January was that I badly sprained my wrist.  That sucked.

I managed to get a number of projects done this month: Pajama Pants for Kevin Headbands for Courtney,Embroidered Towel for Melissa, Butterfly Shirt for Me, Bib for Violet, and a Mug Rug for Swap

In March I finally finished the first twin quilt for Mom, made Vogue 1224 for me (love this dress!), and some snack baggies for Courtney.  The non-highlight of March was getting a retry (fail) on my bronze freeskate test.

The highlight of April was seeing my family, meeting my new niece and going on a cruise.  I also made a wine bottle bag and Vogue 1208 dress (which I was proud of at the time, and wore, but Kevin has since told me doesn't look good on me.)  I also completed a mini wholecloth quilt, my first micro quilting project- this would turn out to be the year of microquilting! 

In May I finished second twin size quilt for Mom, one of my favorite quilts ever, and quilted the colorful quilt I made for myself last year.  I also made a dress for Josefina and started a dresden plate quilt, which has since been abandoned.  I wonder where it is...

In June I started my shadow trapunto snowflake quilt.  I did all the prep work for each block andfinished snowflakes 1, 2, and 3.  This is also the month I took up rowing and the highlight: finally passed my bronze freeskate test!

In July I made a wallet, a rosin bag for Cole and snack bags for Kristen.  I also finished Snowflakes 4 and 5.

In August I finished the Jelly Roll Race quilt, did the project from the Painted Quilt class from Craftsy (love it), and finished Snowflake 6, 7, and 8. Kevin made me a spool stand which is one of my favorite sewing accessories (he says he made it in June.  I wonder why it took me so long to post).

This month I only finished Snowflake 9.  I started Snowflake 10...and then the snowflake quilt entered UFO territory.

October was a low project month because of an awesome project- we moved to a new house!!!  We had the shortest house hunt ever.  I emailed our realtor at the beginning of August that we were sort of kind of thinking about moving, and would he be willing to give us an idea of the market.  By Oct. 1 we were in the new house.  We are SO happy with it- six years in the old house we put together a wishlist of exactly what we were looking for, and as an added bonus, we have the greatest neighborhood.   In random updates, I also attended my first hockey game.

This month I finished a pair of knitted socks (well, I haven't closed the toes yet, I should do that tonight to finish them before the new year.)  And made the project from Quick Strip Paper Piecing class on it is hanging in the entryway.  We also joined a gym and I am really enjoying the aerobics classes.

The big news for December was that I switched jobs.  I am enjoying my new position and it seems like it will be a good fit.  I also did a number of projects, the Side Setting Table Runner, a fabric wreath (possibly my first pinterest craft?),Violet's stocking, fleece blankets for Violet, Rylee, Conor, Luke and Brody, and a pennant for Cole.  I finished snowflake 10 and 11, dyed my first fabric and

began Mario Quilt.

So entering the new year the projects I have in progress are the Mario Quilt, the Snowflake Quilt, and the Dresden Plate.  I have also done a few Craftsy classes that I haven't done the project yet (Jeans, Alterations, Thread Art) and would like to.

Overall, it was a good year!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

New Project- Mario Quilt

I missed the quilt-along, but I remember seeing the Super Mario quilt when it started.  Now that I've seen the final quilt, I decided Kevin needs a Mario quilt.  So during's 12 days of Christmas sale I ordered some fabric, and it was scheduled to get here the 21st- perfect, as I would have multiple days of uninterrupted quilting fun. 
Then we had a blizzard, so it was delayed.  It was scheduled to get here on the 24th.  I can handle that, still will have Christmas day to quilt.  Nope, at 8:15 pm an "emergency condition beyond the control of UPS" popped up on the tracking.  But get this- the UPS man had JUST delivered to a house on the corner.  I was pissed off, as there was no tipped over UPS truck, so I really want to know what the emergency was!

Needless to say, I didn't get to quilt Christmas.  The fabric came on the 26th while I was at work, and I got it prewashed and then ironed and starched, and yesterday I started on the quilt.

Kevin's favorite characters are Boo and Dry Bones, neither were in the quilt.  I found a Boo, but haven't been able to get Dry Bones as 18 x 18 (anyone talented want to draw him for me?)  I may put his on the back in a larger size.

Since he was only a few colors and would be easy to cut the squares for, Boo was up first.

Now that I decided it worked (but not as well as my practice piece...) I am cutting the almost 4,000 squares needed for the quilt (each block has 324 squares).  I have the star and mushroom pressed and ready to be sewn, I will probably sew them tonight.

The process.

Step 1: Mark grids on cheap interfacing (99 cents a yard, plus I had a 50% off coupon- way better than the $100 on wash-away the QAL call for, even though it does change the hand of the fabric a bit.)  This is what I spent the holiday doing.
Step 2: Lay out all the squares and press.  (This Boo is 27" x 27")  Make sure to use release paper or a press cloth, as there is a lot of fusible interfacing that may still be exposed.  I also got out my older iron.
Step 3: Sew seams in one direction
Step 4: Cut open seams (well worth it to press seams open instead of to the side, this is going to be a 'B' to quilt.) and press, again, use release paper.

Step 5: Join top and bottom piece together.  (Up to this point, I was working with a group of 13 rows and a group of 5 rows-  18 rows won't fit on the interfacing.)  This is the only step I used pins for.

This will give you a big squished Boo.

Step 5: Sew seams in other direction.

Step 6: Cut open seams (This time I tried with a rotary cutter, much easier to cut, but the smaller seam allowance made it harder to press, I won't do this again.) 

 Block Finished (see opening photo).  It measures 18.25 x 18.5- so  I wasn't perfect.  If you look closesly not everything is square, but for my piecing, I have to say, this is pretty darn good.  And quick.  I can't imagine doing these individually, and even doing them a clumps of color I would have never been this accurate.  Can't wait to see more characters come to life!

Here is what he looks like from the back.  See- lots and lots of seams, and because of the interfacing quilting this is not going to be easy!

Adventures in dyeing!

So a little while ago I got a procion MX dyeing starter kit.  I asked my parents for larger bottles of the 3 primary colors for Christmas and they got them for me (plus 10 yards of white fabric!!)  The starter kit also had black in it.

I thought the starter bottles were 1 ounce, so I asked for 8 ounces- it turns out they are like a half ounce, and 8 ounces is A LOT, so I should have dye for quite some time.  I think it has a shelf life of a year or two (but have read of it lasting up to 10!) so I'm going to need to go on a dyeing spree.

Christmas I had a good start at it, I wanted to do gradations and saw a tutorial of how to dilute the same amount of dye more and more in successive dye baths to get a gradation.  Sadly, it didn't work for me.  (Well, it kind of did on the blue, you can see it is lighter on the last one.)  But I did get pretty fabric.  There were 4 of each color, but I already broke into some of it for a fused one yellow is missing.

So after doing that, I did some snow dyeing.  Snow dyeing is when you put the fabric in a container, pile snow on top of it and then put the dyes on it like a snow cone.  The melting is what determines the patterns in the ice.  In the above picture you can see the first two I did, with Radiance fabric (half silk).  I actually like the patterns on cotton better.  I love the orange (made with fuschia and yellow), which is good because I accidentally put in two fat quarters instead of one.
I also took a craftsy class and tried a few of the folded manipulations.  The black is just accordion pleated and folded in half.  The purple is folded like a flag and then a resist is created using jar lids.  I asked Kevin to take pictures, and really appreciate that he did (his camera is confusing, I can't use it much) but I don't think he did the best job of showing off the fabrics. (The green is snow dyed.)

For my gradation, I didn't plan to use a resist, but it came out like one on the Pimatex, the technique I used was putting them in large solo cups, but one of the resist techniques was scrunching in small cups, so I guess I didn't have enough room.  I also thought this little pattern was quite funny:

And like many dyers before me, I was looking for something else to dye.  I hate the white underwear that comes in packs of cute underwear (why do they always throw in white? I don't want white!) so I dyed all of them too!  They went into the snow baths with the fat quarters.  Now I love my adorable undies.  And we spiral tie-dyed a shirt.  Again, sorry you can't see the pattern, it looks awesome!

Also, none of these fabrics are PFD.  I prewashed regular fabric- this is all from and it all dyed beautifully.  I had written what was what, but other than the pink being Pimatex, I can't remember.  So my lesson learned: buy what is on sale, prewash.  I tried the Timeless Treasures Broadcloth, the Cotton Broadcloth ($2.98/yd!), the Cotton Supreme Solids, the Premium Broadcloth (kind of thick), and the Moda Bella Broadcloth.  Everything looked great.   I also dyed some Kona I had on hand.

Snowflake quilt

So the snowflake quilt is nearing completion.  I have a small block and the big block left to go.  I plan to stipple the large block and do circuit board (square) stippling on the small block.  I had planned to McTavish, but in the end decided against it because while my McTavishing is good, I think it looks best in a complementary color to the fabric.

This quilt really got stalled for awhile because I ran out of designs and motivation.  And then a bunch of projects came along, but in the end, it is going to get there.

So here are the two squares I finished over Christmas.  The triangles have been in progress for months.  Not sure why I didn't get them done before. They weren't really that hard.  (You should be able to click to see bigger.  This one is hard to see the design.)
The loops were a design I didn't want to do, but I just wanted to have it done.  I wish I could quilt paisley- I pull it out to practice all the time, but it just doesn't look right, no matter what variation I do. 
Sadly, this loop design will always be a sad one for me.  I was interupted while stitching it by my husband yelling down the stairs- he needed to go to the ER.  He sliced his finger on the router while making a bedside table.  For a woodworking injury, it is probably best case scenario, just a few stitches to reattach the skin flap to his finger and a badly torn nail (but not nailbed, they don't think) that will have to grow back.  I'm so thankful he still has the whole finger, though I don't want to minimize the amount of pain he is in.  This block is always going to be tied to that.  Not the most fun Christmas Eve.

So, like I said two more and then the challenge of putting on the border.  I am not sure if I will do wavy joining of the blocks, but I decided not to do scallops on the edge of the quilt.  I am also really confused how to add a hanging sleeve to it (I usually use triangle corners) because quite honestly, I'd really like to show the quilt (the websites for the shows I'm looking at all say you can use someone else's design, though I plan to email the designer for permission)- we had a speaker at the guild really talk about how show quilts are NOT perfect quilts, so I figured I can try, but everything I read about attaching the hanging sleeve talks about how it shouldn't go through to the front, which makes sense, but this is quilted so tightly there is no room to just get the backing. Maybe if I put my loosest blocks in the top corners?

Next post- about dyeing!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A few more gifts

My sister's kids have a lot of stuff, so I generally don't do gifts for them, but contribute to the college fund instead.  (They are starting to get old enough to know who gifts are coming from, so I'm probably the crappy Aunt- eh, they'll thank me later!)

However, I thought the twins might like the blankets I was making this year, so I made them a set for their birthday.  They are still just getting Christmas checks though.  I was told that The Hulk and Cars are the height of coolness, so that is what they got.  My sister assured me if I monogrammed them it would be okay, and not cause fights over who got the better one.  In her words "everything causes fights, this way I can say, 'no, that is not yours'" 

I think I finally got the binding down- heavy fabric, and starch!

I actually got my machine binder in the mail yesterday.  It has a learning curve though, so I don't think it would have been ready for prime time if I received it earlier.

My sister also told me that Cole "owns" a baseball team called the Osums (Awesome- she told him he spelled it wrong, and he said he was the owner, he gets to decide how to spell it.)  She asked me if I could make him a pennant for the team.  Of course I can!  This was a fun project- I basted the letters in place using steam-a-seam, and then used a blanket stitch to sew it in place. Kevin told me I had to add a white strip to the side, or else it isn't a 'real' pennant.  This is more a vintage pennant, as the new ones are very stiff, and this one is just felt.
Turns out Cole has the flu :( so we were suckers and let him open it early.  He pronounced it amazing, and then searched the house looking for somewhere to put it.  He found the perfect location.  What do you think? 
Cole told his Mom "Aunt Jessi is the best sewer in the world.  She can sew anything."  (He also thinks Uncle Kevin can make anything...which is probably true.)  If he keeps that attitude up, he'll probably get any sewn gift he wants!  (For his birthday, he might be getting an Osums t-shirt.)

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Ready for a New Project

So awhile ago, I remember reading a blog doing a super mario quilt-along.  I recently saw it again and thought "why didn't I do that?"  Kevin has decided he definetly needs that quilt, so I'm going to do it.

The wash away interfacing used for the quilt costs almost a hundred dollars, even on sale- that would be a huge chunk of change.  Instead, I am using Pellon 44F Fusible interfacing, it costs 99 cents a yard, and I got it half off! 

This is the sample I made with it to make sure it would be okay to quilt and not too stiff once it was washed.  It is a little thick, but it still drapes okay. (And really with all those seams so close together, I think no matter what it would be thick.)  The quilting on it was difficult- it won't be easy to do, but it is manageable.

Not totally perfectly, but man- the precision on this piecing is way better than I would have ever done without the interfacing method.

So now I just need to get together all the fabrics, and then I have a big project ahead of me!

(Other big project: snowflake quilt.  Just a few left, but I ran out of motivation and interest in that one....  it will get done eventually.)

So Joann was coupon commotion so I was able to get some  good 50% off deals:
15 yards Pellon 44F: $7.43
10 yards Wonder Under: $14.95
45MM Rotary Cutter (a new ergonomic one): $8
Cheapo 4-scissor pack: $3  (figured these won't last long, but seemed worth trying)

Since I have 3,888 squares to cut out for the Mario quilt, I'm excited about the new rotary cutter!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Christmas Gifts

It is always a challenge to decide what to do for Christmas gifts.  Kids have so many toys now, and parents seem to always have so little space and plenty of clutter.  But I hate being the Aunt who never sends anything but a check, especially now that some of the kids are old enough to know who gave them what.

So for Christmas this year, all the kids are getting fleece blankets.  I just bound fleece and embroidered their names.  The girls are just 1 yard cuts- so they aren't square.  Conor's is a yard and a half.  It happened to be what I had, but also the girls are littler, so I didn't want huge blankets for them.

It was a very simple project, but everything handmade is time consuming- it took a decent amount of time to make the binding and apply it.  I can do other things while the machine is embroidering, but it does have to be monitored, so you can't just walk away.  I wish I had used a different font for Conor's name- the stitches are just a bit larger than I'd like which causes them to fold weird.  But overall it looks okay. 

Binding lesson learned: thicker fabric works way better than thinner.  Even better if you starch it!

The best thing about this project- it isn't heirloom. So if the kid wants to drag the blanket all around like Linus does in Peanuts, it is no big deal.

Friday, December 14, 2012


One of the Christmas projects I really wanted to do this year was a fabric wreath.  On other blogs, they looked quick and easy.  So I sat down with a bunch of 1" x 5" scraps (cut approximately, I wasn't too careful) and a big crochet hook and started putting them onto a wire wreath.  It was pretty easy (most of the time- I tried knotting and that was a pain, so I ended up slip knotting them with a crochet hook) but it was not quick.  I think it took me about 5 hours of my day off, working pretty much the whole time.

Still- isn't it so pretty!  I have a smaller wreath form, so I'm going to make another for valentine's day I think.  The sequin bows are hanging on our lights inside, so I added the extras to the wreath.

That wreath hangs indoors and we wanted one for the front door too.  So I made this one.

I can't decide if I like all the decoration things just in one spot or not.  This was just a cheapo wreath from Michaels and then some of the stick-ins they have.  I put them around the wreath too, and I didn't really like how it looked.  But with them all in the corner, it was too bottom heavy so I wrapped the ribbon around the wreath.  I really like that, but Kevin doesn't.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Family Tradition

My husband's family has a tradition.  An Aunt makes a stocking for every new baby.  I'm not the only Aunt in the family, but I'm the only crafty one- so I'm making my third family stocking.
This one I used my embroidery machine to put the name on- so it looks super fancy there.  It is fully lined.  I'm not 100% happy with it (I think I just need to iron it out, but I'm scared of melting the fleece) but I think it looks pretty good.  My SIL told me that the stocking needs to be pretty big, so I tried to make it big. 

 I put off sewing it for quite some time- but it was pretty easy to make.  And my machine just goes right on over the 8+ layers of fabric, fleece, batting, and rick-rack.  It is nice to not have to wrestle with it at all!

I hope they like it.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Side Set Table Runner

I have a class card to my LQS that allows me take unlimited classes for 6 months.  I try to go once a month to 'get my money's worth', though sometimes that actually means spending more money.

They recently had a class called "Side Set Table Runner" that sounded promising.  We need a Christmas table runner, so I called, and the kit was only $24, which seemed really reasonable for  fun afternoon and a table runner.

Luckily, when I got there I found beautiful Christmas kits.
What I also found is the quoted kit price didn't include the required ruler!  The Nifty Notions Side Setting Triangle ruler was another $20!!!  Grr, so much for an affordable afternoon.

 This ruler is a monster, which makes the price a litter more palatable, way bigger than I imagined, and it does nice work of taking the math out of side setting triangles, but the thing is, I'm good at math, so eh.  Still, since I now have it, I will probably use it.  I hate the whole 'cut for the cure' thing though (I don't like people using cancer to market products, which is what most of the pink washing is, very little actual benefit to the cause), which is one of the reasons I have never bought rulers from Pine Needles, besides the fact that specialty rulers are really expensive, and generally not necessary.

The very good news is I love the table runner I made.  I did all the piecing of the top at the class, came home and found backing fabric in my stash, quilted it up and bound it (binding was in the kit).  I then spent Thanksgiving adding crystals to it while the rest of the family watched football.
The kit had enough fabric that a good amount of the white and red got cut up to use in the wreath I'll blog about next.

I hope to make more of these runners- 4 squares fits our table really nicely, though maybe I'll do just 3 next time, as we roll up the ends to eat, Kevin likes to sit at the end of the table.