Friday, September 28, 2012

Wonky Pinwheels

This month's blocks for the Love circle @ do.Good Stitches were designed by Natalie of Greenleaf Goods. Her tutorial to make these wonky pinwheel blocks was great, and I really like the design. The colors she chose were warm and rich reds, oranges, yellows, browns, and purples. Just perfect to start off autumn!

These blocks were actually quite a challenge for me, not because of the piecing but because of the colors! It's funny that I really love all of these colors, especially in combination, but I don't really have many of them in my stash. I managed, but I definitely don't have the pretty pinky purples that I think look so nice in Natalie's blocks. I gravitate towards cool colors, that's for sure. Even my yellows are on the cooler side of yellow. Hmph.

I managed, though. Instead of mixing up my neutral backgrounds, I wanted to try two blocks with different neutrals - one linen and one kona snow. I hope these will play well with the other blocks everyone comes up with. The quilt is sure to be a stunner.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Scrappy Scarf

I've seen lots of versions of fabric scarves floating around the interwebs and have wanted to make one ever since I started sewing again. I even have a few cuts of voile and flannel destined for this purpose. But! Turns out for my first one, I had some perfectly sized scraps left over from the Caribbean Blue quilt construction. I love a happy coincidence.

I had a loop of 8" wide rectangles (of voile) sewn together that was about 46" in circumference. I tried, and this was a bit too short for going around my neck twice in a cowl-y sort of way so I picked apart one seam and added another rectangle of solid from trimming the quilt back to bring the length up to about 54". I've got some yardage of a Midwest Modern print (regular quilting cotton) from Amy Butler that happens to be the right colors to play well with the Soul Blossoms prints I have so I cut a couple of 8" x width of fabric strips and made a strip for the back that was long enough to match the voile piece I had for the front. 

All it took was two straight lines of sewing to make a long tube, some ironing to smooth it all out, and a little bit of hand sewing to close it up. A quick project for sure, but it is soooo nice. I really like the patchwork combination of prints on the one side, it makes it different than most of the ones I've seen. I think this is best to do with voile or a similar lightweight fabric so the seams aren't bulky and less flexible than the rest of the scarf. Regular cotton might do that, as would flannel. Despite the seams, this scarf has a nice drape but still can hold itself up because of the quilting cotton. I don't think I'd try making both sides with the lighter voile, it would be pretty limp. This is going to go in my box of Xmas gifts. Yay for me getting an early start.  

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Flannel fun

When the ladies at the Purl Bee posted this crochet-edged flannel blanket project, I immediately filed it away for later. (i.e. Pinned it.) Who doesn't love a quick project like that?

Some dear friends of ours welcomed a little girl into their lives at the beginning of September, and it's high time I got something made for her. I took a piece of cute printed flannel I've had for a while (since my nieces were little) and decided to try out the crochet edging. 

My guess is the flannel in the tutorial is a bit looser woven than this stuff because boy howdy my hands got tired quick. The hook I used (size D) is also a bit bigger than the one recommended (size A) but this was the smallest one I had on hand. It's a little bit fiddly going, much slower than I'm used to crocheting but I like the way it turned out. 

The single layer of flannel (32" x 42") will be a perfect light cover up for the California days, which don't get too cold, and maybe a nice companion for snoozing at night. I hope she enjoys the colorful little characters, and her little fingers find interest in the textured edges. Now to make an animal or something to go with!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Serendipitous Scraps

Sometimes it just makes sense. 

Why not wear your favorite prints all the time? 

The night I trimmed my Caribbean Blue quilt top down to size to fit the back, I ended up with a bunch of strips of random sized triangles. Boy these are going to be fun scraps! I took one of the smaller ones and roughly using Amy Butler's free pattern, made this fabric necklace. It calls for rayon, but really the voile worked great, too. Quick, simple, fun! I wore it to work already, and felt fantastically accessorized. 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Hustle buns

This is what my brother's little league coach would say to the team as they came in from the field. I don't know why it has stuck with me, but it is perfect to describe the end of year crunch that inevitably precedes the holidays. Today there are 100 days left in the year. I know, right? Where did the time go. There is this great link up/support group (ha) over at Kelsey Sews that I think will be fun! It's called the 100 Day Hustle and will be a great way to stay motivated to finish up projects by the end of the year.

Kelsey Sews

I've been lucky enough to have cleared a lot of wips off my plate recently, so most of my list is going to be new projects that I want to get done or in some cases just started.

Hand stitching:

Modern Medallion quilt - hand quilting
Embroidery hoop kit - start

Yarn work:

Portland cowl - finish
Aidez sweater - knit enough to know if I want to keep going
scrap yarn blanket for donation to animal shelter - start
Temair throw - finish already! (sew motifs together)

At the machine:

Covered bead necklace for me - start & finish
Stuffed animal for baby girl - start & finish
Garment bag - finish
Riding boot bag - start & finish 
Amsterdam quilt top - start
Baby quilt for Anna - start, finish by February
Flannel pjs for me - start & finish
Voile/flannel scarf - start & finish (Xmas)
Apron - start & finish (Xmas)
Tote for Samara - start & finish (Xmas)
Pencil roll up for Jasmine - start & finish (Xmas)
Laminated cotton tote for barn - start & finish (Xmas)

This is pretty ambitious, but I think I might get through most of it since a lot are smaller projects. Check out the linky, add your list, this'll be great. Here we go! 100 days and counting.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Caribbean Blue: the finale

It has been quite a while since I've worked on this. I have to say, though I super duper like the final product, I did not especially enjoy piecing this top. I got the bulk of the top done back in May but got frustrated with the wonkiness of my growing rectangle and inability to measure accurately in the space I had, so folded it up, made a face at it, and put it away for the summer. After finishing up Steve and Egle's picnic quilt, I cleared off the card table and wondered 'what's next?' I consulted my list of projects in progress and projects I want to try out some day, and I noticed this quilt at the top of the "in progress" list. Aww shucks.

I pulled out what I had already, ironed it, and spread it out on the floor again. The final size is supposed to be 68" x 72"and so requires some piecing of backing fabric, which I did purchase and have waiting in the wings. Instead of continuing with adding more strips to the top, I decided to just take my two yard cut of solid for the back, lay it out to see if it would fit what I had already, and call it done. I only needed to add one more strip of fabric to finish out one corner. Hah! A finish in sight. I had some leftover batting pieces trimmed from other projects, so I zigzagged a couple of them together, and that determined the final size of my quilt which is something like 55" x 66" (the batting was slightly shorter than 2 yards). Weird I know, but it's actually a pretty good sized throw. I've tested it out already. A little bit of simple stitch in the ditch to quilt, some binding, and voila. And on a Wednesday night, no less!

This thing is SOFT! The whole thing except the binding is made with cotton voile which is somewhat slippery to work with for 1/4 inch seaming, but completely worth the extra effort. This was the first time I bought a substantial amount of prints from any collection (that certainly started a trend - ha!). I LOVE the Soul Blossoms fabrics. Pretty much all of them. The prints are just my taste, and the colors are all great but especially these yellows, greens, and blues. So I splurged. It is made with Amy Butler's free Sun Glow Quilt pattern which has turned out beautifully, just the construction technique is not my thing.

I have a few pieced strips left over that might turn into some fun projects, and I have about a quarter yard of each print left for me to hoard until the perfect idea comes along. For now, I'm going to enjoy cuddling under this quilt an awful lot.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Pedals, Polka Dots, and Patchwork complete!

Well that was fun. I had a really great time with this quilt from start to finish. The fabrics and colors are bright and quirky, and I will remember the shop in Portland where I got them with fondness. Ah a house full of modern fabrics... how awesome. Also, this is the first time I struck out to design (I use the term loosely) a quilt of my own. It's not like the patchwork blocks are anything new, but even though it is simple I hope I added some of my own (developing) style into this top.

The backing print from Ikea was quite a find. It was on great sale and the gray and geometrical feel are perfect. I'm picky about my grays, too. I quilted enough to hold everything in place, but not so much that the quilting added to the busy-ness of the front. The diagonal lines through the blocks with a straight shot across the linen stripes was actually Dave's idea! I was going to do both sets of diagonals, but when I finished this first direction I liked how it looked like lanes on a road to me. The bikes have somewhere to go! Kudos to him as well for modeling.

I finished it all off with binding in Metro Dots. I didn't realize how much I like this print. I could certainly use a set of all the colors! Zigzag binding a la Rachel made fast work of the binding; I finished up after work one evening and have been waiting for free time with sunshine to take pictures. The wedding isn't for a week, so I get to have this lovely thing cheering up my home for a bit. Lucky me! Also, preview below of another exciting finish from this week. Woot.

Update: linking up to Sew Modern Monday

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Patchwork Progress

I finished the top to my latest quilt project. That makes it about halfway through September, and I've got another two weeks to go before it needs to be done. I love the simplicity of square patchwork because it's fast, and it also is great to feature a lot of favorite prints. The Aviary Picnic Patchwork quilt I made was a super simple combination of linen and "Aviary 2" from Joel Dewberry. Here I added another layer of interest by making 4-patches and 9-patches, and I mixed and matched a bunch of prints using the Bike It fabric from Birch Fabrics "Commute" as inspiration.

Originally, I planned to do an 8 by 8 grid of blocks but when I had it all laid out on the floor it was too busy. I was kind of disappointed. I had mocked it up in Powerpoint to be sure my patchwork patterns were well mixed, but what I did not have in that sketch was the prints. Turns out a lot of my prints are of similar scale, and the squares in the 9 patches especially are about the same size as the bicycles on the feature print. I think this is why everything was getting lost.

My solution? Linen! That wonderful neutral yet rugged and textured giver of negative space. I took out my last row of blocks to save for later (yeah leftovers!) and in its place added two horizontal sashes of linen. Now everything is popping, especially those bicyles. It's amazing what even just a little bit of solid does to a design. I'm learning all the time!

Last Friday we popped into IKEA to wait out rush hour traffic on the way home and I found this great print on sale in the fabric department. Only 8 dollars for enough fabric to back a quilt? Why yes, please.  It's even a little bit heavier weight, more like a twill, so the back will be pretty sturdy. This combined with the gray and white Metro Circles print is going to make a great finish for this quilt.

Linking up to Freshly Pieced:
WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Monday, September 17, 2012

Another yarny finish

Last Christmas I got some awesome gloves from my mom. They are almost elbow length and have two parts: gloves with fingers, and a separate layer over that without fingers. I found that the fingerless part is great to wear to the lab whenever it is cold enough to want just a little extra around my hands. Our lab gets cold, even when it's nice out. A coworker of mine took a liking to them, and asked if I knew how to make something like that. Well yes, probably! I had never used double pointed needles before, but I figured how hard could it be. It was fun to learn.

These fingerless gloves were a really fun project that took way longer than they should have. I started them in February (yikes!) but ended up putting them aside when my nieces' birthdays came around so I could work on sweaters for them. The pattern is free on Ravelry and not all that difficult; highly recommend. I did omit the thumb gusset in favor of simply binding off stitches and adding them back the next row, and I stopped the pattern earlier because otherwise I think they would go too far up the fingers. The self striping yarn from Paton's turned out to look pretty nice. My only comment is it's a little bit scratchy for my taste, and I'm completely unconvinced this yarn could actually be used for socks as advertised. Itchy feet, not my thing. For the gloves though, it works.

Saying the recipient is outdoorsy is an understatement, so I think these will look great with hiking boots and backpacks pretty much anywhere. I probably could have been more detailed and knit them to match, but I kind of like the mismatched look. In fact, I spaced out on the second glove and knit the little cable motifs all the way around the first time it was worked. By the time I noticed I didn't really want to take out all those rows so I left it. I actually think it adds character. Ahem. But really it does look pretty cool. I'd add that in for both gloves if I end up using this pattern again. All in all, I'm really happy with this finish. Hope they are a hit!

Friday, September 14, 2012

The perfect travel project

There is nothing better to do during a Dramamine-induced haze than knitting. Except maybe crocheting. Dropped stitches are way easier for me to fix in crochet. But knitting is still pretty much awesome when floating somewhere between awake and asleep 30,000 feet up in the air. 

Since finishing the long-awaited double knit scarf, I managed to finish up one more yarny wip (post on that coming once blocking is done) and have only a throw hanging around just waiting for the motifs to all be sewn together. Since this doesn't technically count as "on the needles/hook" I gave myself permission to start a new project. 

I bought some madalinetosh vintage yarn at Knit Purl in Portland when we went up there in May. It was a bit of a splurge, but when I walked in the shop, there was this beautiful cowl hanging right near the door. This speaks to the marketing advantage of making items and having them on display, because I decided I was making one in like 5 seconds. I don't usually make things in wool if they are going against my skin (mildly allergic) but I've never tried merino wool before. The skeins felt so soft I figured I'd give it a try. And the colors of this yarn - oh my! I picked out a pretty light gray (Mica) and beautiful reddish purple (Venetian) but really I could probably have randomly picked out any color and loved it. I've been waiting oh so patiently to play with this yarn! Serious self control.

The pattern is the Newsprint Cowl, and is available for free on Ravelry. It is worked in brioche stitch, which I am having a lot of fun with. It makes this super squishy fabric that I bet will be really warm. I started in the terminal on Sunday and with all of the flights I took this week, I managed to get about halfway done. The brioche stitch, I'm finding, has a unique look to it that really shows off two color knitting and I am loving it. I also find that, if you like people talking to you at the airport and in the plane, just take a knit or crochet project along. Someone always asks! 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Pedals, Polka Dots, and Patchwork

This weekend was restful. It included lots of down time, lots of events (berry picking and a picnic, anyone?), and lots of sewing somehow all at once. A nice full break. 

The sewing time was spent with these lovely fabrics I acquired on our trip to Portland over the last long weekend we had, Memorial Day. I still wish we had a shop like Cool Cottons here. I would be there every week. I digress.

These fabrics are destined to become the second picnic quilt/wedding gift of this year. The happy couple is energetic and serious about their bikes, so I think the bike fabric Dave picked out coupled with the bright colors we put together will be a fitting gift for them. I may have gone a little overboard on the polka dots, but I just love them. There is also a cute rocket print in there on red. Bikes and rockets, who could ask for anything more?

I spent my evenings last week sketching out ideas, calculating block sizes to maximize my fabric usage, and even drafting a quick mockup in powerpoint. Finally this weekend the cutting started! I made quick work of the fat quarters slicing them up into squares for 9-patches and 4-patches. This quilt is going to be a patchwork party. 

The block assembly went really fast; these are simple simple simple to make. Chain piecing also helped. I used the trick of pressing seams in opposite directions rather than open so I could butt them up against each other and get those corners nice and aligned.

I thought a bit about doing a more complex block, but I really want the fabrics to stay intact for the most part. I've got dots, rings, dashes, lines, and ovals, and I think (hope) the humble square will let their distinct geometric features come through and play off one another.

By Sunday afternoon I had all of my blocks sewn and pressed. I am really liking how the blocks all look, individually. I'm hopeful that once they are sewn together the picture in my mind will match the final product. Some of it is already sewn together and laid out on my floor. I'm not totally happy yet, but I think I've come up with a solution. More on that soon. 

Linking up to: 

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Fresh Sewing Day September

Well I forgot this last month, but nobody's perfect. Here are the projects I managed to finish up between a lot of other commitments in the month of August. The only one I started AND finished during the month is the pillow. The scarf has been a long process, and the patchwork picnic quilt top was done in July and waited a bit for me to quilt and bind it. My biggest accomplishment this month is that medallion quilt top. So proud of all the work I've put into that one all summer while working along with the online handstitched class. 

Plans for September include finishing up a couple more yarny wips, starting a new cowl in brioche stitch, and the second quilt I am making as a wedding gift for friends. I've designed it and sketched out the blocks, I'm just waiting until I clean up my sewing room a bit before I sit down and start cutting. I *need* to have that finished by the end of the month, so I'm being conservative and not planning anything else for now.

Linking up at Lily's Quilts for Fresh Sewing Day and the Small Blog Meet

Lily's Quilts Lily's Quilts