Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Isn't this what you hope for, really…...

I am lucky to have a group of dedicated sewing students. Moms, all, that have come over the years to my house to sharpen their sewing skills. In the 5 plus years of getting together we have tackled all kinds of things from bags, to gloves,  bowls to coats. A few of my students last year decided that they were "ready" to try quilting. And after a year of pattern selection and fabric cutting, piecing and quilting, summer sewing and cheerleading, one quilt is done!
Madi's Monsters by Kirsten Rifkin for her daughter Madison. Queen quilt, appliqued design with machine piecing and quilting. Tie dye flannel backing. 
Congratulations Kirsten! Well done!! Now, only 3 more quilters to go!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Oh the people you do meet, and other musings on swaps

Fall swaps are in full swing and I must say, the cooler days just make me want to break out the autumn colors- some of my favorite no matter what time of year. I have some fun swaps and side swaps in the works and here is a sneak peek at what is going on in my little sewing corner of the world.
Scrappy Mug Rug Swap- Fall theme- V2
appliqued leaved and pieced Kona ivory blocks, prairie points and fall colored border and binding.

Close up of appliqued leave.
Scrappy Mug Rug Swap- Fall theme- V1- front
Pieced and appliqued leave, pieced blocks. Shadow quilting.
Scrappy Mug Rug Swap, Fall theme- V1, back
 The Scrappy Mug rug Swap is now in it's Fast Fall swap- you could either choose Fall or Halloween. I chose Halloween, one of my FAV holidays and my partner chose Fall. She likes leaves and symmetry. I made version 1 first, symmetrical and ordered and then had some second thoughts and launched into version 2 with more leaves, not quite as symmetrical but more leaves and more color. I'll send both to my partner. Two is better than one, right???
Always Bee learning- for Erin
Triangulations, V2

Always Bee Learning- for Erin
Triangulations, V1
Always bee Learning- for Erin. Her month- October- Triangulations- designs made from 1/2 square triangles. Luckily, I had half square triangles on the brain after the For the Love of Solids swap and really had fun with this. Erin sent 4 fabrics, 2 light, 2 dark. We could pair a light and dark, make 1/2 square triangles, with a paper piecing method that was very handy, and then arrange the 1/2 square triangles how ever we liked. I came up with the above 2 variations and if I were half as clever, I would have rotated the chevron picture 90 degrees to the right and made them E's, for Erin. (I noticed that later)…

And lastly a side swap with a new friend, Whitney and her daughter, Aidan. This was more than fun. I sent her sneaky peaks the day I sent her package in the mail and she should have it by now- so here are the finished swap items. We decided on a 20 minute tote for the girls (both 13 year old budding sewists) and the Jane Market Tote for the moms.

Whitney's tote- I pieced a strip of fun fabrics down the center of the pocket. I used my Go! Baby cutter to get the blocks all nice and uniform (front detail)

Lots of fun fabric- Anna Marie Horner, Amy Butler, Kate Spain, Denise Schmidt

Back pocket different than front pocket- why not! (Back detail)

Aidan's bag- from Remi- Echino fabric and a web handle. Remi sewed this from the 20 minute tote pattern, took more like an hour and 20 minutes, but she did it all herself. (Including a round with the seam ripper and a change of bobbin threads- "Honey did you really want to use black in the bobbin?". "It's not black, it's navy". "Did you really want to use navy in the bobbin?".)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Thank you Keyka Lou

Many of you have likely seen dancing about the Flickr pages these cute little "Dumpling" bags by designer Keyka Lou.

She has provided  directions and 2 free downloadable patterns via her blog. After seeing these cuties cropping up all over the place I thought I'd give them a try. (They looked quite tasty). There are 2 "models", the "Easier" and the "Harder" Dumpling. After making both- I felt they were constructed pretty much the same to me. The small pattern is small, but the directions are clear- Perhaps I'm missing something- hope not!  Do take note of the measurements, because- the "harder one" is really small!!  As I was pleasurably cutting out fabric and lining and interfacing, in the quiet of my corner of the basement, that I call my sewing room- I had a thought- that these dumplings would make a great set, especially in coordinating fabrics- but not a set of 2, a set of 4!
So, wishing that I had some Matryoshka fabric to test my plan, but settling for the the DS Quilts fabrics I purchased this summer at Joann's but had not yet used, I pulled out 5 fabrics that I felt went pretty well together.
I used the left most fabric as a lining. Fabrics- all DS Quilts for Joann's

Then I did this. I layered the smallest dumpling pattern on top of the larger (so to speak) dumpling pattern and lowered the arc of the top curve so that the little pattern now nested within the larger pattern (with about 1/2" difference all around)- following me? If you have downloaded these patterns and cut them out, you will note that the top most point of the arc in the smaller (harder) dumpling meets the top of the arc in the larger (easier) dumpling. If you use one of those curvy rulers, you can easily make the arc smaller, which I did, and then I cut out another template.
I then took the larger pattern and enlarged it 115%, I cut this out and set it aside. Going back to the larger "easier" original pattern I enlarged that 130%. I cut this out and set it aside. In the end- I had 4 dumpling bag patterns,  each about 1/2" higher and wider than the next- more or less.
Dumpling patterns showing how they gradually increase in size. A. is a modified version of the smaller of the 2 patterns. The next (kelly green) is the original easier dumpling pattern. The forest green- enlarged 115%, the outer white, enlarged 130%. 

(My master plan was to have them fit one inside the other). I used 4 of my DS fabrics for the outsides of the dumplings, and 1 for the inside- along with some other red and white fabrics I had on hand.
Fabric and lining cut and interfaced (is that even a verb??)

 I ended up using 4 different blue zippers (they are all blue- right), because- 1. I had them on hand and 2. I couldn't find one blue that went uniformly well with the 4 different fabrics I had chosen.
There is one zipper missing- it turned out to be the same color as the dominant blue in the left most fabric. All different, but all blue.

Following the great directions given here- I put all 4 together and guess what-
Largest (made from the pattern at 130%)

Next largest (made from the pattern at 115%)

Original "easier" dumpling- original pattern

The smallest- modified from the original smaller "harder" dumpling pattern.
Don't let the mountains in the background trick you into thinking they are big.

I thought this was a great way to show the gradual increase in size.
Measurements: front to back, w x h x d- all in inches
4.5 x 3 x 2.125
6 x 3.5 x 2.25
7 x 4 x 2.5
7.5 x 4.5 x 2.75

 they fit perfectly one inside the other, just like those Russian Matryoshka Nesting Dolls-

 now if I could just get my hands on some of that cute Russian nesting doll fabric……...

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Nine-patch gone wild

Kids don't miss much……. you don't think they are paying attention, but they are. Case in point. My 16, almost 17 year old asked me about his 16 year old quilt. What you say (What? I said)???? Well,  some history, I have been making my my nieces quilts for their 16th birthday. I have blogged about these before. (Mainly because I finished one earlier this year). My son, observant and 16, asked this summer for a quilt. He'd been sleeping under his baby quilt- feet sticking out the end, most of the summer. You see he'll be 17 years old soon. A junior in High School. I was secretly thrilled he still wanted something handmade- by me, I even asked- really? So, I have been gathering fabrics (this takes me a bit of time) and then trying to come up with something I'd maybe like to make twice, because, he has 2 beds in his room, and one quilt just wouldn't be right. Unbalanced somehow. Last week I bit the bullet and got down to work. I used this tutorial as a starting inspirational point, and then twisted it around, aligning the blocks at different angles and throwing  the background fabric into the mix- for some with-in-the-block-subtraction. I tried not to fuss too much about where fabrics and colors were in relation to one another, although I did rearrange some blocks, couldn't help it. In the end, I am happy to say, one quilt is completely done, quilted and in use- the other has a flimsy and the backing fabric but somehow I am missing the batting……Could have sworn I had one- HAD may be the operative word. But- I'll use my Labor day coupon this weekend to get some nice Warm and Natural at Joann's and hopefully finish the other quilt soon, really soon, before he turns 17. Here's quilt one- which looks very much like quilt 2. I went with a light main Kona Ivory fabric- his room has beautiful curry colored walls, and dark, modern wood furniture

Front- Nine Patch gone wild. Greens, yellow/mustards and browns on a Kona Ivory background. Parallel rows of quilting  mimic the 2 rows of piecing. The ivory within the 9 patches really adds an interesting contrast and moves the main solid color thorough out the entire top.

close-up, front

The back- I had a few left-over blocks, I then cut again into 1/4's and pieced, off-set on a brown and white hounds tooth cotton fabric
The quilting shows up nicely despite the busy houndstooth

A row of quartered Nine-patches

The back
Either front or back can be used, depending on his mood- They both have a different look, yet go well together. The bias binding is olive. The over-all design was well received and one quilt is in use, while the other is awaiting it's batting.

Friday, September 2, 2011

For the Love of Solids- a Modern Swap

I have thing for swaps. It's not like I don't have other things to keep me busy, (I do), it's just that I really like sewing and receiving sewn things. I have completed, the main items for The love of Solids {a modern swap}. I got a partner who prefers more traditional blocks, especially blocks with 1/2 square triangles.  She also requested for her solids color preferences, "shades of grey". Inspiration was swift with the apron, which I made reversible.  (Interestingly, even though I am not a purple person, I thought purple would be a great compliment to the "shades-of-grey" color scheme and I had actually purchased a red-purple eggplant color to work with the greys) but, turns out my partner doesn't like purple as much as she likes pink. So, plan B- one of my favorite pinks, a cerise.
I chose a 1/2 square triangle pattern and quilted the pocket without  intervening batting. I then inset the pocket into the apron, used some subtle topstitching and for a punch of fun, pieced the waist band as well. I have seen many variations for the layout of this block in books and on-line. There are so many ways you can put those triangles together it's dizzying!  I did pay a homage to a bit of wonky with the waist band and put the 1/2 square triangles in offset locations all along the double length ties.
Large pieced pocket and waist band detail. The reverse is a subdued medium grey. The only pop of color for the reverse comes from the waist band.

side view showing the pocket and the pieced waist band. For the quilting I went with an ivory thread to complement the bound pocket.

pocket close-up- I see my ironing skills need some work.

I then continued with the grey/ cerise color scheme and moved to a sewing machine cover that is also reversible. I used as my inspirational block a design I had seen over at Generation Q.

BWS tips button

The article had an original design that looked like this
I selected the "Weeks" block for my inspiration

No directions accompanied this fun block, so with ideas buzzing around in my head, I ventured forth, seam ripper at the ready. (Which I used, repeatedly). (Sorry for the little spot- it's some dew from the plants).
Mine came out more rectangular, than square, which suited my needs, as I was making a sewing machine cover with this "block".  The colors, all Kona solids, clock-wise, starting top left, outer "ring": Charcoal, coal, medium grey, ivory. The "pink" is cerise.

Close-up, pinned and quilting lines marked. Auditioning the threads for quilting.

I quilted with 2 of the colors from the choices above. I'll give you a hint- I used the variegated pink (I had too) in the bobbin. Given the backing was solid Kona Coal, the pink really contrasts and  highlights the quilting, which for the first time ever, I actually drew onto the fabric before I started.  I have no idea what the original designer of this block had in mind for the quilting but I hope she doesn't mind my interpretation. When I repeated the geometric lines into the quilting the process, I ended up repeating the 1/2 square triangles, just bigger! Hope you can see them. They are everywhere. (Needless to say, I was very proud of myself and I know had I just free motioned quilted this, that little, but I think, important detail would have been lost). I truly didn't plan it so I was really pleased it worked out that way. (It was even applicable on the back- BONUS!!!)
The front

The back- the 4- 1/2 square triangles were added for a design element and for additional width. These are on the back, as they are not part of the Weeks original block.  Plus, it make the cover versatile, my partner can have either side forward AND with the interior quilted with the hot pink thread- there are actually 3 options for a different look.  The sides are tied with a hot pink and black polka-dot ribbon. 
This cover fits the 3 machines that live at my house, all sightly different makes and models and sizes, but I have my fingers crossed that it will fit my partners as well. I did hand stitch the ribbons on, encasing the raw ends within the binding and my partner can certainly remove them and have a wall hanging, or a table runner-  if this sewing machine cover doesn't fit the bill. There are a few additional surprises in her package- but I'm not spoiling all the fun! OK partner if you read this and you think it's for you- I sure hope you like them!!!