Thursday, December 31, 2015

dreaming easy as the year ends

a few soccer games, some chat time with my eldest daughter, moments in a rocking chair with a mountain meadow view. that's what it took to get most of the binding completed on this quilt. and a mere 24 minutes prior to the new year, in one last solitary, concentrated effort, it was done before 2015 winked out.

then, unbeknownst to me, when the mr put our sleeping baby away into her own bed after she rang in the new year in ours, he tucked her in with this quilt. so it's already in service. i'm fairly certain she was "dreaming easy" under it as she slept away.

i've completed the tutorial for this easy, breezy checkered arrow pattern here.

a few weeks ago i was contemplating what i'd done in the quilting realm this year and didn't think i had a single finish under my belt. however, a quick scan of the blog showed that i had completed a project or two after all, including two full-size gifted quilts. i imagine i forgot about them because they aren't here anymore. in reality, "dreaming easy" is my 6th finish of the year.

in january, i completed the binding on my younger son's "bandwidth" quilt as well as my baby's "paris daydreams" quilt. i also finished and delivered "little lady" for my newest niece, evelyn. in march, i was able to gift two quilts: "bloom where you are planted" for my friend jill and "aunty charming" for my husband's aunt sue. that was a pretty good first quarter. the rest of the year saw very little sewing and mostly wip work.

the blog has been rather quiet, too. but i did get some tutorials up for my "cinched" pattern and a simple child's fat quarter apron. i may not be a prolific quilter or blogger, but i do enjoy sharing. is a site that has published a few of my tutorials in their collection of free quilting patterns of all sorts. they surprised me last week by telling me i was one of their top 100 bloggers for 2015! my six and one half dozen baby quilt made it into their most popular projects list for the year. go figure! for someone who isn't nearly as active in the online quilting community as she once was or would like to be, that was a pleasant surprise.

they even gave me a button!

you can see all their top projects for the year here.

so what's ahead in 2016? more finishes, i hope! priority goes to my elder son's wonky quilt, of course. then there's the triangle quilt and penny patch 2.0. you know, all the stuff i talked about last time i posted. i have no big plans other than plodding along and getting things done. well, maybe getting my sewing space whipped into shape and covered with some barn doors.

see y'all around next year!

linking up with amanda jean's friday finishes at crazy mom quilts.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

wip wednesday

 sewing time has been sporadic at best lately. still, some is better than none! the quilting projects creep forward, stitch by stitch, and block by block. i thought i'd do a quick wip report to see where my major projects stand. the idea of digging up and photographing the half dozen minor projects did not appeal to me this afternoon. that'll wait until the end of the year review, i suppose.

first, the priority quilt for s1/the boy, is nowhere near complete. after i finished the first row of wonky log cabin blocks, i began to question the design again. but i got over that and started on the second row of 7 blocks, the one and half blocks above being the result so far.

so, no, there wasn't a fab family photo with everyone sporting their personal quilt as a prop. maybe next year! which, coincidentally, will likely be the last year they are all at home. so maybe that will be a better year to commemorate with their quilts and favorite books.

new deadline for the wonky quilt - christmas.

 the next major project in the wings, and the only other one i'm allowed to work on, is the "dreamin' easy" arrow check quilt, which is in the binding phase. i can take this with me to high school soccer games, which just started. this has the added bonus of keeping my lap warm during the games in the chilly fall weather. since i only manage about a few feet a game, this might take the rest of the soccer season to complete!

the third major project, which is pretty far along, is penny patch 2.0. it's top and backing are languishing in the project box i took to (but did not touch at) the cabin this summer. as soon as wonky gets done, this will be sandwiched and quilted.

i even forgot all about the fourth project - my triangle indian summer blanket quilt - because it's buried under the wonky quilt on the design wall. it looks like i have at least one quilt in every phase of quilting: piecing, quilting, binding.

there is no christmas-y sewing going on around here, although there is one little girl who would like to make a six and one half dozen christmas quilt with some fat quarters (stacked on the box above). the other wips, like gypsy wife and sugar block club, will just have to sleep where they are until early spring.

and then it will be time to dream up something new!

but for the winter, i'm buckling down to some slow and steady finishing.
happy sewing, y'all.

linking up to lee's wip wednesday at freshly pieced.

Friday, November 6, 2015

figuring it out

 the wonky orange and blue invasion is still going on around here. however, i am happy to report some progress! after considering what went so blah with the first block (upper left), i decided i needed to add some solid blue strips and create a few more angles, get more wonk in. also, many of my strips were roughly the same size, so i went for more variation in strip width, too.

i got right to work the next afternoon and am really pleased with the new results. after making a few blocks, i knew that original block wasn't going to fit with the rest, so i unpicked it whilst watching some edwardian farm with the girls. i reassembled with many of the original pieces and the block on the right above is the result. i like the depth of color and contrast much better now. and i got rid of that mini stripe that i wasn't loving. i've learned over the years and quilts to not use a fabric i don't like. some people can look at a fabric for it's color value and effect alone - i just can't. it's not worth being bothered by the offending fabric every time i look at the quilt. so out it goes.

 now i have 6 of the 14 blocks i need after just a few hours sewing. i'm amazed how quickly this block works up. today when i sat down to sew another block, i thought i'd time myself to see how long it was taking.

 but then i got interrupted by a dozen things - like a son working on math puzzles, a daughter who wanted to photograph all the bits she's sewn the last few days, a husband who brought soup, another little one who pinched her finger during a paper cutting spree. honestly, it was endless! my "quick" block took over an hour itself.

so this is where i am with t- 11 days til i wanted this quilt complete. that's nearly 3 of the 5 rows of blocks done. just 8 more wonky log cabins, a pieced word, some strips and we're done. for now, i'm just throwing them up on the board as i complete them. order and organization into the final layout will need to come soon.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

now what?

 so that photo looks really blue and cold. yuck. anyway, that's not my main problem at the moment. first, i have all the wonky stacked coin blocks completed. yay! and i've moved on to the wonky log cabin blocks portion of the quilt now, having finished the first of those. also good. except i'm not liking the look of this first block. not at all.

do i just need to make a few more and see how it goes? try something different with color or value placement? redesign the whole quilt yet again?

i'm not even sure what it is exactly that i don't like here.
maybe it's because of the missing contrast between the pattern fabrics and the solid Kona Windsor blue. i just don't know.

in the actual quilt, these blocks are scheduled to be in a row over and under the rows of stacked coin blocks. (see my sketch here.) maybe the way i had them placed in the first photo doesn't help me get a good idea of what the quilt will look like. but even if that's true, i didn't like the block itself when it was complete.

 the inspiration from this block also came from the same book the wonky stacked coin block came from - block party: the modern quilting bee. see, the quilt and the block are right there on the cover.

 i'm looking at this and trying to figure out what's different from the book blocks and mine; why they work and mine doesn't.

for one, they seem to use some coordinating solids mixed in and i have none. perhaps i should add in strips of the Windsor blue and see how i like that?

my blocks aren't as wonky as the book blocks, but that isn't what's got me. that can be easily adjusted. i think i'm going to have to sit down and study the photos in the book a bit and see what i come up with.

or maybe just walk away for the evening and see what it looks like tomorrow.

any ideas out there, brilliant quilty peeps?

linking up with lee's wip wednesday at freshly pieced.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015


 no one tell his dad that he was taking a break from his algebra and chemistry and laying out a block for his quilt instead of sitting at a computer working on calculations or studying for his midterm.

i was taking a minute to make that peace-offering of an apron and the boy wandered in to my sewing area, looking for a momentary brain reprieve. he saw his quilt pieces and started laying strips out into a block.

i can't tell you how pleased having him involved in this process made me, but perhaps the look on my face says enough. just take that smile and multiply it by infinity. (or a google, a number he was obsessed with as a littler tyke.) i wish i'd let him lay out all of the blocks for me. watching his mind work on it's creative side, which is considerable, makes me pretty proud as a parent. talking about the process with him is so fun and i love that he's had a part in designing his own quilt now.

he would have stayed and worked up many more for me, i'm sure, but i had to be responsible and send him back to his studies when this block was completed. i hope i assembled it to his high standards. i wonder if he'll be able to pick it out of the quilt someday down the road.

Friday, October 23, 2015

supremely simple child's fat quarter apron - a tutorial

lately, there were fights going on in my kitchen whenever the littlest one wanted to help me cook. she wanted an apron but didn't have one of her own. naturally, she grabbed the smallest one on the rack - a red and aqua number her just-older sister brought home from a baking birthday party about two years ago. also naturally, just-older sister didn't want her precious apron being worn and dirtied by littlest sister. hence, the fighting.

and hence the reason i spent about an hour yesterday morning putting together a small and simple apron. 

i made a larger apron out of two fat quarters for an older daughter over a year ago and referred to that post as i guessed my way through this one. really, it is so simple.

with a needed apron in mind, a few days ago, littlest sister (d5) and i rummaged through the spare fat quarter basket for a print she liked. serendipitously, later that same day i happened upon two and a half yards of cast off ribbon, that may or may not have been slightly grubby from being played with. the ribbon was a color match to the fabric selected. done and done. it wasn't 2" wide like i would have preferred, but it saved me a trip to the fabric store, where lies too much temptation and waiting in lines.

so this is all you need for a quick and easy child's apron:

  • 1 fat quarter
  • 2 - 2.5 yds of 1" or 2" wide grosgrain ribbon
  • thread, blending or contrasting

photography tip - sometimes it helps to stand directly above what you are trying to shoot, even if it's on the table and you have to balance precariously on the table and can't manage to cut your foot out of the shot. some maybe your foot is in the shot, but it's also a nice, flat aerial view of what's on the table. actually, i just wanted to show off my blue toes.

step one - prewash your fabrics 

(which i forgot to do! darn it. i even did not make the apron a day earlier because i was waiting to wash the fabrics. fail.) 

and press.

step two - cut pieces

a fat quarter is approximately 18" x 21" when squared. mine was actually 19" x 21". just go with whatever you have. measure 10" down the shorter (18") side of your fat quarter and cut it in two, resulting in a skirt piece (top) which measures 10" x 21", and another piece (bottom) which is 8" x  21". (or maybe 9" x 21" like mine.) and if you accidentally cut it the other way, you will have a skirt that is slightly less wide by 3". no big deal. don't start over.

subcut the 8" x 21" piece to get an 8" x 9" bodice piece. i fussy cut my bodice piece so i could have that bird placed on the bodice where i wanted it.

set aside scraps for another project. (or, if you're making two aprons at once, and you didn't fussy cut, you could use this as the bodice piece for the second apron!)

cut the ribbon into three pieces measuring about 56", 19", and 19" long each. i did this by folding my 2.5 yds in half and cutting, then cutting one of the pieces in half again. (you can make do with 2 yds by cutting your waist tie shorter, and making the neck ties shorter and adding velcro for the closure. see options at the end for this.)

step three - hem the bodice and skirt

i created a 1/4" rolled hem on the top and sides of my bodice piece, and on the bottom and sides of my skirt piece. to help me get a crisp and accurate fold for my hem, i used my hera quilt marker to crease/score the fabric at 1/4" and 1/2". you could use a pencil mark or just eyeball this, too.

fold the fabric along the 1/4" mark and press with the iron.

then fold over another 1/4" and press again.

starting with the side seams first, backstitch at the top of the seam, then sew the seam just to the right of the inner side of the fold (a scant 1/4" will do it). i had my 1/4" guide foot on and it worked perfectly to keep me a thread or two away from the edge of the fold where i was sewing.

do both sides and then the top of the bodice. you can select a thread that blends or contrasts. i almost always just sew with whatever neutral thread happens to be on the machine (lazy) so mine is sewn with a contrasting white thread, but that makes it easier for you to see the threads for this tutorial, so my laziness paid off.

if you like, you can attach the neck tie ribbons into the top hem seam of the bodice. see step 5 below.

step four - gather and attach the skirt

leaving yourself a few inches of thread tail at the beginning and end, sew a basting seam at the top of the skirt. do this by setting your seam length as long as your machine will allow (or perhaps you have a "basting seam" setting).

then grip the edge of the fabric and pull one of the thread tails to gather the fabric. i did this until my skirt top was about 6" shorter than it had been (now about 15" wide across the top).

this gives you a skirt that is about 3" wider than the bodice on each side.

step four - attach waistband tie ribbon to skirt and bodice

line up centers and pin with ribbon under the skirt, not on top as shown here
mark the center of your waist tie length of ribbon (mine was 56" long) and the center of the skirt with a pin. (find the center by simply folding in half and marking rather than measuring.) line up the centers, wrong side of skirt facing up and ribbon on top, and pin in place with a generous 1/4" above the ribbon's edge.

backstitching at the beginning and end, attach skirt to ribbon with a generous 1/4" seam.

if you are using a 2" wide ribbon, use a 1/2" seam allowance so there is more skirt above the ribbon. or just do this if you want a bit more room to work with when attaching the bodice to the skirt.

if you want the threads showing on the front of the ribbon to be placed more precisely/accurately, then pin well and sew with the ribbon facing up, not the skirt.

the backside of the skirt with ribbon attached

in preparation for attaching the bodice to the waistband tie and skirt, fold the skirt in half and mark the center with a pin again.

do the same with the bodice to find and mark the center.

now you are going to attach the skirt to the bodice before attaching it to the waistband.

fold the waistband ribbon down out of the way, exposing the seam allowance of the skirt behind the waistband.

line up the centers with each other and pin the bodice to the skirt.

make sure the ribbon is folded back out of the way while you attach the two fabric pieces together.
in retrospect, you could attach the skirt and bodice together first and then place the ribbon on top. but i guess i just liked it the complicated way and enjoyed the challenge of not sewing the ribbon into this seam.

backstitching to secure at the end and beginning of the seam, make a scant 1/4" seam to attach the bodice and skirt together, making sure not to catch the ribbon in your seam. (really, i'm seeing this would be easier to do the ribbon after this step.)

press the seam to the side, and flip the apron open.

working with whatever seam allowance appeals to you aesthetically, attach the top of the ribbon to the bodice. i sewed just below the edge of the ribbon.

step five - attach neck ties

i noticed on the sample apron that the neck ties were sewn into the hem of the the bodice top, but i didn't want to have the neckties in the way when i was doing my other sewing, so i chose to do this last. but it would look neater and maybe be a bit more sturdy if you did this first. to do that, tuck it under the rolled hem before sewing the hem seam, flip the tie up and over, then sew hem seam.

fold under 1/4" of the ribbon's end.

with end side of the fold down and the length of the ribbon extending off the top away from the bodice, pin the ribbon to the hem of the bodice top on the outside corner.

backstitch and sew the tie to the bodice at 1/4". for sturdiness, i actually sewed back and forth over the whole length of the tie a few times. do this for both sides.

if you'd like, you can attach velcro to the ends of the ties so the little one can put it on themselves. or you can just leave it to be tied in a bow by whoever is handy.

cut all four ribbon ends on the diagonal and treat with a fray check product to prevent unraveling during use.

and there's your cute little apron.

now go get your little person and watch her smile and giggle with delight as she puts it on:

 "mama, it's so pretty! i like to tie it like this." see, those ties are generously proportioned to a nearly-four yr old, but that's just room to grow.

 that's some sass, right there.

 with posing ideas all her own. heaven help us!

after it's been properly admired and modeled, go bake something together. maybe our favorite blondie recipe here. (which, by the way, you can use real eggs in for the egg sub. sub for the sub with the real. haha.)

that's three of them with their own apron so now the only fighting should be over who gets more cookies or who gets to stir.