Monday, January 31, 2011

Style Stitches Bag Challenge - February Fabrics

For the month of February we will be making the Reversible Everyday Shopper bag. This pattern looks MUCH easier than the last one, so if you haven't joined the challenge yet, February is the month to jump in:)

I'm not happy about my fabric selection, but it seems to be the best choice at the given moment. The pattern calls for home dec fabric, but I don't have any in my stash, and I am trying really hard to use up what I have before I buy more. So I raided the stash. I really wanted to use this great floral corduroy that I have, but unfortunately I just didn't have enough. So I kept digging...quite literally I'm afraid!

I finally settled on the Nicey Jane. It was one of the only fabric combinations I could come up with for which I actually had the necessary yardage. Don't get me wrong...I LOVE MY NICEY JANE! I just really wanted this bag to be a work horse, and this fabric just doesn't seem to fit the bill. But, I'm certain I will love the result...even if it does show dirt too easily to be my "Everyday Shopper."

Thursday, January 27, 2011

FINALIST - Holy Macaroni!

My Pip is a FINALIST in the Blogger's Pillow Party for January! SHOCKED, AMAZED, STUNNED, SUPER-EXCITED! Can you tell I am pleasantly surprised??? I never thought that, with all the talented seamstresses and amazing pillows, that my little Pip might stand a chance. WOOT WOOT!

Ok - enough of the all-caps...A huge thank you to Rachel for giving us all the chance to play along! And another huge thank you to Anna from Noodlehead for stopping in to judge all the gorgeous pillows. And one last huge thank you to all the other folks who entered pillows and shared some terrific inspirations with the sewing world! If you haven't already, be sure to go check them will drool!

Now I'm off to do my happy dance!

Monday, January 24, 2011

TUTORIAL - String Pieced Quilt Block

New to quilting? Tired of traditional piecing? Looking to machine-piece for the first time? Need an eye-catching product that requires little thinking? You've come to the right place!

I've been working on a quilt for Belle's bed for a few weeks now and thought I would take some time and show you all how I'm doing it. This is a standard foundation method for string piecing...nothing fancy here. I haven't reinvented the wheel or created some magic method...just a basic show and tell of the steps in the process.

The tutorial below is heavy on pictures and light on words. You will need a square of foundation fabric (with this particular method this fabric WILL show on the front of you block, so pick something that complements your color scheme), strips or "strings" of a variety of fabrics in a variety of widths, a large square ruler, a rotary cutter, pins, a hot iron, thread and sewing machine.

This is the completed block, and while it doesn't look incredibly impressive by itself, don't let it fool you! When combined with other blocks it is pretty fantastic!

Begin by determining your finished block size...mine will be 12.5" square. Use your ruler and rotary cutter to cut a square that is 1/2" to 1" larger than your desired finished block size. I cut a 13" square of natural colored linen for my foundation. If you are new to quilting and are afraid of making errors you will probably want to go a full 1" larger than your finished block size just to be on the safe side.

Fold your foundation square in half on the diagonal and press well.

I like to assembly line piece these blocks as it saves on trips to the iron, so I prepped 8 foundations. I recommend that if you are new to string piecing, you start with one at a time. As soon as you get the hang of it though, you'll make progress a lot faster if you do more than one at a time. Here are my 8 prepped foundations.

Use your square ruler to draw a faint pencil line 1/2" on EACH side of your fold line.

This line will not show in your finished block, but it is very important for getting everything lined up correctly.

Here are my pencil lines.

These lines will result in a 1/2" strip of visible foundation fabric in the center of your block. If you would like to see more or less foundation fabric you can adjust the distance of your line from the fold on your fabric.

If you are planning a large project then you will need to know which colors to select for your blocks. I used graph paper to design Belle's quilt. Then it was very easy to count up the number of blocks needed for each color combination. You've seen all the blocks with red/pink in them already. Today's block will be blue and green.
Another option is to go SCRAPPY! For this you will select any fabrics from your stash without regard for color or even all works out in the end I promise:)

At this point, you will need to cut your "strings." Strings are simply long strips of fabric cut in various widths. My widths range from 1-3.5". When making smaller blocks I tend to use thinner strings so that there are still 12-16 different fabrics in each block. If you are following my dimensions you will need at least 8 different fabrics of each color (8 blues, 8 greens, etc.) so that you do not have to repeat a particular fabric in a block. I'm sorry I don't have any pictures of string cutting...I pre-cut all my strings for the entire quilt last week. Just use your ruler and rotary cutter and slice away:)
To attach your first string, with right sides together, align the raw edge of the string with the pencil line on your foundation. Pin in place. Use a 1/4" seam allowance to sew the strip to the foundation.

Fold the strip back so that wrong sides are together and press well.

Repeat the process on the other side to attach the second string.

You now have a string on each side and a small strip of foundation peeking out in the middle.

From this point forward you can work on both sides of the block at the same time. Select your next two strings, place them right sides together with the previously attached strings (blue to blue; green to green) and align the raw edges of the new string with the one that has already been attached to the foundation. Pin in place and use a 1/4" seam allowance to attach the new strings to each side of the block.

Open up the strings you just attached and press well.

You will repeat this process to continue attaching new strings to each side of the block. Be careful that you do not use the same fabric twice within a block. Your edges will be messes and that's OK! It is VITAL that your press well each time you attach a string. This will prevent bumps and rumples in your finished block.

When you have covered the entire foundation in strings, it is time to trim the block. I just happen to have a 12.5" ruler and want a 12.5" finished block...this is VERY HELPFUL, but NOT necessary.
If you haven't used a square ruler very much, you are now about to become good friends with your new tool.
Look carefully at your square and you will see a diagonal line running across it in one direction. You need to align that diagonal line with the diagonal fold in the middle of your block. MAKE SURE THAT, HOWEVER YOU MOVE YOUR RULER FROM THIS POINT ON, THESE TWO DIAGONAL LINES REMAIN ALIGNED!!!
Center your ruler on your block.

Check that diagonal again...still lined up??? GOOD!

Now use your rotary cutter to slice off each messy edge.

Keep an eye on that diagonal...your ruler may want to slip a little at this step.

You now have one string-pieced block! Like I said, it doesn't look like much now, but put with similar companions, it becomes a show-stopper!

Now go give it a shot, and be sure to share your results. AND if you're still with me and interested in a block swap let me know and we can set up a little exchange:) I'm working on scrappy 6.5" blocks (a little bit different method, but we can chat about that) for a doll quilt and would love to get some new fabrics into the mix!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Meet Frances

Frances is a girly-girl! She loves twirly skirts, gigantic hair bows, and the occasional sparkly bauble. Her quick wit and slightly sarcastic humor make her the center of attention on the playground. She prefers chatting with her friends and soaking up the sun to running around and getting her clothes dirty...though she has been known to scale a tree or two for the best vantage point on the toddler scene.

She frequently wears her name or initials emblazoned on her clothing, though no one really needs to read it...EVERYONE knows who Frances is!

She has a passion for vintage goodies and goes positively gaga over a perfect floral print on amazingly soft cotton.

The youngest of three girls, Frances knows how to gain the spotlight, but also how to avoid it when necessary. She has been know to entertain her family for hours with her sparkling personality, but occassionally she seems to be invisible, slipping in and out of the action with a skill that every cat envies. And that usually means she's up to no good.

I hope Frances's new best friend has as much fun playing with her as I had making her!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Pay It Forward 2011

Have you heard about Pay It Forward 2011? It's been everywhere from various blogs to Facebook. A couple of days ago, I signed up to play on FB...but only got two takers!!! Come on folks, I'm offering to give you something, probably something fabulous, and you won't take me up on the offer! So maybe there are a few strings attached. Are you worried about having to make things for 5 other people? I'm fairly certain that a batch of brownies would count:)

Well, then I found the blogger version at Lindsay Sews. I figured I might get a better response out here in here's the scoop.

The first three people to comment here will receive a handmade gift from me sometime in 2011. BUT, you have to respost this to your own blog and offer three handmade gifts to others, who of course, have to repost, and so on, and so on. Pay it forward:)

What will you receive...who knows, but I have already planned super fantastic gifts for Holly and Shawna who bravely agreed to play on FB. Things that I know they will love:) So who's gonna play in Bloggieland???

Be sure to leave some way for me to contact you in your comment...and if you haven't already click on "follow" and show me some love:)

Blogger's Pillow Party - Take 1

Remember this cutie??? On a whim I entered it in the Blogger's Pillow Party for January. Ridiculous really, because have you seen all the amazing pillows that have been entered? They are truly stunning!This pillow was all about showing off the Pip. With the release of the line still so far away and such a limited quantity of adorable little squares, I really wanted to make the most of each one. Showcase them, I guess you could say. This pillow is supposed to be the first in a collection of several, but you know how it order here, a birthday there, and before you know it weeks have flown by. Maybe now that I am revisiting this sweetie it will spur a little more Pip creation:)
I love these prints because they remind me so much of my little Belle. That child could swing forever, maybe even sleep on a swing if someone would stand out there and keep pushing (we're working on learning to swing by herself, but it is slow-going). And since Santa brought a scooter for Christmas, that has become her second favorite outside pastime. But I suppose that's why everyone has fallen in love with this fabric. If it doesn't remind you of a child you love, it probably reminds you of yourself as a child. It's a real tug-at-the-heart-strings collection. Well, it sure got me. It makes me a tiny bit misty to think about how fast these days will disappear.
So, head on over and check out all the other entries...tons of inspirations. And say hello to Anna from Noodlehead, who will judging this month. Leave her a little note...maybe it will inspire her to pick my Pip:)

Blogger's Pillow Party

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Miss Storybook

A while back I purchased a copy of Wee Wonderfuls by Hillary Lang. I'm certain that I didn't NEED it, but I was drawn to it, magnetized, a weensy bit obsessed. I absolutely love Hillary's work and was somehow convinced that if I used her patterns I could rise to her level of talent....well, close maybe???

You've already seen my first attempt at one of the toys in this book. And here is my second...Miss Storybook. I'm in love! A Golidlocks skirt and Red Riding Hood cape...what's not to love? She's the perfect playtime or bedtime companion. Flexible, easy-going, and adventurous. Now if we could just contain all that CURIOSITY!

Like a good little girl, I broke into the stash to make this cutie...I'm sticking to my 2011 goals so far this year. I even used some of my vintage fabric pieces that I have been guarding like mad. I think it came together beautifully. Since hand-made is the new modern, her vintage appeal is so current...try wrapping your brain around that concept:) YIKES!

This time around, I thought I would include a quick review of the book just in case you have a hankering to make some toys.
First, there isn't a single doll in the book that I do not absolutely love. They are simply splendid! And more than 1 (10) of them are on the short to do list:) The little sleep over girls are a definite for our camping adventures this summer!
At this point, I've only made 2 of the toys, so I definitely cannot speak to every single pattern, but here is what I have discovered so far:
The pattern directions are pretty simple to follow. The directions are clear and each set of steps has its own heading. I LOVE this because I don't ever get to sit down and complete an entire project all at once. This way, the pattern sections work almost like chapters, giving me clear places to stop and then pick back up. BIG +!
The photos are inspiring! The staging of the dolls and toys is playful and makes me want to get started right away. +
The actual pattern pieces are printed on the last several pages of the book. They are not on removable pattern pages contained in an envelope in the back. I don't really know if this is a + or a -. I like them on the pages like they are in this book, because then I can't lose them. I'm sure others like the pull out pages because they can maneuver them better or carry them around as needed. +/-
There are some errors in a few of the patterns. Miss Storybook happens to be one of the patterns with errors (1 piece is missing and 1 piece is the wrong size). The doll I made before wasn't. I'll admit that I was more than a little frustrated at one point, but it worked out in the end. -
However, the publisher has made all corrected pattern pieces available. Sure wish I had known that when I was struggling with Story's bum! So, you can easily print what you need and add it to your book. +
Overall, I love the book! Even with the few errors, the patterns are adorable, they are easy to complete, and they are perfect for little hands to love. I will be making more...maybe this evening:)
Miss Storybook had a grand time playing in the back yard...she's an outdoorsy kind of gal! Just the way I like 'em:)
Do you have any pattern books that you can't live without? I'd love some new recommendations...

Friday, January 14, 2011

Lucky Me!

I won!

I love giveaways, and I enter them all the time. Unfortunately, I very rarely actually win anything. But it seems my luck may be turning. I won two great prizes on Sew Mama Sew's Giveaway day (pics to come when they arrive...both from outside the US), and now I've won a bundle of gorgeous Henna Garden. A HUGE thank you to Kaelin at The Plaid Scottie for her super generous giveaway. And also congratulations on your 10,000th hit!

Maybe I'm lucky afterall....

Thursday, January 13, 2011


I spent a good chunk of the day prepping to work on Belle's quilt later tonight. I've cut and marked 8 more foundations, as well as cut about a million strings to use. If all goes well this evening, I should have all of the blocks containing red/pink completed before I fall asleep...if all goes well, HA!

What are you working on this week?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Look At Me Go!

I'm determined to keep up with the Style Stitches Bag Challenge this year! So here is my Cosmo bag:)

My Quick Pattern Review: This bag is listed as EASY, and there has been a lot of discussion on the Flickr group about whether or not it is actually "easy." Here's my opinion...The pattern is listed as EASY, not BEGINNER. And I think that is pretty much accurate. The bag construction is pretty standard, the instructions are well written, and discounting the 6 million years you will spend putting interfacing on each piece, it actually comes together pretty quickly. HOWEVER, if you are a beginner you WILL struggle with this bag. Why??? Because it is constructed with a large number of curved seams. So here's my tip for you...don't pin the curves! Just gently work the two edges together as you sew. It's really much easier that way, but you do have to go slowly! Another note - if you are accustomed to following online tutorials or PDF patterns that have a picture of every single step, reading this pattern may be a challenge as well. It's just a different style of presenting the directions, so take your time and read carefully. Overall - if you have some time, this bag is a great project...especially if you want some practice sewing curved seams or you need a facial (there sure is a lot of steam involved in all that interfacing!).

You can see more of my bag on Flickr.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Style Stitches Month 1 Fabrics

Did you notice the button on the right? The Style Stitches Bag Challenge? You really should play along. 17 bags in 12 months...sounds like fun, right? The best thing about this challenge is that each bag in the book gets progressively more difficult. So you begin with the super easy ones and learn a little bit more with each bag along the way. Even with all my years of sewing, I'm a total bag newbie, so I'm really excited about this challenge. There's even a Flickr group where you can talk with others who are participating in the challenge. I've already learned a few tricks about making sturdy bases for bags from one of the other Flickr group members.
In January we will be making the Cosmo Bag from Amy Butler's Style Stitches. It's ENORMOUS! I'm planning to use it for road trips. It seems the perfect size for my yarn, book, bottle of water, travel pillow, and sweater/sweatshirt (which is mandatory even in August if you travel with my husband). These are my fabric choices...
Flower Fields by Joel Dewberry will be the exterior. I wanted a dark color since this bag will spend most of its time on the floorboard of the car.

This coordinating fabric will make the handles.

And because I desperately want to be one of those people who can make seemingly unrelated fabrics look fabulous together...Spring Geometrics for the lining. Of course, I ordered all my fabric online, so when this last piece arrives it will probably look terrible with the other two in person...but for now, this is the plan:)
Are you joining in on the fun? I'd love to see what everyone else puts together! I'll be back with my finished bag before the end of the month...and if January 31 rolls around and you haven't seen it posted here...CALL ME ON IT! Keep me honest...please!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Welcome 2011!

We rang in the New Year pre-school style complete with noise makers, glittery shakers, boas, and jewels. The countdown began at a few seconds before 5:00 and concluded with much cheering and clapping and giggling and squealing.

So this morning, we welcomed 2011 with glitter on every surface, balloons covering the floor, and sequins as far as the eye could see. And I wouldn't have it any other way. It seems a good omen to wake up to a sparkly house on the first day of the new year:)

Happy New Year!