Be Free Bees: addition for Karen

I introduced the free form quilt bee I’m in when I showed you my starter piece.  Basically, each of the 8 ladies in my group send out a piece to get us going.  Each month, we pass the quilt along and whomever has it that month can add whatever she desires.  Then we pass it to the next person.  At the end of 8 months, you get your quilt back with the additions off all the group members.

For February, I was working on a block for Karen, who is from Wisconsin.

Karen was very prompt and sent her starter out well before the end of January.  I received it, looked at it, and thought about it.  And thought about it some more.  And drew some things on paper.  And scratched them out.  And finally, an entire month later, I actually began sewing (but finished and mailed before the February 29th deadline, so all is well!).

The block I received was this, the Wisconsin state block (sans the black sashing).  The reason the black sashing was added was because I made the first part of my addition without measuring the block first.  Doh!  Rookie mistake.  I assumed it was a standard 12.5-inch unfinished block.  Nope.  It was trimmed to 11.5 inches.  Anyway, I actually like how it looks with the added sashing, so all it well.

The fish fabric that Karen used made me think of getting out to nature and fishing with my dad when I was kid, which we did along tree-lined lakes in (wouldn’t ya know it!) Wisconsin.  No joke.  Some improvisational trees were in order.

I kind of love them.  Aren’t they cute?

So, we’ve got fish and trees, water was the next obvious element in my mind.  {side track warning}  A couple years ago, I saw a wall hanging in a quilt shop in my home town.  It was really cool and had 3-dimentional water with fish in it.  It stood out to me so much that I asked my mom to go back to the shop and take some photos for me.  That idea has been simmering in my head for nearly two years, just waiting for the perfect application.  This was it!

I am so excited about how this turned out.  The background fabric is actually a water print I had in my fabric stash, and the 3-D elements were created with a blue tiny dot and a hand-dyed look green batik.

I added the black sashing across the entire side (Wisconsin block + trees) so that future members of the group can continue it elsewhere as a design element or not.  It is arranged so that the trees can be placed sideways with the water below, or the trees can be upright with the water to the side.  It just depends on how our other group members are inspired.

Oh, and Fiona had my starter this month.  She took my little birds and made them birds in a tree!  You can see them here.

Whooo’s mei tai is this?

It’s Alisha!  And Shimon!  And baby Touma!  This one is going all the way to Japan.

(Read on to learn all about how I am crazy.)

Alisha picked this owl print from the company Kokka, which is based in Japan.  This is hilarious to me because for me to buy this fabric, it’s a Japanese import and costs import prices, but Alisha could probably just walk in to a shop and find it locally (I don’t know if they sell the same lines in Japan as they do in the U.S., though).  Alisha is so entrenched in the Japanese culture, even Japanese fabrics call to her!

Once I had the fabric in hand, I went wandering through the fabric store with a piece in hand and found this stripe that seemed to be made to go with the owls.  So, it’s blue and green stripes on the reverse side.

I used the same chocolate brown organic canvas on this one that I used for Liz and Jeff’s mei tai.  It’s pretty stiff right now, but will get floppier with use.

Here are those cute little owls on the print.  Remember how I said this fabric is more expensive than what I typically spend?  Yeah, so I only bought a half yard instead of my usual yard, thinking if I lined it up just right I could make it work.  Well.  The fabric was not cut exactly straight and the print has a fairly large repeat (the space before the pattern repeat itself) and I ended up being literally 1/2-inch short of what I needed.  I had plenty of fabric, but not if I wanted the pattern on the hood to line up with the pattern on the body.  And I did.  In some areas, I’m a bit of a perfectionist.  This is one of them.  I wouldn’t be satisfied unless those owl bodies intersected just in exactly the right place.  And now, I’ve revealed that I’m crazy.  But I ended up buying a second 1/2 yard (which I guess I just should have done in the first place) and look how nicely they line up!

Coming your way, soon, ‘lish!

Sometimes I make stuff for ME

Back in December, I made a clutch for a gift exchange the night before the gift exchange.  Sheesh!  Talk about procrastination.  Anyway, I loved it so very much that I decided to make one (almost) just like it for myself.

I like to have a clutch to carry around because I can just slide it in the top of my diaper bag and then all my things are right there and handy, and when I don’t need the diaper bag, I don’t need to worry about transferring my things to another bag!

The main fabric and the accent band are both from Michael Miller’s Pretty Bird.  I added a little detachable wrist strap.

I got this little crochet flower from the Heather Ross studio sale a year ago and it seemed just perfect for this bag!  Now, I want to learn how to crochet little flowers.  This clutch is one of the products I hope to have in my store, and I would love to have the crochet flower as an option because I just love the look.  I happened upon a crochet hook when I was cleaning out my desk last week (can you say “random”) and my friend Laura says she learned to crochet by watching YouTube videos, so there may be hope for me.

I was careful to center the birds on the back.

The inside is lined with a print by Denyse Schmidt and has a little zippered pocket (that I sadly couldn’t include on the original gifted one because I was so short on time).

A gift for Baby P

My friend Melissa asked me I would make a baby gift for some friends of hers.  She wasn’t completely sure what she wanted, so I gave her a few options.

My favorite blankets when my girls were little were double sided knit blankets.  They are nick and thick without being too heavy and the little bit of stretch is nice if you want to use the blanket to swaddle the baby.  This one has an appliqué “P” for the baby’s name.  I chose a sweet, fun fabric that was a little girly without being over-the-top pink and ruffle-y.

The back is nice, thick interlock knit in the same turquoise I used for the “P” appliqué, and I added some decorative stitching in pink to add some interested.

Melissa also asked for this double sided flannel/minky ribbon lovie.  It’s about 15-inches square, so it’s a great size to throw in a bag and carry around.  Babies love those little ribbons sticking off the sides!  One side is a nice fuzzy floral flannel.

And the other side is this incredibly soft, I-can’t-stop-petting-it, high-loft minky.  Ooh, it’s luxurious.

I added ribbons all the way around, and my top two favorite are the owl one and the double-layer dots.  Fun!

See the fuzziness?  I wish I could explain to you just how soft it is.  It’s like rabbit fur!  I’ll tell you what, though, this fabric is a bitch to work with.  Seriously, I cut into it and it has shed fuzz all over the room.  It’s getting all over my other projects.  And it’s slippery, so it’s a little tough to keep it going in a straight line while sewing.  So, so worth it though.  I have enough for a few more lovies, but I wish I had a whole pile of it.  I pile big enough that I could sleep with it.

Look how far I’ve come: comparing curtains

My opinion of my own sewing is pretty high.  I don’t say this to “brag” but just to acknowledge that’s I’ve worked really hard and put in a lot practice to get where I am in terms of skill with a sewing machine.  I think the stuff I make is good enough that someone else would want to buy it.

The other day I washed two sets of curtains that I’ve made.  I don’t normally go back and closely scrutinize something after I’ve made it, but when I pulled these two sets of curtains out of the dryer, I couldn’t help but notice some difference in the construction of them.

First up, we have our living room curtains, made for another house at some unknown date.  I can’t remember when these first appeared, but it was sometime prior to 5 years ago.

These are compared against the tab top curtains in the girls’ bedroom, made approximately 2-1/2 years ago.

Both are very similar in style with the different band of color at the bottom of the curtain, but when you look closer, you will see the differences.

Here’s the point where the band at the bottom joins the rest of curtain.  It’s a just a straight seam, which is fine when it’s on the inside of a garment (though serged seams are better there) or hidden between the layers of a lined bag.  I guess I figured that this was the back of a curtain so it didn’t matter how it was finished?  If I were to do it today, I would have done something called a french felled seam, which is like the seam on the outsides of jeans.  The raw edges are completely enclosed.

Another option is what I did here, on the improved model.  I made the entire curtain out of one piece of fabric and added the accent at the bottom, on top of the other fabric, to give it additional weight.  The only way you can tell from the back that this is where the band is attached is the single line of pink stitches.  Much neater, I say.

Also note the side seam on this curtain.  It’s folded under and then sewn down, so there is no raw edge sticking out.  This is how it should be done.

As for this next side seam, I cringe when I look at it!  Not only did I leave the raw edge exposed to fray and look sloppy, I increased the slop factor by failing to even trim up the accent band to the same width as the main part of the curtain.  It sticks out all weird and uneven.  And I left the selvedge (the edge of the fabric as it’s manufactured) on.  You don’t typically do that because it washes/wears differently than the rest of the fabric, but in this case, at least it doesn’t have additional fraying.  I guess that’s a plus?

Next up, the bottom hem.  First, notice the not-straight lines of stitching.  Okay, so they’re straight-ish.  You probably wouldn’t notice unless you are looking close (which we are).  When you look at it like this, it actually looks not-so-bad, right?  The two lines of stitching give it a nice finished look, and the raw edge is actually turned under.  Right?

Uh, no, actually, flip that hem down a touch and you will see that I sewed up the bottom hem, and then folded it over and sewed another line of stitches.  The problem here is that I put the second line of stitches below the first instead of enclosing the raw edge like I should have done.  Who does that?!  (me, apparently, several years ago!)

The bottom hem of the more recent curtains?  Lovely, right?

And that ends my self critique.  It’s nice to know I’ve learned something over the years, and I’m fairly certain that I’ve improved since the time the better curtains were made.  Practice makes perfect.

Tree block inspiration

I joined a group on Flickr called Bee a {modern} swapper.  Basically, the premise is this: every other month, we alternate exchanging quilting blocks (an online quilt bee); and on the opposing months, there is a swap of some handmade item that you are welcome to join (or not).  During each of the bee block months, one member of the group is the “Queen Bee” and all other members of the group make her (or him) two quilt blocks to her specifications.  Thus, during your month being “queen bee,” you receive 10 quilt blocks (2 from each other member of your group).

The schedule of fun for the year looks like this:

February: Pin Cushion Swap
March: Bee Block Month
April:  Pot Holder Swap
May:  Bee Block Month
June:  Pillow Swap
July:  Bee Block Month
August:  Hoopie Swap
September:  Bee Block Month
October:  Mini Quilt Swap
November:  Bee Block Month
December:  Secret Santa Swap
January:  Bee Block Month

I joined the first month pin cushion swap, and that resulted in my Pin Cushion Caddy Tutorial.  We were asked to hold off mailing until closer to the end of the month, so I’ll send that lovely out Monday.  I can’t wait to see what my (secret) partner came up with for me!

Meanwhile, I have the honor of being the Queen Bee for the first bee block month in March.  I decided that I want to make a little tree quilt wall hanging and made this inspiration mosaic to give my group members some ideas.

1. Blue Tree, 2. BBC February blocks- trees on white… Group #1, 3. Bonus Triangles Central Park Tree Block for Kari, 4. Mod Trees Quilt Block, 5. Tree Block- Rainbow, 6. Fall Tree Block, 7. January Blocks Quilting NewBees, 8. Tree for Carmen, 9. Sunni’s Tree Block, 10. tree swap block, 11. tulip tree for Melissa, 12. BBC February blocks- trees on white… Group #2

If you’re interested in attempting a tree block of your own, or just want to see how it’s done, check out these tutorials:

*This one is great because there are several different sorts of trees at the bottom of the post.
*This tutorial is for overlapping squares, but just add a trunk at the bottom and (bam!) you have a tree.
*Here’s a fun way to do trunk and branches, but I think I would like it more with more leaves.
*Scrappy tiling would make a lovely treetop.
*The tutorial for the tree with the paisley-looking leaves on the bottom left of my mosaic is here.
*You could try a ticker tape tree. Basically, you just slap some scraps on your background fabric and stitch it down. Looks like this.
*A couple other good tutorials for evergreen type trees can be found here and here.

Fabric Friday + a poll

Many months ago, I won a yard of fabric from in a giveaway on No Big Dill.    I let Sierra pick the fabric and as she loves all things green, it’s no surprise she picked this chartreuse ruffle fabric.  I have always intended this fabric to become a skirt for Sierra (she did choose it!) but it has sat and sat in my sewing space, as I’ve been completely uninspired about how to actually construct the skirt.  I could have just sewed it up and added a waistband, but it needed something more.

Last weekend, inspiration struck.  My friend Sarah hosted a Matilda Jane trunk show at her house.  I didn’t have the budget to purchase any of the lovely items she had for sale that day (my budget is going toward fabric and supplies to move my business forward at the moment), when I saw this skirt, I knew just what to do.  This ruffle fabric needed a fun print at the top to make it complete.  So, now I’m ready to make this skirt, but I just can’t decide white print to pair it with.

Here are the options; each picks up a bit of that green in the ruffles:

Left to right: Timeless Treasures Owl Floral, Quilting Treasure Splendid Rhapsody, Michael Miller Beatrice Bloom, Blue Hill Fabric Basics Multi Dots on Black, Michael Miller Bird Song

Okay, I’m going to attempt my first poll: which do you like best?

I tried three times (from two different poll makers) to make a poll, but I couldn’t get it to embed. Just leave your thoughts in the comments, please. And any thoughts on how to add a poll to a blog post!


One thing, one week challenge: SUCCESS! [mostly]

Last week, I commented that the one thing I would finish for the One Thing, One Week Challenge was Leah’s mei tai.  I did!  I finished it Sunday night!  Go me.  However, because I am just now getting around to writing this post, I could not actually enter the giveaway for succeeding with my challenge.  Bummer.  No new fabric for free.

I also said that if things went really well, I would finish Alisha’s mei tai as well.  Things did not go that well (sorry ‘lish), but I do have the bottom strap sewn up and the should straps ready to go.  Should be done in a couple days.

Here’s Leah’s.  She liked this animal print (by Amy Schimler) that I had used on the reverse side of Amy‘s (different Amy) mei tai.  Luckily, I had enough left for one more carrier.

Leah let me pick the fabric for the reverse, and because she has a little girl, I decided to go for something a touch more feminine on the opposite side.  You’ve still got the cute (and daddy appropriate) animals on one side, but you can flip it over to flowers if you want.  This print (Juicy Blossoms blooms) coordinated really well with orange, gold and blue flowers.

(Don’t they look lovely together?)

I had hoped to have this in the mail already, but the week sort of got away from me early on, and today I have a sick child, so there’s no leaving the house.  I hope to have it on the way tomorrow, Leah.

Fabric Friday: Joel Dewberry

Remember “Show and Tell”?  Yeah, me too.  One of the best parts of the week for a grade schooler!  All week long, you wait for Friday, when you can bring that special something to school, that something that makes you so happy that you just have to show everyone!  

That’s how I feel about fabric.  I buy fabric sometimes for an intended project, but sometimes just because it’s wonderful and beautiful and catches my eye, knowing that eventually it will want to be made into something lovely.  Fabric junkies call this the “stash”.    It’s a collection, really, like baseball cards or stamps or coins (or peacocks or snow people or antique dishes or those carved wooden figures).

So, let’s have grown-up show and tell on Friday!  I shall try and make this a regular occurrence.  I will show and tell some fabric, and you can show and tell (if you have a blog) or just tell (in the comments) fabric or anything you’re loving right now.

These are all fabrics by Joel Dewberry.  The one on the left is from a collection called Meadow Sweet, but the colors work nicely with the rest, which are all from the Heirloom collection.

From top to bottom: nap sack, rose bouquet, chrysanthemum

From top to bottom: empire weave, marble stripe, tile flourish (all from the Sapphire palette of Joel Dewberry’s Heirloom collection).

So tell me: what do you collect?  Or show me some fabric!

Also tell me: should I iron these fabrics before I take a picture, or does it not matter?  I’m just going to fold them back up because I’m not currently making anything with them!


My original plan with getting this business up and running was to buy a few supplies, make a few items, use what I hope will be a little profit to buy a few more supplies and then go from there.  As I make preparations to make this happen, however, I came to realize that, in the long run, I will actually save some money by buying some things in bulk, up front.  That also gives me the added bonus of actually having supplies on hand rather than having to run out and by them.

Just think of what I can make with these goodies!

That’s a roll of 1-inch webbing on the bottom, with two sizes of velcro stacked on top it (the hook side and the loop side are on different rolls).  You can see just a bit of white elastic peeking out of the zippers.  Oh, how I love those happy, multi-colored zippers.