SMS Giveaway Day Spring 2012 Round Up

For a blogger like myself, who just started her little sewing blog space 4 short months ago, I was so very thankful for all the nice people who came by for the Sew, Mama, Sew Giveaway Day and left me a comment.

According to the WordPress stats, I usually have somewhere between 60-100 visits per day to my site.  Over the course of the 5 days that Giveaway Day (week) was happening, nearly 1400 clicks to my site showed up in the stats (and then when the giveaway was over on Saturday I had 69 again.  Ah well, back to normal!).  I had my most comments ever, with 210 nice folks giving me some feedback, and I am slowly trying to reply to all of those and say “hi” to people who bothered to take the time enter my giveaway.

I asked this question: “Tell me what you’re looking for in a sewing/quilt blog; what sorts of projects and posts would bring you back to visit again?”

The overwhelming response was that people want tutorials.  I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, as we are all here to learn from one another, but admittedly, I was a tad surprise to see that response so frequently.  Behind that, readers want to see pictures, pictures, and more pictures, as well as posts about what’s in the works in the sewing room.

The next most common responses to what readers look for in a blog were inspiration, tips and tricks, finishes, and a little bit of personal life.  People want to feel like the author is a friend, not just a voice behind the computer.

I started this blog because I wanted a way to be a part of the very active online sewing and quilting community.  I made this space as a forum to share what I’ve been working on, but I also want to interact with other sewing enthusiasts, and perhaps provide some inspiration to someone else or help a beginner learn something new.

Summer Road Trip Quilt Along starts tomorrow, and I hope that will satisfy many desires of this blog, both my own and my readers.  There will be tutorials about the blocks, perhaps the project will inspire someone else, and I’m looking forward to seeing how other interpret these blocks.  Happy travels!

WIP: Hooray for progress!

I must admit, I’m feeling a little bit like a rock star right now because not only did I FINISH THREE MEI TAIS this week, they are all in the mail!!  Okay, two are in the mail, the third belongs to a local friend and she is coming to pick it up tomorrow because she wants to have it for her trip she’s taking this weekend.

Yay progress!  And I was hoping to have my Work in Progress Wednesday post up, you know, sometime before there were only minutes of Wednesday left, but it just didn’t happen.  We went to Richmond today to meet up with some very dear friends, and then it was dinner time by the time we got home, and then Jason headed off to a Chemistry review session and I had playtime and then way-too-late-bedtime with the kiddos.

After only working on one project last week, it feels good to have made a little progress elsewhere this week.  Here is what the “To List” was looking like last week and what I’ve accomplished:

1.  Three mei tais.  DONE!  While these were all in various states of construction, the fact that I finished them all within the week is really quite amazing.  I wanted them all finished and on their way to their new homes before we leave this weekend, so I call that a big SUCCESS!  Amanda’s was the biggest success, as only the straps were cut out as of last Wednesday.  

1a.  for Emily done!
1b.  for Kim done!
1c.  for Amanda done!

I want to show you these finished baby carriers, but I don’t want to inundate you with three posts full of mei tais in a row, so I will likely show you these finishes once a week for the next few weeks (also: auto correct really wants to change the word “mei” to “men”).

2.  Be Free Bees May quilt for Bernie.  Some progress.  I was off to a really great and early start with this quilt, but then I sort of stagnated.  After I had designed my addition and picked out fabrics, Bernie sort of fell off the digital grid.  She was no longer posting in our Flickr group, she hadn’t sent along the quilt she was supposed to send out for May and we hadn’t heard if she had received the one that was sent to her.  She just sort of disappeared from the interwebs with quilts from two members of our free form robin group.  As a result, I guess I didn’t want to put time in to a project for someone who was no longer playing.  Bernie has since resurfaced, and I’m working hard to finish this up.  I will probably be a few days late in mailing since the deadline is tomorrow!
(I really need a new ironing board cover.)

3.  Tote bags.  No progress.  Not an immediate priority.
4.  Gathered clutches.  No progress.  Though, I now have specific order for 4 gathered clutches, so those are on The List.

5.  Design and order woven labels.  No progress.  No idea why I haven’t made this happen yet.

6.  Skill Builder Sampler blocks.  Some progress.  

6a.  Apple core block.  Done!  But I didn’t take a picture of it.
6b.  Equilateral triangle block.  Some progress.  All the triangles are cut out, I just have to put them together.
6c.  Cactus flower block.  No progress.
6d.  Hexagon flower block.  No progress.

I finished one, but there’s a new one posted on Leila’s blog: the mini lone star.  Add that to the list!  This is a 36 block sampler, and the mini lone star is #33.  I can’t believe we’re almost finished!  Cross one off, add another to the list!

7.  Double staircase rainbow quilt for A Girl in Paradise guest post.  No progress.  I still need to do the binding.  The tutorial for the block posted on A Girl in Paradise Monday and I added some additional pictures of the finished quilt.  I love it!!  I want to make it before we leave and then I might be able to do the hand-stitching in the car if my potential carsickness stays away.

8.  Charm square blog hop project.  No progress.

9.  Road Trip Quilt Along.  Some progress.  

9a. Virginia (June 1st).  Some progress.  All the pieces are cut out.  Tutorial is supposed to go up Friday, so I hope to make this block tomorrow.
9b. Maryland (June 8th)
9c. Pennsylvania (June 15th)


So, here’s The List as it stands now: 

1.  Be Free Bees May quilt for Bernie.
2.  Tote bags.  On hold until August.
3.  Gathered clutches.  Four orders + additional
4.  Design and order woven labels.
5.  Skill Builder Sampler blocks

5a.  Equilateral triangle block
5b.  Cactus flower block
5c.  Hexagon flower block
5d.  Mini lone star block

6.  Binding for double staircase rainbow quilt.
7.  Charm square blog hop project.  June 6th deadline.
8.  Road Trip Quilt Along

8a. Virginia (June 1st)
8b. Maryland (June 8th)
8c. Pennsylvania (June 15th)

Rainbow double staircase baby quilt

Good morning!  Today I’m guest posting at A Girl in Paradise as part of her Building Blocks with friends series.  If you happened to wander over here from there, welcome to my space!  I’m new to this sewing blog thing, but I’ve made a few tutorials, and you can check out a sampling of my work under the Sewn by Moonlight tab.

I’m sharing the tutorial for the double staircase quilt block that I used to make this rainbow baby quilt.  To see the tutorial, head on over to A Girl in Paradise.

I am so very excited to share this quilt because I just love the way it turned out. I used the charms I received in the 5 Yard Color Wheel Charm Swap (well, some of them.   I have a lot left!).

I quilted in straight lines, following the pattern of the stair steps, above and below, as well as quilting within the white spaces in the border.

You can see the stair step quilting a bit better on the back of the quilt.

And speaking of the back of the quilt, I think I love it almost as much as I love the front.  It so colorful and happy that I can’t help but smile when I look at it.

I still need to bind the quilt.  I’m thinking red.  What do you think?

Thanks for stopping by!

WIP Wednesday: One quilt focus

Usually, when I show you my works in progress, I post the list from last week so I can tell you about what I’ve been working on this week.  I’m not going to bother.  This week, I worked on one quilt only.  It’s my Double Staircase baby quilt for the guest post I’m doing Monday for Building Blocks with Friends on A Girl in Paradise.

Anyway, I am so, so excited about the tutorial I’m doing and the quilt that will be finished to go along with it!  The top is all put together, I pieced the back (I think I like it as much as the front!), it’s basted (note to self: must stop basting with straight pins.  Somebody save me!!) and I am right now in the process of quilting it.  See, it’s still in my machine when I took these photos!

The other project I worked on was also for something I’m doing with another blogger (many others, actually!).  Beth at Plum and June is hosting a Let’s Get Acquainted Blog Hop this summer that started this week!

The hop started this week and features new bloggers who started their blogs in 2011 or 2012.  My date on the hop is June 7th, but this week you can check out Kelsey and Erin, who each posted project yesterday, as well as Nik and Alyssa, who will be featured tomorrow.

Beth suggested we use novelty prints in our projects for the hops, so I pulled some fabrics with birds and owls.

I’ve got some charm squares cut for my project and tutorial.  It should be fun.

Here’s the “To Do” list:

1.  Three mei tais.

1a.  for Emily
1b.  for Kim
1c.  for Amanda

2.  Be Free Bees May quilt for Bernie.
3.  Tote bags
4.  Gathered clutches
5.  Design and order woven labels.
6.  Skill Builder Sampler blocks

6a.  Apple core block
6b.  Equilateral triangle block
6c.  Cactus flower block
6d.  Hexagon flower block

7.  Double staircase rainbow quilt for A Girl in Paradise guest post.
8.  Charm square blog hop project
9.  Road Trip Quilt Along

9a. Virginia (June 1st)
9b. Maryland (June 8th)
9c. Pennsylvania (June 15th)


Mother-daughter clutches

My friend Lorae requested a clutch from me months and months ago.  It’s been so long ago now, that I’m actually embarrassed by how long it has taken me to put this project for my sweet friend on the top of my priority list.

Last week, she chose some fabrics for a clutch for her mother as well.  I am happy to say that in under a week, I finished both of them!  That’s more like it.

The navy on Lorae’s clutch is Lizzy House Outfoxed Jewels deep purple (though it really is more blue than purple).  The band is Michael Miller Whimsy ditto dot accented by a Kona solid that is a yellow-gold color (not sure which one).

That same yellow accent provides a nice pop of color on the inside of the bag.

Her mom has this gorgeous yellow and gray version.  I’m loving this combination of colors.  The floral is Moda Salt Air Coral Blooms and the yellow dot is part of the Clothworks Joined at the Hip line.  I love it and I really wish I had more.  Too bad.  The gray accent is a print from Silent Cinema.

SMS Giveaway Day: Rainbow Charm PackWINNER!

Thank you to everyone who stopped by my blog and played in the giveaway.  The winner out of 210 comments was #120, Lynne, who said:

I love a blog with beautiful pictures and lots of clean, white space like yours! Thanks for the great giveaway!

 Hey there.  Welcome to Sewing by Moonlight.  My name is Em.  Sometimes I like to think of myself as M, like the “big boss” in James Bond movies.  Sometimes I also like to think of myself as an organized, well-rest woman with children who sleep through the night, but none of that is true.

I’ve got two little girls and I do most of my sewing after they are tucked in bed for the night, you know, by moonlight.  I just started this  blog in January, so I’m definitely still figuring out the ins and outs of this sewing blog business, but I decided to jump head first into the deep end and host my first quilt along this summer.

So far, there’s been only a little bit of interest and I’m feeling a little bit lonely in the Flickr group, so if you’re looking for a unique sampler quilt, I’d love it if you would join us.

Here’s the deal.  My family is going on this insane road trip this summer that involves a wedding, a Master’s thesis defense, a reunion with old friends, and an abundance of national parks.  Over the course of two months we will make a loop through the country, traveling through 16 states in the process.  Since there are quilt blocks which represent each state, I thought it would fun be to make a sampler quilt with all those state quilt blocks.  Thus was hatched my idea for a Summer Road Trip Quilt Along.

And if you’re going to join a quilt along, you’re going to need a little fabric to get you started.  I’ve been really crushing on rainbow projects lately, so I thought I would offer you a pack of 42 rainbow charm squares.

Unfortunately, I messed up the cutting, so now I’m offering 36 charm squares plus 6 5-inch x 4-inch rectangles.  Sorry about that.  Can we blame it on the fact that the day I cut the charms I woke up at 4am to run a half marathon?

To enter, leave me a comment.  Tell me what you’re looking for in a sewing/quilt blog; what sorts of projects and posts would bring you back to visit again?  I’m looking to improve my new space here, and I’m hoping you can help me do that, so if you have any suggestions about what could make this blog better, I’d love to hear those as well.

The giveaway is open to all and will close on Friday, May 25th at 8pm EDT.  Please make sure your email address is in your comment if it’s not associated with your profile.

If you’d like, you can follow me on Twitter @moonlightsewing, or like my Facebook page.  It’s brand spankin’ new (as in, I haven’t even told anyone it exists yet!), so you will be one of my very first fans!!

And one last thing, if you didn’t happen to come here from there in the first place, get ye over to Sew Mama Sew and enter all the other great giveaways for Giveaway Day!

Pack your bags for a Summer Road Trip Quilt Along

Confession: I’m really not sure what I’m getting myself into here.  This is the first time I’m jumping into the deep end and attempting to host a quilt along.  I’m a bit scared, to tell you the truth.

But hey!  I’m trying to be all official and stuff.  I made a blog button!  (Do you like it?)

You can grab yourself one for your blog from my sidebar over there.

And there’s a Road Trip Quilt Along Flickr group.  I’d love it if you would come over and join.

Here’s what’s going on.  This summer my family will be traveling through the country on an Epic Road Trip Adventure.  We’ll leave home in Virginia the beginning of June, head to my sister’s wedding in Illinois, travel to Montana where my husband will defend his Master’s thesis, stop off in Denver to visit some friends, and finally return home via my in-laws’ house in St. Louis.  Phew!  It’s exhausting just typing that!  In all, we’ll be driving a cross country loop through 16 different states.

I’ll have my new friend Trixie along for the ride and since each state in the United States has an associated quilt block (often more than one) I thought it might be fun to make a travel quilt with blocks representing the states we travel through.  Then I wondered if perhaps there were some other quilters out there who might like to join in the fun and I decided to start a quilt along.

So, I hope there are some other quilters out there who will quilt along with me!  Are you in?  (At the very least, maybe I can count on my mother?)

I’ve sketched out the blocks we’ll tackle on the journey.

The trip kicks off May 31st with Virginia and I will make my best attempt to post a block a week after that.  Here’s the schedule:

May 31st: Virginia
June 8th: Maryland
June 15th: Pennsylvania
June 22nd: Ohio
June 29th: Indiana
July 6th:  Illinois
July 13th: Iowa
July 20th: Minnesota
July 27th: South Dakota
August 3rd: Wyoming
August 10th: Montana
August 17th: Colorado
August 24th: Kansas
August 31st: Missouri
September 7th: Kentucky
September 14th: West Virginia

And then we’ve returned home to Virginia!

Mothers Day Mug Rugs

With now plan for Mothers Day, I suddenly had a stroke of brilliance (in my humble opinion) and decided to make quilted mug rugs for my mother and mother-in-law.

“What,” my husband asked, “is a mug rug?”

It’s a rug for your mug, obviously.  Ha!  Okay, think small placemat or large coaster.  It’s a pop of fun and color for your table large enough for your mug of coffee/tea/hot chocolate/vodka (just kidding) and a little snack (or a big pile of chocolate chips) to go along with it.

I used the scraps leftover from the rainbow double staircase baby quilt I’m working on.  This one has a rail fence design and random zig zag quilting.

The other one has two little wonky stars.  I kind of wish I had used white for the center of the stars as well to make them show up a little better, but I still love them as a more subtle design element.

I tried some free motion loops for the quilting on this one and learned (well, I already knew) and my free motion quilting really needs some work.  Wow.  The quilting is not terrible by any means, but it’s certainly not great, either.  I think I should do some more little projects like this to practice!

I raided my scrap bin for the back and binding and sent them off in the mail not quite in time for Mothers Day.

Meet the machines

Since this is a sewing blog, I figure it’s high time I introduce you to the sewing machine who does all the work around here.  Without her, I would be sunk.  Actually, her manual refers to her as a “sewing computer.”  We love each other dearly (most of the time) and make beautiful babies together (and by “babies,” I mean finished projects, of course!).

This is Victoria, so named for all the victorious sewing projects I anticipated we would conquer together (so far, so good on that front).  She goes by Tori and shares a birth week with my baby girl.  I distinctly remember walking into my local quilt shop/Bernina dealer with my mother, and my 5 day old baby snuggled in a wrap on my chest (just the baby was in the wrap, not my mother) and walking out with this machine sewing computer.  Sigh.

Tori is a Bernina 330.  I had been looking at purchasing a new sewing machine for well over a year, and after much research, I decided that a Bernina was the way to go.  I had actually planned to purchase a different machine, as this one was not available when I did my initial research.  As it turned out, though, the 330 was meant to come home with me.  For a trade off of fewer decorative stitches, which I don’t use that much anyway, I got some nice upgrades and a sweet deal in an introductory sale.  Thanks to the “Bank of Mom,” I also had an interest free loan (which now payed off, by the way).

Tori has been recently joined by a new baby sister.  

Her name, Beatrix, or Trixie for short, means “voyager,” and she was purchased specifically to be used during our travels this summer.  We are going to be gone for the better part of two months and I decided that Tori was too large, heavy, and expensive to be hauling all around the country.  I have some sewing bee commitments that I will have to maintain through the summer, not to mention, I’d like to keep posting on this little blog without a 2 month lapse, so I needed a solution for sewing away from home.  Trixie is my solution.

Trixie is a Janome Sew Mini and she is still sew new that I haven’t even sewn a stitch with her yet.  I’ll let you know how it goes.  She was somewhat of an impulse purchase; I only read a few online reviews before I purchased her on a sale from Hancock fabrics.  She is very basic.  She does a straight stitch and three widths of a zigzag stitch, she doesn’t have a light and is definitely not made to go through the rigorous work Tori does, like stitching the straps of a mei tai.  Still, she should be fine with a few layers of cotton, not to mention she is only about 5 pounds, so she will certainly be easy to pack around the country.

I’ll certainly miss Tori this summer, but I hope Trixie can fill my sewing needs while we’re away.

(by the way, anyone else name inanimate objects, like sewing machines, appliances, or cars?)

WIP Wednesday: short sewing week

My cousin stayed with us this week.  She flew in Thursday and Thursday night she hung out with me while we watched New Girl, drank tea, and sewed together some pieces for the little quilt I’m working on.

Friday and Saturday we were camping (wonderful!) and Sunday was recovering from our triathlon the day before, more New Girl and hanging with the cousin, but without the sewing this time.  This means that I only had half of my usual possible sewing days this week.  Still, I managed to get a few things done here and there.

1.  Three mei tais.  No progress.  

1a.  for Emily
1b.  for Kim
1c.  for Amanda

2.  Be Free Bees May quilt for Bernie.  No progress.  And, Bernie, it seems, has disappeared.  I’m actually a little bit concerned for her, even though I’ve never met her in real life.  We have a mailing deadline of the last day of the month, and Bernie didn’t send on her quilt at the end of April.  We haven’t seen her in our Flickr group since the middle of April, and she now has two of our group member’s projects in her possession: the one that was mailed to her (confirmed delivered May 3) and the one she should have mailed on.  I’m a little bit at a loss about what to do about this, since I’m technically the “group leader.”  I’ve tried looking up her phone number to no avail.  Any suggestions?

3.  Tote bags.  No progress.

4.  Gathered clutches.  Progress!  I told my friend Lorae ages and ages ago that I would make her a clutch.  I finished it this week, as well as another one for her mother.  Several others are cut out.  Yay.  

5.  Design and order woven labels.  No progress.  This should be an easy task.  I just need to DO IT already.  This week.

6.  Skill Builder Sampler blocks.  No progress.  But I’m adding another one.

6a.  Apple core block
6b.  Equilateral triangle block
6c.  Cactus flower block

7.  Double staircase rainbow quilt for A Girl in Paradise guest post.  Progress.  The rows for all nine blocks are complete and the borders are sewn together.

Back burner:
*Warm colors dresden plate: what to do with this?
*Rainbow/color wheel dresden wall hanging.

So, some progress, but no finishes.  The list remains the same.

1.  Three mei tais.

1a.  for Emily
1b.  for Kim
1c.  for Amanda

2.  Be Free Bees May quilt for Bernie.
3.  Tote bags
4.  Gathered clutches
5.  Design and order woven labels.
6.  Skill Builder Sampler blocks

6a.  Apple core block
6b.  Equilateral triangle block
6c.  Cactus flower block
6d.  Hexagon flower block

7.  Double staircase rainbow quilt for A Girl in Paradise guest post.

Back burner:
*Warm colors dresden plate: what to do with this?
*Rainbow/color wheel dresden wall hanging.