Minion Pinion

 

pinion

A friend posted a picture of a minion in her Instagram feed, wondering if anyone had seen a pattern for one. She commented that she thought it would be great to have a minion in her sewing room with her.

I thought that if one were going to have a minion in one’s sewing room, the minion should do something. Like hold pins.

And I was thus inspired to make her a minion pin cushion: A PINION!

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I used felt for the body and the hands and raw edge appliqué to add the overalls, goggles, and eyes.

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I used a tight zig zag stitch on my sewing machine to add details: the goggle strap, the shoulder straps of the overalls, and the middle of the eyes.

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Now I think *I* need a PINION to help out in my sewing room!

I’ve got sunshine!

I’ve got sunshine on a cloudy day! And it came in the form of fabric in my mailbox! I am so excited about this that I could pee myself. Not really.

However, this fabric was delivered to me by Moda Fabrics to use in completing the projected I submitted for Moda Bake Shop. I was super excited that my project submission was accepted, but even more thrilled when I learned that I could submit a fabric request to complete the project!

I gave several possibilities, so I wasn’t sure which one would appear in my mailbox. It was Snap Pop by Sandy Gervais!
Snap Pop charm packs

Seriously, don’t the fabulous colors just make you joyful?!

Snap Pop charm packs

And now, the real work begins. Because of course I designed a project composed of 520 2-inch squares. Let’s see if I can finish this before the baby comes! Go!

 

Be Free Bees May addition + the process pledge

For the month of May in my Free Form Robin, I’m working on Bernie‘s quilt.

Unlike Thea’s quilt in April, when I really struggled to find some inspiration for my addition (never fear, I’m really happy with how it turned out), I had ideas about this one before I even had it in my hands.  I had seen photos of it in our Flickr group and had already begun thinking about what I could add.

This is how the project looked when it arrived at my door.

I wanted to mimic that horseshoe shape across the entire end of the piece, but face it in the opposite direction from the one that is already there.  And I wanted to incorporate something similar to that pieces star that Bernie used for her starter piece.

And here is where things get tricky.  If your eyes start to glaze over when I talk about geometry, just skip down past the next photo!  The original piece is an octagon, and thus the angles are 135°.  However, because of the way the additions were incorporated beyond the original octagon, it made the most sense to add a piece that had just 3 sides (rather than the 4 that would be 1/2 of the octagon).  This meant that the center point of my addition was not an equal distance from all the edges.  In order to fill the space in a manner that makes the points look cohesive, each point had to be individually measured and drawn.  Phew!

I started by drawing one half of my shape.  When I paper piece this, I will cut this portion into four segments.

I’ve already pulled fabric and labeled where each will go.  It like the quilting version of color-by-number but with fabric instead of colors!

The other side mirrors the first.  It was easier to do this than to individually draw each of the points on the other side.  I taped my original drawing to a window, face down, and then taped another pieces of freezer paper on top and traced.

Here is the quilt with my paper addition.

I know it’s tough to picture without the colors, but the whole quilt will look something like this when my addition is complete.

These are the fabrics I’m planning to use.  The background is Kona Ash, which is a very light gray.  Bernie had included some of her original white-on-white batik with the quilt, but it was put to good use in the previous addition, and I didn’t think there would be enough left for my purposes.  A solid white was too much of a start contrast, so I settled on this gray.  The others are all batiks to keep with the original fabrics, as well as the additions.  The green and yellow were included from the addition of the first horseshoe border and the others are mine that I already had.

I’m really looking forward to completing this.

Also, since I’ve already posted several times about the process I go through when creating, I decided it’s high time I take the process pledge!

I, Em, at Sewing by Moonlight, pledge to talk more about my processes, even when I can’t quite put them in the in words or be sure I’m being totally clear.   I’m going to put my thinking and my gut feelings out there.

Festival of Half Square Triangles: winter table runner

Today, at noon, is the final day to enter a project in the Festival of Half Square Triangles at Canoe Ridge Creations.  And here it is, nearly 10am and I am writing this little post about a project I just finished last night very early this morning, so that I can play, too.

Yes, there are some great prizes up for grabs, but with well over 100 entries already, I realize my chances of actually winning any of them are slim.  However, I still wanted to finish this up and link up over there because these sorts of “link parties” are really great for the community aspect of them; it’s tough to get that in the digital world.

I’m really glad that this festival is happening because it provided the motivation to finish a half square triangle project that I started (and had hoped to finish) way back in January.  I thought I was being all sneaky and clever posting a sneak peek of my completed half square triangles.  They looked lovely, and I thought I would unveil the final project shortly after that.  Um … yeah, that didn’t happen.

Earlier this week, the link party for the HST festival opened up and I didn’t think I would be able to finish this project in time.  I had something to strive for, though, and some time shortly after midnight this morning, I completed the binding of my winter table runner.  Hooray!!

I wanted this to be an obvious “winter” decor item without being holiday themed so I chose to use purple, navy, ice blue, gray and white.  I designed it so that the HSTs of the same color (purple) would form the background for some snowflake appliqués.

That background purple, which I also used in the binding, is great because it has some tone on tone variation so, in person, it really adds some great texture and dimension to the project.  It’s Kona dimensions purple.  In this next photo, you can also see a little bit of the sparkle in the snowflakes.  This white, which I used for the snowflakes and also the outer white border, is Michael Miller Fairy Frost glitz zirconium.

I knew that straight line quilting would be the way to go with this project, but when I was invited to a sew/play date (which I mentioned but never posted about) with Kim, Amy, and Katie, I sought their input and they agreed that some echo quilting following the lines of the chevrons would be lovely.

The back is just pieced with some of the leftover and a few extra half square triangles.

I’m really happy with how this project turned out, and it looks great on my dining table.  Too bad it’s not really appropriate decor for April!  Ha!  At least it will be ready to go when December rolls around!

 

4×5 Bee Blocks, Q1: Double staircase

I am making myself dizzy fretting over fonts.  My husband says I’m OCD.  I disagree.  Slightly obsessive, perhaps, but OCD is a strong word choice.  I think perhaps, I’m just driving him a little mad with all my font talk over the last couple days.  I’ve parsed out the ones that just don’t seem to work and the remainder are all “good.”  “Em!” poor husband exclaimed in exasperation, after I asked his opinion of my header displayed with 8 different tag line fonts, “Just pick one!”  And I think I have …

I’ve looked at so many fonts, though, that I just need to stop for a bit.  So let’s talk about sewing.  Because … um … that’s what this blog is called anyway, right?

I wanted to show you the blocks that I finished for this round of the 4×5 Modern Bee.

This is a block I designed and am calling “double staircase.”  I hope to do a tutorial to show you how to put it together.  If you split it down the middle, the 2 halves are constructed the same way and it can be put together so the “spacer” beneath the stairs is always facing out or always facing down.  For these blocks, it is always facing out so the block is the same right side up or upside down.  Constructed the other way, you could put together a whole quilt with the staircases climbing all the way across it.  It would be a seamless transition between blocks.

While my colors for the bee are no longer yellow and gray, I am working my way through my own sampler quilt with these colors.  I have the fabrics and I want this project to be mine.

Pam‘s colors were sage, pomegranate and ash on a white background.  Pam was in my group last round and I way, way over thought her color choices, but I had them down this round!  When she chose her colors, she was actually referring to the Kona solids, which you can see in this block (I have acquired both colors since last round).  Sage is the second step from the bottom, and pomegranate is in the upper right corner of the block.

Jess wanted yellow, aqua and gray on a white background, which I think makes for a lovely, fresh block.  Great happy, spring colors!

This is the block I had to contemplate the longest this round.  Sarah wanted raspberry and mustard on a gray background.  It’s a unique color combination and I really love how the block turned out.

I am not usually drawn to pink, and I don’t really have a lot of pink fabric in my stash, but I really like how the green and gray come in to play with the pink on a white background in this block.  Jenn picked a great color scheme for a girlie quilt without going overboard on the pink stereotype.

I saved Julie‘s for last because I was hoping to take pictures for a tutorial for this block as I constructed it.  In the end, I only had time at night to sew (what’s the name of this blog again?) and I wanted to get it finished, but night is bad for photos, so I guess I’ll just have to do another in my bee colors: lemon yellow, tangerine, and lime on gray (sounds delicious, no?).  Anyway, Julie’s colors were turquoise or aqua and cerise on a Kona ash background.

And here they are all together.  You can see how if the blocks were constructed with the spacer always on the bottom of the stairs, they would climb continually across a larger project.  I’m actually thinking about using some of my charms for the 5 yard color wheel charm swap for just such a project!

 

Font Snob call to action

I think I have a serious problem.  Sometimes, I can’t just let it be.  Don’t sweat the small stuff, right?  Confession: right now, I’m totally sweating the small stuff.  I have been obsessing over font choice all day.  Seriously.  And it’s been in my mind longer than that.  Admittedly, I am beginning to annoy MYSELF.  Not good, people, not good.

When I admitted just that on Facebook, my friend Liz offered her opinion.  As an easy way for her to see, I’m just going to throw all my fonts up here, and let anyone chime in.  And I hope many do.  Knowledge is power, right?

Here’s the issue: the woman who designed my header, Nicole, did a fantastic job.  While I loved the nice bold Gotham she chose for the main font, I wasn’t content with the secondary font, the one used for the tagline.  I changed it, but my friend Maddie, who has been helping with some web design, suggested that there is a disconnect, stylistically, between that font and the nice, clean style of the Gotham font.  I trust her opinion, and thus, I’ve been font searching and auditioning, looking for something better/more appropriate.  Here are the contenders (I won’t tell you which I’m leaning toward; don’t want to influence your opinion).

EDIT: My cry for help on Facebook elicited some good responses.  

Here is one from my friend, Katie:
I think that Gabrielle is probably my top choice because it is still modern like your logo but not so modern that it feels like it’s trying too hard on the ‘d’s like with Tangerine. I also like that it is italicized and does not take the attention away from your main logo, allowing it to be the focus. My eyes are able to easily move from one thing to the next without being distracted by text that is too bold and it’s easy to decipher. Take this with a grain of salt.

And my cousin Amy had the best “none of the above” response:
Em, Gabrielle is good, but I don’t think the serif font goes with the san-serif headline. Tangerine is the right weight but too many flourishes steal from the thread image. The bolder fonts (like lobster) steal from your bold ‘moonlight’. The serif fonts or ones with embellishments are not stylistically comparable with the Gotham. To juxtaposition your bold modern typeface with something softer in the tagline, find a modern sans serif font either script or italicized. 

Currently in the header: Chantelli Antiqua
Auditioning {in alphabetical order}:

EDIT: All auditioned fonts from the first round can be found in this set on Flickr.  They included Amperzand, Better Heather, Gabrielle, Kingthings Exeter, Lobster, Sail, and Tangerine.  Based on Amy’s suggestion above, here is the next round.  

Aubrey:

Dream Orphans:

Legendum:
 Linux biolinium:

Overlock:

Raspoutine:

Rosario:

After these two rounds and then a little more searching, check out the fonts that made the final call back audition.

 

{Sunset squared}: A quilt block tutorial

Look at that, I finally made a tutorial for this quilt block!  Be warned, this is going to be a picture overload.

This is the block I constructed for the 4×5 Modern Quilt Bee in the 4th Quarter of 2011.  I’ve been intending to make a tutorial every since.

This block is composed of two separate parts: 1. the upper portion (the “sunset”) finishes at 7.5 inches x 12 inches 2. the lower portion (the squares) finishes at 4.5 inches x 12 inches.  [When I say "finishes", I mean when it's sewn into a quilt, the block will be 12.5 x 12.5 inches.]

The upper portion is paper pieced so we will start by making a template and paper piecing those 9 rays.  I am going to use the method of paper piecing in which you fold back the paper along your piecing lines and sew next to it rather than sewing over your lines and tearing the paper off later.  Freezer paper allows the template to stick to your fabric.

First draw a rectangle on the paper side of the freezer paper (as opposed to the waxy side) that is 12 inches x 7.5 inches.  Add another rectangle 1/4 inch to the outside of that one (12.5 inches x 8 inches) to account for your seam allowances.

On the inner rectangle, mark the center of the lower edge.

Find a protractor (ack!  math!) and line it up with the mark you just made on the center of the lower edge.  Mark every 20 degrees all the way around.

[Note: you could also mark every 30 degrees and then you would end up with 6 rays rather than 9.]

Draw lines that extend through the center mark and the every-20-degrees marks, all the way past the edge of your template.

You finished template for the upper portion of this block will have 9 rays that meet at the bottom center of the template.

Choose your fabric for the rays.  You could alternate 2 colors every other ray or select a different fabric for each ray.

Cut your rectangles of your fabric pieces for the rays 3.5 inches wide.  The longest pieces (the two on the corners) will need to be at least 10.5 inches.  I usually cut them at 11 inches so I have some extra fabric to work with.  The others don’t have to be quite that long, so just keep that in mind if you’re working with scraps.

[Assuming the rays are numbered left to right from 1 through 9, the fabric for 3 and 7 should be 11-inches long, the fabric for 2, 4, 6 and 8 should be 10-inches long, the fabric for 5 should be 9-inches long and the fabric for 1 and 9 should be 8-inches long.

Line up the fabric for your first ray with the template.  The wrong side of the fabric should be against the waxy side of the freezer paper.

Iron the freezer paper to the fabric.

Fold back the template along the line between the first and second rays.

Trim the fabric to 1/4 inch beyond the fold.

With right sides together, line up fabric for the second ray with the edge you just trimmed.

Sew the two pieces of fabric together right along the fold of the paper without piercing the paper with your needle.  

Unfold the template.  Iron the second ray open.

Iron the freezer paper to the second ray.

Fold the template back along the line between the second and third rays.

Trim the second ray to 1/4 inch beyond the fold.

Line up the fabric for the third ray even with the edge you just cut, right sides of fabric together.  Sew right along the fold without piercing the paper with your needle.

Unfold the template.

Iron the third ray open.  Be careful not to touch your iron to the waxy side of the freezer paper.

Iron the freezer paper to the third fabric ray.

Fold back the template between the third and forth rays and then trim the third ray to 1/4 inch beyond the fold.

Continue with these steps until you have completed all 9 rays.  Trim around the template.

I like to trim the bottom even with the seam allowance line and add an extra 1/4 inch on the 3 remaining sides so that I have a little extra fabric available for squaring up the block at the end.

Ta da!  Congratulations, you’ve finished the upper portion of this block.  The rest is easy.

Cut out 6 2-inch squares of fabric.  I like to use the parts I cut off the rays from the upper portion of the block.

From a background fabric, cut 2 2-inch squares and 2 2-inch x 12-3/4 inch strips (they really only have to be 12.5 inches, but again, I prefer to have the extra little bit and then trim it at the end).

Sew the squares together with a 1/4-inch seam allowance, creating a 2-inch wide strip.  Make sure the two squares from the background fabric are on the ends of the strip.

Sew the three 2-inch strips together with the pieces strip in the middle of the two background fabric strips.

Sew the top portion to the bottom portion, taking care as you go over the middle, which will be rather thick from where all the rays came together.

Trim your block to 12.5 inches, square.

Voila!  Sunset squared!

How to design a quilt block

Okay, so “how to design a quilt block” is maybe a little too general.  What I’m actually going to tell you is how I designed the block I’m making for the current quarter of the 4×5 Modern Quilt Bee.

I talked about how this online quilt bee works last quarter (before I moved all my sewing related posts over here), which was my first participating, but here’s a quick refresher.  I’m in a group with 5 other ladies (men could play, too, but quilters tend to be women).  We each indicate our color choices and a background color (usually white, ivory, gray, black).  I make 5 quilt blocks of the same design, using the specific color choices of my group members in each block.  They, in turn, do the same, and I receive 5 quilt blocks of different designs, all in my chosen color scheme.  Four times a year, the deadline occurs and then the groups change.

This time, I started out sketching two possible block designs.  

I love the stars.  And I thought I was being all clever and original with the 3 different sized stars in the same block.  Ha!  As we were chatting about our blocks in the group forum, Sarah mentioned that she was thinking about stars for her block as well.  She had already picked a star block.  It’s published in a book called Modern Blocks.  It’s called Stargazing.

[http://www.flickr.com/photos/tweedledeedesigns/6285885153/]

Yeah, pretty much the same block I drew.  As I don’t ever recall seeing it before I drew it, I’m not as clever and original as I thought I was, it seems.

Anyway.  On to Plan B.  The stacked bricks design.  But I didn’t really like that little rectangle-in-a-diamond on the left of the above drawing.  So I kept playing with that concept.  That resulted in a couple more sketches.

The first one was too cluttered.  The second one also wasn’t making me very excited, but I can’t put my finger on exactly what about it turned me off.  I kept playing and sketching and ended up with the concept of two rows of bricks “moving” in the same direction, and I added a little separation between each brick.  And now they look like stair steps to me.

The next page in my notebook is completely unrelated; I just threw in another possible design.  Looks like a patchwork river to me; I may revisit this idea later.

And, we’re back to the double staircases.  I drew out the design again, this time trying to figure out what would work in terms of size and placement of all the pieces.  I had to determine how big I wanted the “steps” (width + height), how much I wanted them to overlap with one another, how much background fabric I wanted separating them both horizontally and vertically, etc.

Okay, now that I’ve determined my proportions of all the parts, I now have to figure out the best way to cut out the fabric and put it together.  I spend the next four pages working on that.

Finally, I arrive at the cutting layout here, on the left.  Ta da!  (see how I even put a star on the page?  A star.  Like a 2nd grade spelling test.  I gave myself a star.  Good job … me?  *rolls eyes*.  I digress … )

And after all that, we get to: the manifestation of the design in fabric.  Hooray!

In this particular design, the block is the same right-side up and upside down.  The spacers of background fabric are below the bottom 4 rectangles of color and above the upper 4 rectangles of color.

I’m already thinking about a variation of this block into a whole quilt design where the spacer of background fabric is always on the bottom, for example, and then the steps will continue to climb without interruption across a whole quilt.  Perhaps a rainbow of stairs?  I’m thinking this would be a great project to use those color wheel charm squares I’m expecting.  It just so happens that the stairs are cut at 5 inches wide, the exact width of a charm square.

My creative process

The free form quilt bee in which I’m currently participating is great for working on my creativity.  Because the whole idea of this group project is “anything goes,” it’s a great exercise to really allow myself to explore creatively through fabric.  This is only month 3 of 8 and I’m already having a great time with this project.

For the month of March, I have Nichol‘s quilt to add to.  I thought I’d take you through what’s been going on in my mind as I work on her addition.

Here is what arrived in the mail:

Part of this group project is a project journal.  We each included a small journal with our starter block and the intention is that each person who works on this quilt will share a little something about her process, what she added, what inspired her about the quilt.  This is what I wrote in Nichol’s journal:

First impressions: the quilt looks really “fresh.”  I think the yellow + green additions really amplify that.  I’m tuning in to the theme of curves a little bit: the arch of the butterflies’ wings, the little circles in the first fram around the center butterfly, the centers of the flowers, the bicycles tires.  Not to mention Bernie’s lovely curved addition to your project.  

Perhaps 3 quarters of a circle around one of the corners, some circle appliqués along the side … 

My first step was to pull some fabric out of my stash that I thought would coordinate with this project.  When working on something like this, that also sometimes means purchasing a little bit of fabric if there’s something I think is missing.  In this case, though, I had everything on hand.

When I was thinking about circles, I thought perhaps some sort of arch would be a nice addition.  I had Katie‘s mini quilt in the back of mind.  Then I decided to try a New York Beauty block.  There has been a lot of recent chatter in the blogging-quilting community recently about a New York Beauty quilt along (every one makes a block, with a different blogger hosting a new block each week) and I was definitely inspired by a few different blog posts relating to those blocks.

The New York beauty blocks are paper pieced and thus a touch more difficult/time consuming than a “normal” quilt block (that’s relative, of course), so I originally thought I would just do one in one of the corner and then complete my addition along two sides with something a little easier to construct.

Then, I thought perhaps I would do three New York Beauty blocks to surround one corner.

Then I got sort of carried away as I was cutting them out and ended up with the pieces for eight!  Hmmm … so, I suppose this idea has evolved into all New York Beauty blocks along two sides.

I have completed 4 of these lovlies so far.  So, I’m already half way finished with my goal number.  I did stay up until after midnight last night finishing “just one more,” though.  Oops.

I’m a little bit in love with how they look all together as a completed circle and I will have to keep these blocks in my mind for something for myself or another project in the future.

As for the addition to Nichol’s quilt, it’s looking like this so far.

I think I might add a solid border before I add the New York beauty blocks.  What do you think?  Border or no?  Two sides or all the way ’round?

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.