WIP Wednesday: the list goes on

I’m super late with this post, but I wanted to mail one last pile ‘o things before I wrote it.  But I missed the post office being open by literally 90 seconds.  So I went to another post office: mission accomplished.  By the time I got home, it was time for dinner, then I went to yoga, then this here computer was monopolized by one passionate hockey fan.

So, here we go!

I want to review my list from last week, because I feel like I actually checked a few things off it: hooray!

1. finish last bee block for 4×5 Bee: DONE!

2. Get all 5 4×5 Bee blocks in the mail: this is what I was doing before I could write this post.  So, DONE!

3. Mail other projects to their destinations.  Done, done, and done!  Also, I seriously don’t know why I have such a problem with this last step of “get it in the mail.”

4.  Five mei tais.  Progress has been made.  I started out the week with just one cut out. Now, I have all the pieces for 4/5 cut out.  I went to a sewing/play date Monday with Kim, Amy and Katie, and while I didn’t do any sewing, I did get those all cut out.  (more on that later.)  I also now have straps cut out and sewn up for three of them.

5.  Be Free Bees April quilt.  No progress.  Though, I have thought about it and I’m pretty sure I know what I want to do with it.

6.  Jenn’s (slightly really, really late) Christmas gift.  Done and mailed.

7.  Jenn’s birthday gift.  Done and mailed.  

8.  Curtain tie backs.  No progress. 

9.  Winter HST table runner.  Some progress.  This table runner has four snowflake appliqués.  Last week, only one was finished.  Now, all four are finished.  Still has to be backed, quilted and bound.

10.  Tote bags.  No progress.  

11.  Gathered clutches.  No progress.  

Additionally, my friend Maddie came over for some late night sewing this week, and we got a skirt for her cut out and started putting it together.

So, here’s the works in progress for this week:

1.  Five mei tais.
2.  Be Free Bees April quilt.
3.  Curtain tie backs.  This should actually be a relatively easy project.  I just need to make it a priority in order to get it done.
4.  Winter HST table runner.  I need to decide on and piece the back, then do the quilting. I actually got some good advice on the quilting during the sewing/play date I mentioned earlier so I would love to get this done because I’m so excited to see it finished!!
5.  Tote bags.  I would love to get the top borders on these and the inside linings cut out.
6.  Gathered clutches.  I must finish one.  I must!  I also want to cut out the pieces for a few more.
7.  I pulled the fabric for one more of the “double staircase” blocks I did for the 4×5 Bee.  I’d love to do another tutorial.
8.  While only peripherally related, I am almost finished designing my business cards for my blog/not-yet-in-existence-business.  I need to finish that up and get them ordered.
9.  In a similar vein, I would like to start the process of ordering woven labels for my products.


April showers bring May flowers

I recently helped host a baby sprinkle (like a baby shower, but smaller in scale) for my friend Laura.  We didn’t go all out with a theme, per se, but my co-hostess and I tossed around the idea of “April showers bring May flowers.”  The shower was in April; Laura is expecting a little girl in May … makes sense, right?

Anyway, I put together a couple of do it yourself decorations to represent the theme.  The first was a raindrop garland, following the tutorial at Made.

It was beyond easy to make, and came together pretty quickly.  I took the various shades of blue out of a couple multi packs of felt sheets and stacked two together at a time.  I drew raindrops of various sizes on the top felt sheet and then cut them out.  After that, I just made a pile of mixed raindrops next to my sewing machine and grabbed them in a mostly random manner as I stuck them through my machine.

It is a little delicate since the thread between each raindrop is just polyester sewing machine thread.  This garland would have been stronger if I had sewn the raindrops together top to bottom, so felt was always touching felt without any open space between.  But, I wanted the raindrops to hang down in the same direction and not end up with upside down raindrops.  Or, I could have attached each hanging down raindrop to a stronger piece of ribbon or string that extended along the length of the garland.  Next time, perhaps, but you can keep that in mind if you make one.

So that covers the “showers” part of the theme.  You can see the “flowers” part of theme in  the raindrop garland pictures.  This was also a pretty simple project, and my 3-year-old even helped with part of it!

I think I saw this idea in Disney Family Fun magazine (could have been Martha Stewart), but for the life of me, I can’t find it now to confirm that, nor could I locate this project online.  Anyway.  I bought the flower shaped paper punch specifically for this project, and I could definitely see myself making this project again.  It was easy, fun, and turned out really great!

You’ll need:
A styrofoam wreath form
3 yards (depending on the size of your wreath) of wide ribbon
a length of ribbon for hanging
flower shaped paper punch
various colors of scrapbook paper or lightweight cardstock
pins (I used the jewel head kind with the pretty colors!)
scissors (to cut ribbon)

I started out by punching out a pile of paper flower shapes because I wanted all my materials ready to go.  If you prefer you could probably punch them out as you go to avoid having any extra flowers lying about.

I had … (ahem) … “help” with this step.

Next, prepare your wreath form by wrapping it in ribbon.  I started out by securing one end  of ribbon to the back of the wreath with 3 pins and then wrapping around them to hold it in place.  I wrapped it pretty snuggly, and just let the ribbon form little gathers as I went around.  When I had covered the entire wreath with ribbon, I simply secured the loose end to the back of the wreath with a few more pins.

Now, start pinning on your flowers.  Just stick a pin through the center of the paper flower and into the styrofoam wreath.  I started out using single flowers and then I realized that my flower punch was designed so that if I staggered two paper flower on top of one another, I had a perfect double flower.  So I took them all out and started again.  You could cover the entire wreath if you were so inclined, but I “artfully” (ha ha) left some of the ribbon exposed.

Then I made another one (but somehow failed to take a picture of it).  One adorned the door to greet guests as they entered the party.  The other decorated the mantle with the raindrop garland.  They were a great backdrop for Laura opening her surprises for her baby girl!


The giant shower cap, I mean, shopping cart cover

My friend Sarah appreciates handcrafted items.  She shops on etsy (I do, too!).  Recently she was looking for a particular handmade item and she asked me if she could give me the business rather than someone she didn’t know.

While I had never made a shopping cart cover before, it seemed like something that I could put together.  I purchased a pattern, but then didn’t like it, so I ended up reading about 4 different shopping cart cover tutorials online and then just going for it.

Here it is before I put the elastic in it.  It’s basically a giant square with rounded corners and leg holes.  With a shopping cart cover you can keep it simple with just two layers of fabric (or even one, I suppose) and it will pack up pretty small.  However, Sarah requested a little bit of cushioning for her little guy.  I used two layers of quilting cotton with a layer of fleece sandwiched in the middle.  You sacrifice a little “packability” in exchange for a softer ride for baby.

This Valori Wells Karavan print is just stunning.  The pictures don’t do it justice.  The elephants and the color scheme make it appropriate for a little boy, but the subtle flower pattern in the elephants mean you could also use it for a girl.

I added a little pocket with an elastic top that should be big enough for a sippy cup.  I measured a shopping cart, so I think the placement should be right, but you just never know until you put it in the cart, and I never did.  I hope it works!

I also added a little loop that can be used to clip on a toy or pacifier.  And you can also see the edge of the leg holes in this next pictures.  This is the part of this project that gave me the most trouble.  I originally tried to close them with bias trim, but the curves made that really difficult and it wasn’t up to my standards.  I ended up ripping all that off and then just tucking the edges under and topstitching them closed close to the edge.

I made a little cinch sac to match so Sarah can roll it up and stuff it in and it will be easy to grab next time.

Here it is after I put the elastic in: you see why I think it looks like a giant shower cap (does anyone other than mother actually use a shower cap?)?

All ready to pack up and go!

WIP Wednesday: The List is Long

Lee at Freshly Piece hold a works in progress (WIP) link up party most Wednesday.  I don’t usually play.  But this week, I really wanted to get all these projects out there for the world to see.  I’m hoping it will inspire me to get cracking and finish them up.

1.  I have one more block to finish up for the 1st Quarter of the 4×5 Bee.  This is due to be mailed by April 15th, and I’m nearly there, so I’m not worried about finishing this in time.

2.  I need to mail that finished block and the other 4, which I should have mailed as I finished them, but now I will just wait and mail them all together.  I also need to write a post about these blocks since they are done.

3.  Mailing things counts as a work in progress, right?  In my house, yes, yes, it does.  Because I can be totally finished and then not mail the damn thing.  Seriously, I really need to work on my follow through.

In fact, Alisha, I am so, so sorry that your mei tai is still in Virginia and NOT in Japan, where it should be.  I went to package it up and found that I had forgotten some securing stitches.  While not essential, they will ensure that the carrier lasts longer, and then I just didn’t finish them.  That carrier just sat and sat on my pile.  Do you know how long it took me to finish it up?  Twelve minutes.  I suck.  Anyway, it is now, finished, packaged, and ready to go!

4.  Mei tais!  Five of them!   I spent March trying to clear a few things from my “to do” list so that I could tackle this list of mei tais.  Indira is first up, followed by Hilary, then 3 others, and maybe two more that have been mentioned to me but I don’t have confirmation or fabric for those.  Phew!

5.  This is my quilt for April in the Be Free Bees free form quilt bee.  I just received it the day before yesterday and I have until the end of April to complete and mail to the next person.  I must admit, this is one is giving me a bit of trouble out of the gate.  The other two I worked on, I had an idea of what I wanted to do as soon as I saw them.  This one is going to require a little more thought.

6.  This is my sister Jenn’s Christmas present.  No, not this coming Christmas.  Last Christmas.  The one that was three and a half month ago.  I don’t feel that badly because we didn’t really exchange gifts, but I still want to give this to her.

7.  Jenn’s birthday is coming up this week, so now it will be a Christmas/birthday present. And since I’m so late with the Christmas giving, I did something extra hard for the birthday portion.  The little squares in this patchwork (soon to be) pouch are just 1 inch on each side.

8.  This should be a quick project that I’m doing for a friend.  Curtain tie backs for new curtains using the old tie back as a template.

9.  This is my winter table runner.  I planned to finish it last fall so I could use it, you know, in the winter.  Clearly, that did not happy.  However, it is composed of half square triangles (HSTs).  And there is a Festival of HSTs going around the quilting/blogging community right now, so I’m inspired to pull it out.  I can finish it up and then it will be done ahead of schedule for next winter!  (maybe)

10.  Remember when I started this blog to go along with that little sewing business I’m hoping to get off the ground?  Yeah.  Well, I’ve had other projects and haven’t really done any sewing for the business.  However, these fabrics are destined to be 6 Luna Bags (that’s what I”m calling them): the essential tote.

11.  Another project for the business: a gathered clutch, like the one I carry.  One to sell, and one for my friend Lorae, which I promised her back in January.  They’ve both been cut out since then and it’s time they stop languishing in my “to do” list.

I’ll be back next week to tell you what kind of progress I made.  Speaking of progress, the progress I publicly declared I would make for Amy’s One Thing One Week Challenge was to finish that last 4×5 Bee Block and finish 1 mei tai.  If those things happen, this week will be a success!

A little finish for Sarah

I’ve been trying to clean up my sewing “to do” list and check off some things that have been hanging out on there.

My friend Sarah had asked me to make her a changing pad that matched her diaper bag, and I finally go that finished up.  I decided to make an absorbent pad because I feel the waterproof sort just let accidents slide off and all over baby.  This one can just be thrown in the wash if it happens to get piddled upon.

It’s 3 layers of fabric: the pretty gray print that matches Sarah’s bag, a layer of terry cloth, and an inner layer of an absorbent material that’s used in some cloth diapers.  The three layers make it nice an cushy for baby to lie on.

It folds up for travel and closes with a cute little button and elastic loop.

Little stack of squares

Or maybe that should be BIG stack of little squares.  Five inch squares, 280 of them.

Why, oh, why do I have a stack of 280, 5-inch squares of fabric, all in the red-orange color family?

Because I’m going to trade them as part of a fabric swap!  It’s like trading cards for the fabric lover.  Kati at from the blue chair organized a monster 5-yard color wheel charm swap.  I realize that last sentence may not make sense at all, but I’m pretty excited about it.  Apparently, 55 other people are really excited about it too because the available slots for this swap filled up in five minutes.  Five minutes!  It’s a fabric craze!

I need to give a quick shout-out to Lyanna at Purple Panda Quilts because she signed me up for the swap since I was in Chicago and didn’t know if I would be able to log on when the swap opened.   Without her, no collection of fabric trading cards for me!

A charm square is a pre-cut 5-inch square of fabric.  Fabric manufacturers often produce a charm square pack of a particular fabric line so you can get a little taste of the entire collection.  These little squares are great to use in patchwork and quilting.

In this color wheel charm swap, there are 56 participants.  Each person was assigned a particular color and purchased 5 yards of fabric in that color group.  We cut them up into charm squares and mailed them off to Kati.  I, obviously, was assigned to the red-orange group.  The directions were to purchase 4 prints and one solid in your assigned color.

Kati has the massive undertaking of sorting 280 YARDS OF FABRIC into 56 different packages and putting them back in the mail.  Yikes.  I think I may need to send her a thank you gift for all that work.  Phew!

Some time next month, I will receive a package with 280 charm squares, five total yards, in all colors of the rainbow, plus black and white.  It will be like Christmas in April.  Hooray!

One thing, one week challenge: Ruffle skirt

It’s been a little quiet on the sewing blog.  We were out of town, so no sewing.  And since we’ve been back, I’ve been working on some things, but no finishes.  I suppose I could just show you what’s in the works, though (except for the secret. project.  I can’t show you that yet.).

A few weeks ago, I told you I was going to make a ruffle skirt for Sierra and asked for your thoughts regarding the coordinating fabric.  After considering the input, I ultimately decided to use: none of the above.  I know, the indecisive creative mind at work.  I was finally ready to get going making that skirt I had intended for months and months.  And then it sat in my sewing room for three more weeks.  Sheesh!

Last week, Amy posted another One Thing, One Week Challenge and I set my challenge to finish this skirt.  So, when did I finally finish it (with challenge finish deadline of today)?  12:28 this morning.  But!  It is finished!

Amy's Creative Side
Since I know you’re just sitting on the edge of your seat to see how it turned out, without further ado: Sierra’s ruffle skirt!
I ended up using this print by Carina Gardner.  While I do love the other fabrics I paired with it (the reason I own them!), I wanted something a little more spring-y or summer-y, and all but one of those were pretty dark.
Sierra put the skirt to the “twirl test” and … it passed!
It’s also great for stalking birds.  With an insect net.  She did not catch any birds.  She did catch a pinecone.

Connections: One more mei tai

My friends received one of my mei tais from a mutual friend as a baby gift.  They loved it so much, they asked me to make one for his sister.  And she liked hers so much, I have now made one for her sister.  I’m thrilled to hear that babies are being loved in these carriers that I’ve made and that mamas and daddies enjoy them so much they want to share the love.

This one has a pretty green floral print from Moda Basic Grey and brown twill straps.

The reverse side is a Hoffman batik.  I am loving these hand-dyed look batiks from Hoffman Fabrics.  They have such an interesting quality to them, and they come in so many colors.  I own a yard of one that looks like a sunset.  I can’t wait to create something with that!

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).