March 30, 2013

Quilted tote – first experience with bag-making and English Paper Piecing quilting

Finally finished this birthday present for one of my favorite people. This is one of the most fun and favorite things I’ve made, and it was so great getting to think of my friend while making it.

It was my first time with bag making and English paper piecing (the hand sewn hexagons, which are possible to do on the way to the ski area in the car not to mention during a hot bath while listening to a book on tape (talk about multitasking)).

I really loved the combination of sewing something useful like a bag with quilting to make it unique and decorative. I even already started another one, and I can’t wait to get into smaller, zippered pouches.

I used a charm pack of Jay McCarroll’s Center City fabric collection for the hexagons. I just love this line of urban deliciousness. I am thinking about picking up some larger pieces before it is all gone—some of the prints would make amazing summer shirts and skirts.

I learned how to make the bag by watching the free Bag-Making Basics class on, and I learned about English Paper Piecing by watching one of the lessons that’s part of the free Block of Month 2012 class also on

March 23, 2013

Oil pastels are better than regular crayons for toddlers

A toddler specialist ( suggested buying oil pastels for the younger ones to draw with, because you don't have to push as hard as crayons to get bold colors, and they were a huge success. Our 20-month-old not only created something great, he also colored longer than usual! Here's a link to the ones we bought:
My little Picasso loves his oil pastels. by SincerelyStacy

March 17, 2013

Emerald Quilt Challenge entries - my first challenge

Happy St Patty's Day! I'm entering two quilts in the Emerald Quilt Challenge, which is a quilting challenge based on using mainly the color Emerald. Emerald is the Pantone color of the year. (Prior to quilting, I would have never know what that meant to the design industry.)

You can enter up to three quilts: a mini-quilt, a quilt topper, and a fully completed quilt. I am entering two. Here are the quilts and a ton of what I learned making them.

Mini-Quilt 12.5 x 12.5 (The colors are bolder than the picture displays, but it's close enough)


What I learned:
  1. My sewing machine is cheap and old with bad tension I don't think I can ever fix. That's why I have thread problems sometimes, which can impact the smoothness of the fabric. But I am learning how important tension is.
  2. I also got more experience with paper piecing, as the mini-quilt was fully paper pieced. I used one of the October patterns (and video tutorial) from the 2012 Craftsy Block of the Month, and made a slight alteration to make the star a little larger. Paper piecing is really cool but not something I can do very quickly yet. I'd like to do it again but make sure I have more adequate time. I kept cutting the pieces of fabric too big. That's why the center circle has two different fabrics when I'd prefer it have one.
  3. I also trimmed some corners when I should not have, so I had to sew the block together with a larger seam allowance, impacting how several seams line up.
  4. I had a lesson in color choice--I actually like how the colors turned out more than I thought I would, but I might rethink some of them like making the center circle a lot darker or lighter next time and perhaps switching the ice cream fabric with the bold solids. However, that's part of what makes this block unique.
  5. And finally, I thought I had totally ruined this block, so I just had fun with the quilting and like how it turned out. I want to take a free motion quilting class as soon as I get a new sewing machine that can handle it.
Quilt Topper 33"x33"


What I learned:
  1. I learned that I can use Microsoft Word to design a quilt pretty easily. See prior post here.
  2. I am going to read more about the best ways to sew together a quilt with so many squares. After this one and the paper piecing mini above, I can't wait to do a more free-form quilt where I don't have to have so many perfectly matching seams. I don't know if free-form is more my style or if I'm just experiencing needing to increase my skill set level on square quilts, but this quilt wasn't east.
  3. This is the first challenge I've done. I felt a bit limited both due to time and having design requirements. I kept wanting to add more color and wanted more time to do new things, but such is life!

March 10, 2013

My first dresden quilt block complete

Finally finished my mom's birthday present (her birthday was Feb 2 - I have been showing her progress to build excitement and to let her know I haven't forgotten, lol). See this prior post, for example.
The front

The back

One of my other favorite hobbies is snowboarding. I finished hand sewing the binding after a long day, cold, with the heat blasting in my car in the parking lot of the ski area while I was waiting for my husband who was doing one more run. And I have to say, I really enjoyed having some hand sewing for the road.

As soon as I was done, my husband got back to the warm car, which he appreciated, and we drove to my mom's house to have family dinner and pick up the baby (she and my dad live in the ski resort towns; very lucky for us), and I presented her, her completed present. And she loves it. I can't wait to make her something else soon!

March 4, 2013

Using Microsoft Word (software you probably already have) to plan quilts

I have not been quilting long enough to justify buying software to help visualize and design quilts I’d like to make, so I decided to use Microsoft Word, software that’s installed on most personal computers these days and which I use every day at work.

I wasn’t sure if it would work at first, but actually, I am happy with the results. I started by creating a basic table with 10 cells across and 10 cells down and with borders turned on. Then I just started applying color to the different table cells to build a design. The pixelated flower design was the first one I attempted and was total freeform—as I had no care how the size or design turned out—I was literally just playing around seeing if the software would suffice for my design needs.

The other project I am planning are a couple jungle themed baby quilts. I have some really great fabric with bright colors and snakes, lions, monkeys, etc that I want to emphasize with some kind of square block design. For weeks I’ve been visualizing wanting to design a really colorful, solid border, so after creating the pixelated flower in Word software, I decided to use the same process for getting the jungle quilt out of my head and on paper, and voilĂ , it worked great. The results match almost exactly what I’ve been dreaming up in my head, plus the process of using the software helped add ideas I hadn’t thought of—such as the yellow squares in the corners.

Very excited to feel like I don’t have to buy specialized software to do detailed planning. At some point I plan to write up more about the process of using software you probably already have on your computer to design quilts. But for now, I’ve got some quilts to work on!

March 1, 2013

Claiming my blog on Bloglovin

Apparently you have to create this post in order to claim your blog on the Bloglovin' reader, so that's all this post if for. :)

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