Monday, December 31, 2012

Christmas Tablerunner

It's still part of the 12 days of Christmas, right? Look what came in the post!!

It's the tablerunner that my swap partner, Jan, made for me as part of the Modern Christmas Tablerunner! Isn't it marvelous?! Look at it close up . .  .

Isn't that penguin fabric in the center so great?! I just love love love it! There is just a bit of Christmasy fabric here and there (an odd tree fabric and such, which I also love), but it is mostly  non-holiday fabric used to effect a holiday style when used with holiday table wear and poinsettias and such . . .  but it looks like I can use it year-round if I use it with regular non-holiday table wear because the fabric is mostly non-holiday. Yay!! I just love it and think it is amazing! The quilting on it is gorgeous! This is the second year that I have participated in the modern tablerunner swap and I have been so graced with amazingly talented and generous swap partners! I am so lucky!

And look at the great ornament I received too:

So great!! The pups went right to the tree and checked it out and both approved!

Now that all gifts have been given I can start reporting on my holiday sewing activities, so stay tuned for future crafty updates!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Elves busy at work!

Happy holiday season everyone!

The household has finally emerged from 3 solid weeks of battling the plague, just in time to finish up last-minute sewing and quilting projects, tackle holiday cards, and ship off gifts to the four corners of the globe. Phew! I've been doing a ton of sewing lately, but most of it has to stay under wraps until the gifts are unwrapped! 

I'm not good at keeping secrets, however, so I did let Karen open her gift early. Here's the pieced border scrap quilt which I've been working on recently: 


It's 65x65 (I'm not one for standard-size quilts if it's not meant for a bed), so it's a perfect snuggle nap quilt. I contemplated (briefly) quilting concentric squares in the white, but my little machine has such a small neck I couldn't bear the thought of wrestling with the quilt that much almost broke me! So, I stuck with the straight line approach. Not too exciting, but it's much easier to manage with my machine! 

Other projects will have to wait for their reveal until after the holidays!

Okay, back to the salt mines; more holiday cards to send off!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Tablerunner Finish!

Sorry for the brief radio silence . . . I had a work conference in Denver and then the Thanksgiving holiday, so am just now trying to catch up!

On other fronts, yay, I'm done! Thanks to the amazing head start I got at the Utah Valley Quilt Guild retreat last month, I finished my tablerunner for the Modern Christmas Tablerunner Swap I'm doing on Flickr!

From checking out my partner's mosaic I figured out that she (along with several other people!) kinda liked trees. Fortunately, that's sort of my paper piecing thing. I've recently discovered these stars, so I thought I'd combine the overlapping trees with some stars.

I had originally finished the first panel of trees (meaning I had finished a set of three trees), when I discovered that the big tree was too short. The bottom of the tree came too close to the bottom of the bottom of the tree on the left, and it looked all wrong. I was so frustrated, because I loved the fabric and everything else about the trees! But back to the drawing board I went and redrafted the pattern for the trees and started over (insert sad emoticon here!).

One of my goals for this tablerunner was to use a lot of non-holiday fabrics. I love the way that bright modern fabrics can be used to make something look holiday appropriate without being explicitly holiday themed.

I did use Riley Blake's Doodlebug Design Santa Santa's Workshop Snowflake fabric throughout the piano key border and in the stars, but other than that I relied on the reds, greens, and turquoises in my stash. I particularly love how the American Jane Punctuation looks like ornaments in the trees! I also have a weakness for birds, so I always try to sneak a bird fabric or two (or three!) into my trees! That's Cloud 9 Heron fabric on the bottom. I also used P&B Textiles' Velocity Feed the Birds in there too. 

So, my tablerunner is pretty much ready to go! I just need to make a Christmas tree ornament. I'm strangely stumped about what to do . . .  any suggestions??

Monday, November 12, 2012

More News and Views From the Retreat

So. I think I've finally caught up on my sleep after 4 straight days of sewing! My neck, however, has not quite forgiven me for staring straight at my sewing machine for so long! I can only imagine what we looked like--a room filled with 76 women seated at their sewing machines from 7 a.m. until past midnight! One man stopped by and asked if we were all part of a sweatshop! I replied that I didn't sew nearly fast enough to keep my job if that had been the case!

Apparently, it was snowing up quite a storm outside, but we were in a windowless conference center, fairly removed from the world outside. This is what it looked like at home:

We also apparently elected a president and quite a few senators and congresspeople while we were away at retreat as well . . .  kind of surreal how the world marches on! It was strange actually; I kept checking my iPad for news, but it didn't seem that anyone had their TVs on or were talking (much) about politics. I did, however, get cornered a few times (I'm really not sure why!) and was asked my opinion on presidential politics. A very dicey question in Utah! But no worries . . .  I'm not about to launch into a diatribe on my stance on foreign policy, healthcare, or even more delicate issues! Not in this post, at least! ;-)

Now, back to the retreat itself! First of all, as I mentioned yesterday, I got there a day early so that I wouldn't have to get up at the crack of dawn to drive up to Park City on Wednesday morning. I'm so glad I did! I was able to get my bearings, set up my sewing area, meet some people, and, best of all, hang with my roomie Sue! I wish I could link to her blog, but she doesn't blog . . . yet (hint, hint, Sue!). Sue, knows that I'm a bit out of my element here in Utah, as I'm really an East Coast ocean girl in my heart and soul. And being the sweetie that she is, look at what she gave me as a retreat roomie gift!!

A whole fat quarter bundle of Emily Herrick's totally fabulous Going Coastal collection! Yay! I'm beyond thrilled with these goodies! I've never had a whole, entire fat quarter bundle before and I'm frankly somewhat beside myself! Sue had given me some samples from the line a while back, but that just whetted my appetite for more, and now I have it all! If you don't know this line, definitely check it out. It has flamingos, sea kelp, lobsters, madras, sailboats and other fun designs. So fabulous!

I have a great pattern of Emily's, Cabana, that I already have in mind for the fabric. I have the person in mind to give the finished quilt to, as well, but that part is top secret as I think she reads the blog . . . so more on her secret identity and her special story after the quilt is gifted. I will blog along as work on this quilt, however, so you will get to see this one in progress!

There were some goodies for sale at the retreat, but I was oh so restrained!! $3 half yards, patterns, and all sorts of other goodies. I'm sure you can just imagine what the sale area looked like . . .  sort of like the stores on Black Friday (after Thanksgiving). Nothing like offering sales on fabric to quilters! It was bedlam. I braved the bevy of ladies, but I held myself back and this is all I succumbed to:

Pretty restrained, eh?! I'm fairly proud of myself!

Now, on a non-retreat front, I have some exciting news . . . I won something as part of Amy's Blogger's Quilt Festival!! If you haven't gone over to her site yet to check out the totally amazing talent on the festival, stop reading this right now and head on over to see! I mean it! I'll still be here when you come back! I summoned up my courage and posted my Mama Lilly quilt on the BQF this year, which was fairly daunting given the gorgeous and completely professional work people presented, but as this was my first year of sewing and my first year I completed any quilts I thought it was a good risk to take. And I was rewarded with a $25 gift certificate at Fabricworm! Clearly not for my quilt, just one of those lucky draws! Yay! Because who doesn't love fabric?! And Fabricworm is a great store with an amazing selection of distinctive fabrics.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Recovering from Retreat!

I'm back!! I just had the most fabulous 4 days retreating with the Utah Valley Quilt Guild in Park City. It almost turned into a longer retreat as we got socked in with a snowstorm! I loved it! There were 76 quilters . . . so amazingly talented with such diverse skills! I arrived the night before (Tuesday) and was able to get my area set up so I was ready to jump in first thing Wednesday morning. Good thing, as I set far too large an agenda for such a relatively short time (I know, I know, 4 days is really a long time, but not for the 12 projects I wanted to complete)!! 

Nevertheless, I'm so thrilled with what I accomplished. In ramping up before the retreat I had been prepping my pieced scrap border quilt strips so that I'd be ready to assemble the blocks. I actually had finished all but about 20 of the blocks before the retreat, so at the retreat I was able to finish that up, piece together the rows of alternating white and pieced blocks, and then finally sew it all together. My final goal was to baste the quilt before I returned home. I knew that I'd never get as good a baste as I could get on two tables pushed together (picture instead me at home: the quilt laid out on the carpeted floor, the dog hair flying through the air, with the dogs trying to lie down on the quilt top -- hopeless!). So, here she is! 

Now "all" I have to do is quilt and bind it, and I'll be done! My current idea (thanks Machelle!!) is to do concentric squares inside the squares. I do think that much spinning in circles on my little machine may drive me a bit dizzy, however!

While at the retreat, I also worked on the tablerunner for the swap. Here's the design I've come up with (again, with much help from the amazing women at my table!!). Thank you Sue, Vonda, Michelle, and Machelle! I was originally going to have the trees facing each other in the other direction (picture the shorter end of the table?), but Sue steered me in this direction instead, which I love!

 This is a closeup of one set of the trees. It was a bit of a monster to design the paper piecing pattern. Isn't it funny how simple it looks once it's done? I had to sew and unpick that tree on the left about 3 or 4 times because I first couldn't get the left line of the bottom of the big tree to align with the left line of the top of the tree, and then my tree trunk on the little tree on the left somehow ended up on the far left of the tree. Sigh. You know how some people wear little scissors around their neck when they're sewing? I think I need to wear my seam ripper instead!

There's lots more to tell about the retreat, so stay tuned for more in another post, but I'm oh so tired! Before I close up shop for the day, however, let me give a shout out to my retreat roomie, Sue. She was a great partner in crime, taught me so much, and kept me so entertained throughout the retreat! And hi to Robyn too! If you haven't yet, go check out her great blog. Look at what she can make!!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


Oh, the bags are packed, and I'm ready to go . . . . And yet, these are just the sewing bags!! These don't include any of my clothes!!

I'm headed off this afternoon to Park City for my Utah Valley Quilt Guild Retreat. Wahoo! Here's to three and a half wonderful days of sewing, quilting, and camaraderie! Stay tuned! I will try to keep posting throughout!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Getting Ready for Retreat

Do you remember packing up for summer camp when you were a kid? The packing would begin with excitement weeks before departure day. Now, I'm not talking about packing clothes and necessities -- that, my mother would largely take care of (thanks Mom!). No, I'm talking about the fun stuff. The flashlight that had what seemed like 15 different flashing functions (as if I was going camping alongside the Alaskan Coast Guard station), the 32 snack assortments, the hot pink fan (yes, Ella, I know you would have wanted that one!), the walkman I had wanted forEVER, the Sweet Valley High novels (remember those?), etc.

I would pack and repack, add more things to the ever-burgeoning piles, try to cram the lid shut on the oh so nifty trunk we had purchased at the Army-Navy surplus store. I was so thrilled to be going to camp, and I think the packing represented my excitement for all the experiences I was going to have. If I just packed the right things, If I only had the right accoutrements, If only . . .  then the experience would be AMAZING!!

Well, here I am  . . . cough . . .  years later and not much has changed!! I'm heading to my retreat with the Utah Valley Quilt Guild in just a few days, and I feel that same sense of excitement! And yes, that same packing frenzy! My piles are continuing to grow. You'd think that I'm going on a month-long quilting cruise, rather than a 3 and a half day retreat! But to have a whole three and half days of sewing seems so wonderfully intense that I've set a rather rigorous agenda for myself, and one that just keeps growing by the minute (especially every time I read a new blog post and discover a new wonderful project I could add to my Christmas "to do" list!). And how horrible would it be to be stuck in Park City (gasp) only to discover that I'm missing some critical piece of fabric?! Egad! So of course I'm  planning on bringing what feels like half my stash.

So, this is my current plan of action as it stands now (see my prior post for some more detail on a few of these projects):

1) Pieced scrap border quilt (thank you red pepper quilts!): I've pieced all the blocks, so I "just" have to sew the blocks together, baste it, quilt it, and bind it.

2) Polka dot baby quilt: I've pieced the blocks, so again "just" have to sew, baste, quilt, and bind.

3) Denyse Schmidt quilts: I have a bunchload of DS blocks pieced, from which I have a few baby quilts' worth of sewing to do! (not a top priority)

3) Ruby & Camille Scrap Quilt: I have all the scraps cut for this, but need to paper piece the blocks.

4) Christmas tree skirt: I have the sketches for this and the fabric picked out, but that's about it!

5) Modern Christmas table runner swap: I have my sketch and my fabric picked out.

6) Ana White work apron: I have the fabric and the pattern.

7) Tote bag (Christmas present): Fabric and pattern: I've made a ton of these, so this is a quick sew

8) An unmentionable project (Christmas present for one of my readers!)

9) Dog bone quilt: Fabric and pattern (Christmas present)

Getting the picture?? I may be biting off quite a bit more than I can chew. This may not be just a shortcookie, but quite a large cookie!! Just take a look at my "to go" pile (so far)!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Fabric Frenzy!

Weeeee! Fabric!! I think one of my favorite parts of sewing and quilting is playing with er, selecting fabrics for my projects. I love the complex interactions between value, texture, pattern, color, and the  inexplicable role that whimsy plays. 

Take the American Jane Punctuation fabric in black, green, and red in the foreground of the picture, for example. I'm not sure what it is about that fabric, but I find it just captivating! It has a life to it, a bounciness and life that adds so much to a quilt or Christmas stocking or zippy pouch!
This the color palette I'm playing with for the Modern Christmas Tablerunner Swap. As you may have seen already, this is the possible draft of a tablerunner for my secret partner:

The colors are just to brighten up the design. Can you picture this design in the colors above? Not in ALL of the fabrics, but in a subset of the greens, reds and aquas.

What do you think? Which ones do you like? Which ones would you dump? I don't have it in my stash yet, but I was thinking of adding some Winterkist too . . .

Friday, November 2, 2012

Tools of the Trade

Isn't this the cutest pin ever?? April brought me back a little bit of goodness from Market. Thank you April, you're the best!

I'm totally jealous of everyone who has been at Market; it sounds like an exhausting, but also an exhilarating experience! And all that fabric! What an amazing candy store of delicious textiles! Someday, some way, I'm going to find a way to get there!

Ella, April, Sue, and I met for a sewing day yesterday and I got so much done, yay! I worked on my pieced scrap border quilt, piecing my white blocks and the smaller of the scrappy strips:

I also worked on my starflower block pillow:

Finally, I came up with a sketch of a possible design for my tablerunner for the Modern Christmas Tablerunner Swap I'm participating in. The colors aren't really true, more just to jazz things up . . .

Stay tuned tomorrow to see what I'm playing with in terms of possible fabrics . . .  I'd love your opinions!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween WIPs & Storm Thoughts

Happy Halloween everybody!

Before I get on to the "business" of quilty stuff, let me comment a minute on the goings on along the East Coast. You may not know, but I'm a 13th generation Jersey Girl (yup, back to the 17th century!), and my thoughts are very much with my "people" right now. The devastation we're seeing on television is incomprehensible. My uncle and aunt, and many friends are awaiting word on the status of their homes, while other friends have already heard that they've lost their homes. My mother lost her electricity Monday night, and will likely not get it back for at least another week to ten days. Thankfully, the loss of life is remarkably low, but even so, more than 40 people have lost their lives across the East Coast, a number that is sadly sure to rise.

I feel helpless out here in Utah, and strangely guilty as I drive blithely around in beautiful 65 degree weather. The ones most effected by this disaster can't watch the news coverage, while the rest of us can tune in! When I spoke to my mother on the phone this morning, she was hungry for news about what was going on.  We just sent off a care package via FedEx, which will hopefully arrive tomorrow. She has been missing her morning coffee, so we sent her a french press coffee pot that doesn't require electricity, along with some crossword puzzles, some snacks, a wind-up flashlight, a lantern, and a supply of batteries (something hard to come by back east!). I feel a bit better to  be able to ease her discomfort somewhat.

I also feel good that I was able to finish my mom's Mama Lilly quilt so I know that she is keeping warm (since the heat is off) snuggling beneath the quilt!

Now, onto Wednesday's WIPs!

First, my starts:
1) I've signed up for the Modern Christmas Tablerunner Swap that Kirsten over at Gemini Stitches is running, and I've gotten started on stalking my secret partner and designing a table runner . . .  good times! I'm thinking trees . . . .
2) Dog bone quilt: I've just started a fabulous gift quilt with paper pieced dog bones. By "started" I mean I've decided to do it, selected the fabric, and am starting to cut out the paper pieces I need for the bones. Early stages people!
3) Tree skirt: I've designed the layout for a combination paper pieced/appliquéd Christmas tree skirt. This is also a retreat project. See my prior post for my ambitious plans!

Next, my continuing WIPs:
1) Red cardigan: I finished the back and have started on the front side panels
2) Pieced scrap border quilt: I have all the pieces cut out and ready to sew together. I'm going to my 3-day retreat next Wednesday, so I'm holding off on sewing those together until then . . .  I think!
3) Denyse Schmidt block quilt: I have the blocks sewn together, and now just have to figure out the layout . . .

And finally, my finishes:
1) Starflower zippy pouch
2) a little traveling sewing kit (photo to follow!)

I'm linking up with Lee over at Freshly Pieced for her Wednesday WIPs. Go check out the fabulous projects that everyone has linked up over there!!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Storms a brewin'

So while the entire eastern seaboard of the United States is battening down the proverbial hatches and gearing up for the storm of the century, I'm looking out at a beautiful fall day with not a cloud in the sky. Kind of surreal! Most of my friends and family are back East, so my thoughts and prayers are most definitely with them hoping that roofs and cellars remain dry and power outages are not too prolonged! Discovering that my mother is without a large flashlight was not a happy moment yesterday! Fortunately, she lives in a close community, so I'm trusting that she can rely on the kindness of her neighbors should she need some help!

I have been working steadily at several projects, some of which will remain secret for a while longer, but one of which I can give a peek. I've so fallen in love with the starflower block that I did the other day that I decided to try it again, this time in a zippy pouch. This was a rather bold move as I kind of hate zippers. Or they hate me, I'm not sure which! I am rather proud to announce, however, that this time I prevailed (insert trumpet fanfare here!). I used Noodlehead's fabulous tutorial for her scrappy makeup bag, although I added tabs to the zippers, which she doesn't include.

This has boxed corners, which I do love. I will admit that there was a minor sewing room injury in the making of this zippy pouch . . .  I was snipping the corners off and apparently was over-zealous and snipped the webby flesh between my thumb and first finger. Ouch! I guess this is a good time for a testimonial for sewing room safety! Ironically, after slightly nicking my fingertip last week with my rotary cutter, I purchased a safety glove which I was NOT wearing when using my apparently quite sharp scissors! The glove is amazing: it has a steel core and is cut resistant. It's made by Intruder (sounds tough, doesn't it?!) and I now wear it whenever I'm using my rotary cutter . . . I may now need to rethink things and start wearing it when I use my scissors too!

So, everyone stay safe out there -- whether from sharp implements or dangerous storms!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Blogger's Quilt Festival!

Today I'm linking up with Amy's Creative Side as part of her Blogger's Quilt Festival. I've decided to share my Mama Lilly quilt, which I made for my mother for her birthday this year. I made it from her vintage Lilly Pulitzer golf skirts, along with a a Lilly Pulitzer dress I found at a thrift shop for only $10! My mom has been a marvelous golfer, and I wanted to honor her achievements with this quilt. I'm so thrilled that this quilt came out so well, particularly since I've only been sewing for a year!

 This is the quilt in all her glory:

 You can't really see the detail in that picture, but in the center is a tiger, taken from one of my mother's Lilly Pulitzer tiger skirts. Here's a better shot: 

For those who may not be familiar with Lilly Pulitzer fabric, its fabulously vibrant resort wear, best known on the East Coast, particularly in New England and Florida. As the story goes, Lilly Pulitzer got her start on a fruit juice stand in Florida, and she began making vibrant clothing to cover up the fruit juice stains on her clothes!

And here's a shot of a close-up of the quilt, along with a peek of the backing, which is also Lilly Pulitzer fabric. It has peacocks on it. I was terrified of peacocks when I was little, so I thought it was the perfect choice for my mother's quilt!

This is the first "largish" quilt I've done, coming in at 72x65 inches. Machine quilted and pieced. Quilted by me! Best category: throw quilt.

If you haven't done so already, definitely stop by Amy's blog and check out the other quilts on her festival. There are amazingly talented folks out there!!

Seeing Stars

I have a friend who is one of those extra special people who remembers every birthday, anniversary, and other holiday with a card or text. I thought it was time I turned the table and let her know how grateful I am for her thoughtfulness. I've also been meaning to try my hand at this starflower block I found over at Ellison Lane Quilts for some time, so it seems the perfect time to make this for my friend! If you haven't yet, go over and check out her blog. She is fabulously talented and has some great tutorials!

This was also the perfect use of my ever-growing scrap heap! I've been inspired by the recent spate of blogs on using scraps and so I've climbed into my scrap baskets and pulled out some some goodies to work with.

I finished the top last night and, amazingly enough, the blocks actually line up! I know this is what is was supposed to do, but that is often so far from what happens with my piecing! Of course, I did originally swap two of the segments when I was sewing it together, so I had to unpick lots of stitches and try again . . . .  Anyway, I think I love this block!

I've been reading on a number of blogs about color value (check out Sew Katie Did or Stitched in Color, for example), and after doing this star block, I get what they're saying. Do you see how the darker blue fabric has a darker value than all the rest of the fabrics. It's not just that it's a darker color, but that it is denser and isn't in balance with the other ones. If I were to do this again, I'd either find a blue with a value more consistent with the other ones, or I'd pull on some darker values in some of the other colors (like the red, orange, and green) as well to balance it across the star.

Now I'm just trying to decide how to quilt this. Should I hand quilt an outline of the star? Or, should I machine quilt parallel lines outlining the start? Or, other suggestions?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Swap Happy!

I've been on the road so much the past several months that I've missed out on a few great swaps. With the Christmas holiday fast approaching (8 weeks people!), I've been hankering for a swap opp, and now I've found just the one!

As you may remember (because I just know that you've been committing all my blog posts to memory!), I participated in the Modern Christmas Tablerunner Swap last fall, run by Swap Mama Susan of Canadian Abroad. It was my very first swap and my very first tablerunner, and it was simply a fabulous experience. This is what I made:

I had never done paper piecing before and thought I'd just pick it up (not realizing how difficult it is). But I fell head over heels in love with paper piecing during the process.

And just look at the totally amazing tablerunner that Emily at Strawberry Patch Ramblings made for me! Go check out Emily's blog; she does beautiful work!

I'm so so lucky! Isn't this completely gorgeous?!

I was so inspired by this experience that when I heard that Kirsten at Gemini Stitches is going to be Swap Mama on another round of a Modern Christmas Tablerunner Swap, I just knew that I had to jump in! Susan did such a great job leading this swap last year, but she has her hands full right now, so Kirsten is stepping in to keep the swap going. Yay!

I'm particularly excited because when I did this swap last year I was really just starting out as a sewist. While I still have so much to learn and improve on (FMQing, anyone?!), I'm excited by how much my skills have developed and I'm really psyched to try out some new techniques and play with some new ideas. This swap last year also really got me in the mood for the Christmas holiday--nothing like stalking your swap-ee and making something for someone else to get the holiday spirit going!

For anyone interested in joining this swap, there is going to be a fast turnaround, so sign up now! Sign-ups close on October 29th, partners assigned by October 31st, and the finished tablerunner should be in the mail by the end of November. You can sign up here on Flickr. It's going to be fun!!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Wednesday Works in Progress

I'm linking up with Lee at Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday! It's been a busy week, and I have a few things to share . . .

First, my finish for the week--my Happy Ironing ironing pad:

And be sure to check out my free pattern!

Next, in anticipation for my upcoming retreat, I've gotten started cutting and piecing my fabric scraps for the pieced scrap border quilt I found on Red Peppers' Blog.

The tutorial calls for a 45 x 45 quilt, but I'm planning on making this a queen size, so I've doubled the number of scrap blocks. The bright side of a bad week of insomnia is that I've cut out almost 450 scraps from fat quarters and sewn 120 blocks. Oy! I'm hoping to get my contrasting white blocks cut out before the retreat so that when I get there I can just put it together!

In addition to this project, I've started a cardigan. I have a favorite, soft cardigan that I found in San Diego a few years ago, and I've decided to try my hand at making another one in this luscious red color:

Here's the original I'm working from:

The back is almost done, and then I'm on to the front panels . . .

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Sewing Room Tour

I've been settled into my new house for a few months now, and I just realized that I haven't shared any pictures of my fabulous new sewing room! It's still a bit of a work in progress, but I thought it was time that I had a tour!

My new sewing room is about 4 times as big as my last one--yes, the last one was quite "cozy!" In my new room I actually have room to lay out a queen-sized quilt on the floor (at least when the pups aren't trying to lounge around right in the middle of the room!). 

This room is a combined sewing studio/office space, so I have set up my desk and computer in one corner:

The desk top is from an old (very heavy) finished board I found in the throwaway pile at work. I attached some Ikea legs and it was good to go! On the desk I keep my patterns in binders and cardboard magazine holders. The wooden case on top of the desk is a divided office mail box (on its side) that I found at our university surplus store. Only $10!

The big monitor is perfect for catching up on my TV shows on Hulu. . . . it's positioned perfectly so I can watch it from my sewing machine but also look out the window at life passing by:

The sewing table is a great find from a local rummage sale . . . Karen transformed it from the laminate top with some fabulous red paint. On the ledge behind the sewing machine are my first machine (a 1970 Singer) and a great vintage Underwood typewriter.

I posted a while ago about these great old bookcases I found at a yard sale over the summer. I knew right away that they'd be just perfect for my fabric and such! These cabinets are about 100 years old, and came from a local vintage furniture store where they were built-ins. They're five feet tall and five feet wide. 

Aren't these fabulous?! I was a little shocked, however, at how quickly I filled them up! I have yardage stored in the right cabinet, wrapped around acid-free, fabric friendly boards I got online (they're originally intended as supportive inserts in comic books for collectors, go figure!). In the left cabinet I have my fat quarters, all stacked by color (of course!).

And here are the goodies that I have stored inside:

I've fallen in love with Mason jars, and I use them for storing spools of ribbon, zippers, selvedges, and fabric scraps. I found the fabulous vintage blue ones (on the left) with a zinc top I found in an antique store near Yellowstone. I still can't bring myself to put anything in the vintage blue ones yet! Sigh. 

I found the rest at a local thrift stores (only $1 each people!) or (the two on the right) at my local Walmart (under $10). I have found that I'm so much more likely to use my scraps and selvedges in my regular sewing when they are accessible like this. Plus, they look pretty!

I also took all the pretty shells I've collected over the years, and I put them in a jar too--a great way to display them without adding too much clutter!


In my last sewing room I had a small (12x17 inch) cutting mat that shared space on my desk. As a result, when I'd sit down to do work on my computer I was always pushing aside scraps of fabric. Such a pain! One of the things I'm excited about in my new sewing room is my cutting table and extra large cutting mat! 

The cutting mat, which fits the table perfectly, is 45x36 inches. So awesomely huge! I have a small ironing surface I made from a piece of wood, batting, and old fabric, which I keep handy to press my work as I cut. 

As full disclosure, before I took these pictures I removed all the clutter that was stashed under the table!! Karen is going to build me storage shelves which will fit beneath the table and hold all my extra things: batting, my scrap basket, knitting, etc. I can't wait! 

And last, but not least, I have my favorite chair and ottoman, which is perfect for knitting, finishing quilt bindings, reading, playing guitar, and napping! 

Thanks for taking a tour of my space! 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Happy Ironing Pattern

Happy Monday!

Today I'm sharing the paper piecing pattern I created for the iron on my Happy Ironing ironing pad. It's the very first pattern I've created and shared on my blog, and hopefully it makes sense to everyone! You can find the pattern here, on my Patterns & Tutorial page.

I use tracing paper when I do paper piecing, as I find it rips off more easily than printer paper or freezer paper. Tissue paper (really cheap at the $ store!) also works well, especially for larger images. If you're looking for a great tutorial on paper piecing, check out Very Kerry Berry's blog.

I'd love to hear your feedback about this pattern and would also love to see what you do with this!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Ironing out the wrinkles . . .

Hi again! I had the most amazing idea: since I have a blog, I might actually blog regularly! Really! Total epiphany, right? As I'm sure y'all can appreciate, the challenge for me of blogging is not so much finding the time to blog, but finding something to blog about. Because really, my life is just not that exciting!!

So, in keeping with the "gearing up for the retreat" theme, I finally tackled a project that I've had in mind for months: a traveling ironing pad! April has the most amazing one that I totally coveted, and it inspired me to try my hand at it. I've been loving the paper piecing that I've done for my sewing machine cover and sewing machine "placemat," so I came up with a design for a paper pieced iron.

I was surprised at how simple this design turned out to be--really simple angles! It took me about an hour, start to finish! I'll post a tutorial for the iron tomorrow.

And here's the back:

I know, it's pretty exciting, eh? But oh so functional! I'm so happy to have knocked this off my "to do" list in time for the retreat next month.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Retreat Planning

So to continue on the retreat wagon . . . here's what I'm thinking about working on during the retreat:

1) Pieced Scrap Border Quilt

I found this great tutorial on Red Pepper Quilts' blog. It calls for 20 different fabrics, but only in small, 1.5 x 5.5 inch strips, so you can totally use fat quarters (or less) for this project. I'm using rainbow-ish colors (yes, I'm still on the rainbow kick!): aqua blue, dark blue, green, red, and orange, and I'm using 4 fabrics for each color.

The tutorial is for a 45.5 x 45.5 inch quilt. Perfect for a snuggly baby gift! I'm thinking, however, I might try to make this a full-sized quilt. I had insomnia last night and spent several hours cutting out 228 strips--enough for the original size. I'm not relishing the thought of going back to the cutting board, but I really do want this a bit larger!

2) Christmas Tree Skirt

I also want to work on a Christmas tree skirt. Last year I made a Christmas pillow for my mother, using a paper-pieced tree and gifts and an appliquéd rendition of my puppy Sophie. I want to build on this idea and turn it into a tree skirt. This picture is what first inspired my project:

Isn't this card so sweet?! So, here's my plan for the skirt: I'm going to have the tree and gifts in one corner, with one of our pups on top of the packages and the other sitting at the base of the gifts looking up. In the opposing corner of the skirt I'm going to put our two pups and a friend cruising down a snowy hill on an old-fashioned sled. I got the idea from Stephen Huneck's fabulous dog print.

Aren't these three so cute! Sophie (our black lab mix) and Zoey (our brown border collie-lab mix) have a little friend, Teddy, who is a yellow lab mix, so this is a great image of the trio! I even found some great wood-grained brown fabric that will be perfect for the sled! I'm kinda dreading the appliqué for Zoey, however . . . she has a wonderful border collie coat (unlike Sophie who has the more typical lab coat shown in the woodcut image above), and as a result she has all this wispy, feathery fur that flows off her. It's beautiful, but the shagginess is much harder to capture neatly in appliqué!

I'm still sorting out what to do with the two remaining corners. Paper pieced trees? Houses? Suggestions are welcome!

3) Ruby & Camille Scrap Quilt

Last year I won some great Ruby & Camille fat quarters and pre-cut strips in Film in the Fridge's giveaway. She has a great tutorial for her Ruby Strings quilt. It's a whole lot of paper-piecing of the strips, but I love the finished look! This one will be a gift for someone very special to me who is currently going through a tough, tough time.

This project is made more appealing because most of the strips are already cut. Phew!

4) Ana White Work Apron

At her book tour appearance the other day, Ana White (see prior blog post) was giving away a few of her great work aprons. I didn't happen to win one, so I want to make one for Karen. In addition to all the fabulous furniture plans she provides on her blog, Ana White has also shared a tutorial for the apron. Hopefully this will be a quick project!

I know, I know! Too much to accomplish, but there is so much I want to do! Project mania!