Sep 282016

Here’s the quilt I made because I wanted to play with my Bloc Loc HST ruler. I love this ruler! (Also, I love chain piecing and HSTs.)

beachy HST quilt

The whole top is made from fabric from a kit for Emily Cier’s Chi quilt. I bought it mainly because I wanted the book of patterns, and then I also thought it was cute that some of the shapes looked like shaved ice cones. But when I opened the kit and read the instructions that said to interface the five charm packs of white squares, I knew that wasn’t happening!

beachy HST quilt

Inspired by Susan Kephart’s random vector quilt, I did a low-tech version by first laying out all of my HST units so that blocks with the same colors weren’t too close together. Then I numbered the four orientations that HST units can take (1-4) and used on my phone to choose the unit layouts as I sewed rows together.

beachy HSTs close

I’m all out of order, but trimming the HST units was so fun (I know, I’m a dork!) with the bloc loc ruler. Being able to quickly set the diagonal ridgey bit against the HST seam makes trimming go by much faster!

beachy HST quilt

The quilt ended up pretty big — it used 12 charm packs, so about 79″ x 90″. I gave it to my father-in-law, and I was so happy when he said he liked it because it reminded him of the quilts his grandma used to make! 🙂

Sep 212016

Earlier this year, our awesome guild member Val taught a hexagon star stack and whack quilt workshop. Just for us, she taught it all in one day even though she normally teaches it over four sessions!

hexagon star quilt

She showed us how to carefully layer, pin, and cut our fabric so that we could make fun kaleidoscopey patterns with yardage from just one print. I got to use all Cotton & Steel for this quilt (hooray, sales!) and this Alexia Abegg papercut print for the hexagon centers.

Alexia Abegg paper cuts print

For the quilting, I tried to do custom fmq by outlining the print in the hexagons. It was fun, but I was glad that this quilt was only lap sized.

hexagon star fmq

On the borders, I tried making ghosty shapes by fmqing hexagons. I feel like normally, ghost shapes are supposed to be surrounded by dense quilting to really highlight the shapes, but I didn’t do that because I couldn’t imagine what it should look like on this quilt. Also, I was almost done and getting lazy. 😀

stacknwhack ghosty border

Back to the piecing — I made a problem that Val hadn’t ever seen before from her other students! My first few hexagons came out really warped and couldn’t lay flat. We tried a bunch of things, and it wasn’t til a fellow student let me try sewing on her machine that we realized that my problem was that I was sewing with a too-scant 1/4″ inch seam allowance. I was sewing on my Juki TL-2000qi, and I normally use the edge of the regular presser foot to sew a very scant 1/4″, which usually works out fine since I’m at least consistent with myself. But since the hexagons are basically circles, it makes a big difference when you don’t use the intended exact 1/4″ seam allowance.

After that, I used the 1/4″ marking on the throat plate thingy, and my hexagons came out fine. Yay!

circles fmq

The pattern that Val was having us work off of included a border made from the hexagon centers fabric, which is fun because then people can see the print that the kaleidoscopes are made from. I replaced it with a smaller border of the background fabric, though, because I liked having the stars floating.

olive center!

It’s been a few months since I finished and mailed this quilt off (I sent this to my friend who I told I’d make a Belcarra blouse for TWO YEARS AGO and still haven’t finished yet O_o ), and I’ve already forgotten how to make it. Good thing I hardly ever want to make up quilt patterns more than once!


Jul 152016

Earlier this week, I had a post at imagine gnats about a Megan Nielsen Kelly skirt. Look how poofy it can get when it’s windy! :D:D

kelly skirt

I really had to bonk myself on the head — the side of the waistband that I started topstitching out came out much nicer than the side I ended on. I planned to put in my buttonholes so that the nicer side of the waistband ended up on the top… but then I took a break from sewing and I forgot! I only remembered after I’d sewn all the buttonholes on the side that the instruction say to, and then I was too lazy to unpick them. doh!

kelly skirt waistband

In other interwebby things, last week, Sara at Sew Sweetness released her Tortoise Bag, which I got to test.

tortoise bag

It’s a cute little bag! The next time, I’d try to use a two-way zipper instead of two one-way zippers, though… maybe I could trim down the the tape or find one with very flexible tape.

tortoise bag

Jul 052016

Subtitle: Does this make you dizzy? (skirt edition)
Subsubtitle: This is what happens when you’re a bullheaded sewer

When Butterick 6285 first came out, it didn’t grab my eye enough to click through to see the pattern details. But then I saw Allie J’s adorable version, and that did make me want to get it! I even went crazy and bought 2.5 yards of silk dupioni from Marcy Tilton (so not bargain fabric) to make a big, twirly skirt, without even having made a test version, first.

When I actually got around to sewing B6285, I came to my senses and decided to start with a wearable muslin. This was mainly because I read a bunch of PatternReview sewers who mentioned nonsensical seam allowances (1″ on the sides and 1.5″ for the center back) and the waistband diagram that didn’t match the actual waistband, and that made me worry that this was not a pattern to blindly trust in.

b6285 - wearing it off-center's all the rage

In retrospect, I made a few mistakes off the bat. My stash choices were limited and I ended up using some crepe de chine, which is drapier than the pattern seems to indicate, since it mentions broadcloth, satin, and taffeta. Also, even though I know Butterick/McCall’s/Vogue includes a lot of ease, for some reason I thought: maybe Gertie’s is different! … and I sewed a size 12 for a 28.5″ waist. This was toooo big. I don’t like my waistbands to just rest over my waist; I like them to cinch my waist in since I’m too lazy to get my muscles to do that!

b6285 too big, my fault, still don't like it

Why didn’t I fit as I sewed? The crepe de chine was very shiftystretchy, and I worried that handling it too much would make it grow. Then why didn’t I stay-stitch the curves and then try it on as I sewed? I’m still struggling with figuring out what settings on my machine will not make a line of stitching pucker on a single layer of fine/shifty/annoying fabric, so I’d rather just sew everything to the end and hope for the best, BLEAH.

So, ehhhhhhhhhhh. I don’t like where the pleats ended up, although perhaps they’d be placed better if I sized down. I don’t like my test version enough to try again, though, and to add insult to injury, you can’t even really see what I mean since I apparently took most of my pictures with my skirt rotated off center. hah! Oh wait, I found a phone pic where it was on straight.

b6285 centered, but I don't like where the pleats are

I reeeeeally don’t like where the pleats ended up on the back. I feel like they give me square butt pointy poofsplosions. Oh, but I’m happy with my invisible zipper! I used one of those plastic fits-all-machines invisible feet for the first time, and even though the zipper kept slipping out of the foot’s groove, it still went really well. Now I’m going to buy an actual invisible zipper foot.

b6285 yup, that's the back

Here’s the pattern diagram for the waistband that definitely shows an overlap:

b6285 waistband diagram

And here’s the actual waistband, close up. Boo! Also, I followed the instructions for the zipper-only-up-to-the-waistband-and-hooks-above to see how I’d like it. It certainly makes the zipper insertion easier! But the way it is, it’s probably possible for your back or shirt to show through. It sure would have been better with an overlapped waistband! :P:P:P

b6285 that's not an overlapped waistband!

I’ll still wear this skirt to work, even though I have a hard time finding my pockets since it keeps rotating around my waist due to it being a little big. I always have a cardigan on anyway, and for one thing, all my cardigans have great pockets, and for the other thing, it’s not like anyone can see what my waist looks like when I have giant grampa cardigans on all the time. ;D

Jun 302016

Ever since I joined my quilt guild, I’ve been getting to go to sewing events (yay!!!), and I’ve been wanting to make one giant bag to carry all my supplies in. A long while ago, I bought Elizabeth Hartman‘s Sewing Circle Tote pattern (it looks like it’s no longer available 🙁 ), and last month I finally sewed it up!

sewing circle tote

I used some of the blocks I received from the awesome Piece Bee I belonged to a few years ago — everyone sewed up their own original foundation paper-pieced blocks according to the month’s theme. I chose the blocks mainly based on which ones fit the size of the finished pocket. And I just realized that I forgot to take pictures of two of them, oops.

sewing circle tote

Even though this is actually a pretty basic tote (just with a bajillion pockets), it took me kind of a long time to make. The instructions are very clear, but my brain takes a long time to parse her style of writing. I think it’s because I prefer pattern writers who use lots of bullet points. For instance, one set of cutting instructions says:

Cut 2 strips 14" x width of fabric. From these, cut 2 pieces 14" x 20½" for the front and back, 2 pieces 14" x 10" for the sides, and 1 piece 10" x 20½" for the bag bottom.

I understand that more easily written this way:

  • (2) 14″ x wof
    • front and back: (2) 14″ x 20½”
    • sides: (2) 14″ x 10″
    • bottom: (1) 10″ x 20½”

Aaaaaanyway, this bag is HUGE and I love it! The bottom is especially nice and sturdy — I didn’t have Peltex, so I substituted a few layers of duck canvas and Pellon 65 stabilizer. I think that worked out fine, but then again, I’ve never actually used Peltex, so I don’t know how my bag’s bottom compares with the recommended three layers of peltex. I really liked the way the lining is tacked down at the seam allowance so that the lining bottom never pulls away from the bag. It’s so smart!

There are four external pockets, five elasticized internal pockets, and three internal zipper pockets. It’s always nice having the option of pockets, but the first time I took it to a class, I barely used any of them.

I added a long keyfob to the inside front of the bag. It comes in handy when it’s raining and I only think to fish out my keys when I get to my car, heh.

sewing circle tote, inside

The two sets of handles are a nifty idea — there are longer shoulder straps and also shorter handles that seem like they’d be useful for things like moving the bag around your sewing space. However, since I’m short and consequently make my shoulder straps super short, both sets of straps ended up being almost the same length. It’s a little confusing on my bag, and sometimes I found myself carrying my bag by one shoulder strap and one “short” handle.

sewing circle tote

In summary, here’s what I learned: buy patterns as soon as you like them because otherwise they might get discontinued on you! ;D

Jun 202016

Sunshine’s teachers are awesome too, so I wanted to make (smaller) presents for them (and I supplemented them with gift cards since they’d probably like that best, heh). I have a bunch of largish canvas scraps left over from various weekenders and poolside totes, so I thought I’d make pouches out of those, and to make them a little more fun, I made them with two zippers. First, I made a quick prototype without any fiddly zipper tab bits. It was nice and fast to sew, but the top corners are obviously not great.

double zip pouch, prototype

Then I made a better pair that had all the zipper end tabs. Those top corners came out great! I also entertained myself by making different zipper pull setups for each pouch.

double zip pouch, tigers

After that, I got tired of my “mass” production, and I took a break by making the preschool administrator a grocery bag.

michelle patterns easy grocery bag, horsies

With my energy refreshed, I was able to finish the last two pouches. Isn’t that star split ring fun? I had completely forgotten that I had them, but found them when I was scrounging around after I realized that I’d run out of regular split rings. (The squid zipper pulls came in my orders from zipit.)

double zip pouch, arches

Here’s another picture of the zipper tabs… I was so pleased at how they turned out! For these, I just cut the zipper so they wouldn’t have to be sewn into the corners (they’re cut off right after the zipper tab topstitching), and I really trimmed the pouch corners close to the seam.

double zip pouch, zipper tabs

I’m sloooowly improving my wrapping game — I at least put these in bags (although they were an assortment of paper bags from stores like Bath & Body Works) and put tags on them. I didn’t put any tissue paper in, though. My excuse was that I put the recipients’ names on paper tags that I pinned to the pouches, and I had to be able to see in to know who to have Sunshine give them to! ;D

Jun 162016

I really appreciated Cosmo’s first grade teacher this year — she emailed the parents all the time, which meant that I actually knew what was going on. Cosmo hardly ever remembered to tell us stuff… which is normal, right? 😀

Since I was in a quilty mood, I made an Arrowhead quilt for her end of year present. The pattern is great! The design is obviously fantastic, and the instructions were really nice — it includes efficient cutting layouts for using fat quarters for all three sizes of the quilt. (I used yardage, though, so I didn’t have to pay attention to those.)
Initial K Studio - Arrowhead quilt

Since it’s mostly HSTs, I got to use my Bloc Loc ruler again (I haven’t gotten pictures of the first quilt I used it on, yet). I LOVE this ruler! Since I’m a cheapie, I only have one — the 6.5″, which was the biggest size that I saw on sale at the time. The next time I have to make flying geese, I’m going to get one of those rulers, too! I can’t do the same thing as with the HST ruler and just use the biggest flying geese ruler for all size blocks though, can I?

I actually spent quite a bit of time planning how I was going to straight-line quilt this. I drew a whole bunch of options on my computer and kept bugging Mike to help me decide. But then after I quilted all of one set of diagonal lines on the quilt, I got impatient to be done and stopped. hah!

When I was squaring it up, I found out that all that diagonal quilting had pulled the quilt very not square. (The flimsy had right angle corners, I promise.) Oops! That didn’t make me go back and try to fix it by quilting in the other direction, though — I just took my lesson and went on with binding.

Initial K Studios - Arrowhead quilt

After the school year had ended, Cosmo’s teacher mailed us a really nice thank you note… which inspired us to actually remember to make the kids write thank you notes to their great-grandma for a present box she had recently sent. See, such a great teacher — teaching the parents, even!

May 252016

I’m catching up on old projects now — this past Christmas, I finished up some Wild Olive fruity placemats for my friend. They’re such a creative way of using English paper piecing!

Wild Olive fruity placemats

I like to use freezer paper for my EPP: I cut the shapes out of freezer paper, punch holes in the center, and then iron them to the fabric. That way, it’s easy to prep them for fussy cutting, and I don’t have to do anything to hold the fabric and paper together for basting. Also, I avoid sewing through the paper while basting so that I can pull the papers out using the punched hole after everything is sewn together. They’re reusable!

blueberries placemat

When I first learned to do EPP, I whipstitched the pieces together, but nowadays I use a ladder stitch.

pineapple placemat

I love the little faces that Wild Olive puts on everything!

watermelon placemat

I always feel a little guilty when I give people placemats — they’re super fun to make, but I wouldn’t want to receive them for gifts. My kids are still at the messy stage, so that would just be stressful. Plus, we also use our dining table for storage and Lego-building and quilt basting (like normal people, yeah?), so getting placemats out of the way all the time would just be irritating. I inflicted placemats on my sister-in-law when I first started sewing, and she kept them out on her dining table for years before they finally disappeared. She stuck in there way longer than I could have! 😀

Wild Olive fruity placemats

May 172016

I’ve been wanting to do something for my cousin-in-law after she was such an awesome realtor for us, and I finally made her a thank-you quilt. It only took me two years, hah! I chose Meadow Mist Design’s free MQG Use Your Illusion pattern — it’s a great graphic design, and I figured that if it didn’t happen to be her personal taste, she could always use it for house staging. 😀

use your illusion quilt

The quilt design is obviously great, and I think the instructions are probably fine… I may have messed up cutting or lost pieces when I took breaks from sewing because I ended up having lots of extra strips in certain sizes, and I also had to cut more strips in other sizes when I ran out towards the end of assembling blocks.

I tried out a nifty swirl fmq pattern from Beginner’s Guide to Free-Motion Quilting, mainly because I was trying to justify having bought the book. My swirls were pretty uneven, though, and I kind of ruined the great straight lines of the quilt pattern. derp!

use your illusion - close up

Even though this didn’t turn out quite the way I wanted, hopefully it still made my cousin happy. I should probably practice those spirals some more, huh!

use your illusion quilt