Hip To Be Square…

I hope that everyone out there had a wonderful, relaxing and healthy Christmas.  We sure did in our house.

We draw names every year in our family.  Mr. Swellsewing has 3 brothers and a sister, and then they have their significant others, so buying for each could be quite costly and complicated.  As it is, none of us really need or want for anything, so thinking of gift ideas is always very daunting.

My hope, was that whoever’s name I got, I would be able to handcraft part of their gift.  Luckily, we draw names in November, and it gave me plenty of time to create something that would be a show stopper.

Well, I got my sister-in-laws name Heather (Mr. Swellsewing’s sister).  One of my favorite people, she does so much for everyone else.  She is responsible for assisting my wonderful mother-in-law with all the holiday shopping for many people.  My mother-in-law still has us (the adults) and our children (grandchildren) make these extensive Christmas lists that Heather spends many hours fulfilling.  Then, Heather spends more hours on top of that, wrapping and wrapping and wrapping.  Usually when all those gifts are set under the tree, the tree pales in comparison!

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I knew with Heather, a quilt would be a sure bet.  Making the decision to craft a quilt was easy, deciding on a particular pattern design and color palette was way overwhelming.  I scanned the many quilting magazines and books I had on hand to see if there was something that caught my eye.  Nothing I had on hand seemed quite right.  I then reached out to the internet. Ahhh, the internet it holds all the answers that my brain hasn’t any capacity for.  And surely enough, it held the answer to my quilt conundrum!  I came along a tutorial by Melissa Cory, she is the mastermind behind a blog called Happy Quilting.  I found this star surround quilt-a-long on her blog.

Star Surround - My Sample

Above is a picture from the Quilt-Along.

This pattern was interesting and very complicated.  Complicated for me anyway. I am a total  newbie when it comes to piecing and quilting.

I have less than 6 quilts under my belt, so experience would have been helpful when tackling this quilt.

I chose Pat Bravo’s Carnaby Street Collection for my fabric choices.  It is so bright, warm, colorful, mysterious and captivating.  I thought this to be the perfect choice for Heather’s star surround quilt, I ordered about 9 different colors and patterns from that collection.

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I was pretty thrilled when I was able to assemble the first 2 stars of the nine required.  They actually looked like stars.. so I was on to a good start.

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Then there were 4, and before I knew it- I had 9!

Next up, the star surround.  Not all the points lined up, but I didn’t let that stop me.

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I had to motor on.  There was a deadline to meet CHRISTMAS!

I have been told many times, that quilting is easier than garment sewing.  I am here to say that this just isn’t true.  People have said, ” quilting is so much more forgiving than garment sewing.”  Well, you don’t have to fit the quilt to a certain body type or size, BUT and this is a big one….. YOU NEED TO BE PRECISE WHEN CUTTING YOUR SQUARES!!!!!

Not only that, but ORGANIZATION is also very key.  These are two things that I am just not that good at.  I am a creative person, and I find that most of us creative types are super messy.

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I tend to average things out…. this is such a no, no in quilting.  Eyeballing is just not done.  I love eyeballing things.  🙂

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The quilt top pictured above.

This is the quilt top all sewn up- even with some of my piecing points not meeting in some places, I made it work.

I finished this quilt, on Christmas Eve Night.  Can you believe it.  I started this on Thanksgiving vacation, cutting the many yards of Kona Snow White- 108 squares of various sizes….. finished attaching the binding right before bed on Christmas Eve.

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I washed Heather’s Quilt with 5 color catchers, (just in case) and threw it in the dryer, where it dried by about 1% smaller, creating all those crinkles that I love so much.

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The quilting stitches consisted of what I would call scribbles or irregular circles.   I am unable at this point to craft the perfect circle– (perfection is so overrated) so scribbles will do just fine.  For the stars and surrounds I used a walking foot and did some straight line quilting.  Nothing fancy here- I just tried to sew a straight line, which can be incredibly hard, when you’re tired and in my case over 40 and blind!  Aging sucks, but it beats the alternative!  🙂

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This quilt is 91″ x 91″  and is square.  It is by far the largest quilt I have ever made.

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So yes, it is square.  What is it that Huey Lewis says?!

IT’S HIP TO BE SQUARE!

And

YES!  I would say it is.

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Because this quilt is so HIP and so SQUARE!

 One thing about giving a quilt to someone special, you know that one size really does fit all. You also know if you make the gift recipient cry that you totally…

Hit The Mark.

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Yep, I hit my mark!

I hope you were able to make some crafty memories for someone special in your life too!

xxxooo

Silence Is Golden!

Sometimes turning everything off in the house is so freeing.  With television, radio and phone silenced I found myself able to actually think! Hmm imagine that.  Wow! Right?!

I haven’t been blogging, but I have been busying myself with a plethora of holiday projects.

Here is what I have been up to:

1.   I finished a lap quilt for Aunt Helen

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She has been spending time in a wheelchair now and I thought this would keep her legs warm and let her know that we love her and are thinking of her.

2.  I am in the process of trying to decide between these two designs.

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 The first quilt design is by Canoeridgecreations.com that was featured in a quilty magazine, called chevron and on.  The second design is another version that I came up with using the same blocks.  I think I like the second one better, but that means I need to figure out what to do about the middle block.  I am NOT making anymore squares so.. I am probably going with the first version.  If I finish this, it will be given to my Mom-in-law.

3.  I made and brought this little chicken over to my sister-in-law Heather’s home  for a hostess gift on Thanksgiving.

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Pretty funny, huh?  You lift up her wing and she has a hole there with access to dinner rolls!  I downloaded this project from Pellonprojects.com.

It’s a free pattern, in fact there are many free patterns on the website.  The only problem with this chicken is that it was impossible to find a tiny basket for her.  I used a pail that I purchased from the container store.  It wasn’t the way it was supposed to be though!

4.  I baked apple pie for Thanksgiving!

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One went with us the Heather’s house, one went with my friend Patty to her Thanksgiving and this one stayed home with us.  My son Kenny and I devoured it!  Breakfast, lunch and dinner baby, that’s how we do it!

I am happy to report, that I think I am finally starting to get the hang of making my own pie dough.  This is something that I have strived for, for many years.

4.  A little shopping at Target for some essential Orla Kiely!decblogpost5

There was really nothing little about it.  I bought nearly one of each of Orla’s cosmetic bags from Target.  I just couldn’t resist.  “Collect them all!!”

5.  Mr. Swellsewing and I have been cleaning out closets!decblogpost6

This is just one example of one of the closets we cleaned out.  We are donating a ton of things that we just don’t need anymore.  We’re so tired of clutter.  We are seriously going to do this.  Really!

6.  Baby Quilt

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Whew, good thing this is for a baby!  I just don’t know how many more hexies I have in me to finish.  All this fabric is from Heather Ross’ Briar Rose collection.  It is as cute as can be, and totally perfect for a baby girl.  December 15th is my deadline.  I really gotta get my hex on!!!

And the last thing I have been working on:

7.  Is a secret project for someone.

I have been working on this “thing” for a very long time… hopefully it will be done before Christmas and I will have pictures to share with you!  Wish me luck!

Other than those few things, there are plenty of other little things that keep popping up.  Christmas shopping for my boys ( all three of them), wrapping and sending gifts to my parents, X-mas cards that need to be addressed… hmm what else…Oh, I need to deck the halls!  Holy moly! Wow, no more time for blogging.  I have to get going on all of this.

But first, a nice spot of hot Trader Joes, candy cane tea and a fond farewell to all of you until next time!

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Cheers!

It’s A SEWING Give-Away!!!!

I have been feeling very sentimental lately, to the point that it brings me to tears.  I am not sure why, it could be- GASP- menopause, or it could be the fact that my kids used to be this old…..drinks with kids

And now they are this old, and time is going by so quickly..

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AND there is nothing I or anyone else can do to just stop it!  Ugh!!!

Except, we CAN and WILL do a give-away!!!!!  Because, they always make me feel better!!!!

So let me ask you, what is the first item you remember sewing, constructing, sculpting, painting or making. Do you remember how it made you feel?  Was it proudly displayed on your refrigerator by your mom or dad?

 I have written about how my mom forced my sister and I to take 4-H for sewing.  I am very grateful to her now, but back then I was not so much.   Well, this is my first sewn garment, with me modeling it.

 I am pulling out this hideous photo of my first sewn garment.

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It’s a beauty isn’t it?  I was 10, I was chubby and I was not happy about being in a fashion show with those shoes (my mom forced me to wear), and the hideous smock that I sewed.  I remember it so vividly.  I was very awkward who isn’t at 10?  I didn’t feel pretty in it.  I don’t remember being proud of my accomplishment and it unfortunately didn’t make me happy.   😦

Anyhow, my smock was made out of a royal blue cotton calico print, it had pointed sleeves and a pointed bodice.  Beauty!  The headscarf, was just an added bonus, that my mom thought would complete the outfit!  And it did!

So if you would like to enter my give-away, I would like you to rewind back to your past and dig deep, try to remember your first stab at creativity. Here is what you are entering for:

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An Aneela Hoey quilt journal ( it has both plain and graph paper pages), an illustrated sewing machine tea towel and a sewing machine necklace!  All three items will be given to ONE lucky winner!

Click on each picture for more of a description.

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The Aneela Hoey Quilt Journal

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The Oh Sew Lovely Necklace

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This Tea Towel from Girls Can Tell

To enter, please leave a comment telling of your first memory of an item you crafted.  You know my first sewn memory, as hideous as it is, it is what got me started sewing.

If you would like to enter for a 2nd chance to win, become a follower of my blog.  (if you are already a follower, you will be automatically entered for a second chance, but only if you comment first)  Does this make sense?

All entries will be drawn by Random.Org. You may only comment once, for one entry and you may follow my blog for a second entry.   Winners will be announced 2 weeks from today on Thursday August 1st after 12 noon EST.  Deadline for entries is July 31st at 12 Midnight, EST (2013).  Please make sure that I have an e-mail to reach you directly so you can claim your prizes!

I can’t wait to read all your comments and relive your memories with you!  🙂

Good Luck!

The Bi-Coastal Quilt

So…. do you remember that secret surprise that I referred to in this post?  Well, this is it!  The Bi-Coastal Quilt.  Finally finished and sent to its new home.

It’s hard to believe that I sewed my first real quilt only about a year ago, after visiting Jennifer Paganelli’s studio sale.  I picked up a couple bags of her fabric scraps and sewed together this quilt- and learned a hell of a lot along the way.  The “Bi-Coastal” quilt (I am calling it this because I started it in California and finished it in Cape Cod) is now my 4th finished quilt.

This quilt was started in May, (inspired by my friend Susie and her rapidly approaching nuptials to a great guy), but finished in July. Since this was a second marriage for both of them they requested no gifts (who really listens to that, right?), I thought a quilt would be something they would always have and hopefully treasure.  photo-6

I opted for a string quilt, and to my surprise, all these fabrics came from my stash, even the Kona Snow that inhabits the negative space of the quilt!  I think using fabrics that come from a stash, is one of the most gratifying feelings!  If I were to really sit down and study this string quilt, I would be able to identify fabrics that I made headbands out of, fabrics used for dresses and handbags, even fabric from a pair of Munki-Munki pajamas that I disassembled (I had to have the goldfish in the baggie represented in her quilt somewhere!)

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It really was a labor of love.  In fact, I feel like a part of me is sewn into each quilt I make.  I spend a lot of time planning, gathering, cutting and sewing each part together.  So the photo with me in front of the pond is me loving on the quilt and saying goodbye to it.

As for some things I would love to improve on?  All the points on this quilt don’t match up, but I had to let that go, otherwise they wouldn’t being seeing this quilt until their 1 year anniversary.photo-13

And this was my first real try at Free Motion Quilting, my own rendition.  I think with more practice, I might like it?  Maybe my hands, back and neck won’t cramp as much with more practice also?photo-11

 This rendition could be called the confused circle pattern, they don’t know if they are coming or going!  Just like the maker!!!!  🙂

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Here’s the front after being washed.

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The back after being washed.  I love how the different stitching seems to make the color of the quilt change.

One last thing that I need improvement on is the binding of the quilt.  I didn’t do pointed corners on this quilt.  I wanted to, believe me, but it just wasn’t the way it worked out.

My next post is going to be my give-away and it is going to be a good one!  Does the name  Aneela Hoey mean anything to you?  Well if you don’t know her you should! Check this out.

Have a great week!

Sew Done!

I should really keep better track of how much time I really put into a quilt.  I think one of the best things about quilting is the fact that you can share them.  Even with the smallest of family members.

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Now that I have officially completed my third quilt, I wanted to do a little review.  I really think with each quilt I have improved and learned so much!

Here is my first quilt:

(notice my crinkled edges) I also didn’t use the highest quality batting.

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My second quilt:

(This quilt was given as a gift to my folks for Christmas)

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And now my completed third quilt:

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This is how it all started:

I was inspired by Tacha Bruecher’s Book, Hexa go-go.

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I sliced up many “strings” of oranges, reds, pinks and yellows. Amazingly, these fabrics were all found in my sewing room.

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I “string pieced” 8.5″ x 8″ squares: (80 of those)

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……sewed those together to create blocks. (20 of those)

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I crafted a bunch of “fussy cut” hexagons, mostly using Heather Ross prints.

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Those were then sewn into rosettes and sewn onto the white “negative” spaces on the quilt.

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The quilt top was finished.

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The quilt “sandwich” came together, and the binding was added.

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She came together and I finished her!

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(My 6’3″ husband is holding the quilt from behind to give you an idea of how big it is)

The back is pretty also.  I did some “free-motion quilting”, which is going to be an ongoing learning process.

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A couple more things before I say bye for today…. This made me happy beyond belief….. I spotted a photo on the Creativebug instagram feed of Heather Ross at Quiltcon donning the blouse I gave her at the Asilomar workshop!!!! You will also see, my friend, Ava Herceg hanging with Heather at one of her Quiltcon workshops.

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Yes, I saw this blouse in Anthropologie, and it said “Heather Ross” to me!  So I bought it and gave it to Heather, because she has given me sooooooo much!

Let me just say one more thing about Creativebug, if you haven’t joined yet do so!  It is a wonderful community of creative people, famous crafters that teach you their craft, through tutorials, you can watch over and over!  It’s really awesome!

My last thought for today is to remind you to enter my Give-Away!  There is still time!

Have a great day!

A Quickie

I wanted to post a ‘quickie’ to let you all know out there that I am still alive and working on projects.    I am still making progress (although slow) on my “dog tails quilt”.  Through it all I have sewn while watching Netflix or while watching episodes of some of my favorite series on Comcast that I may have missed, the night before.

I have even found myself watching shows such as “Pretty Little Liars” and “Switched at Birth”.  Both of these shows are not for the middle-aged, but for the teen-aged.  Funny as it may seem, I like them both.  The only criticism I have for “Switched at Birth” is that you have to actually be watching the show and not just listening… they do a lot of sign language.  🙂

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I have been watching “Nashville” also.  This is pretty weird for me because I don’t even like country music!  I do find myself kind of fond of it now, though.  Strange.

I sure do miss that “Pan Am” show they took off the air last year!  Well enough TV talk for now!  🙂

Let’s talk about this quilt…..

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This quilt has sure been a lot of work.  All 20 blocks are done and so far I have 8 sewn together.  Let me ask all of you out there your opinion regarding this quilt.  Should I have the fussy cut rosette centers facing all the same way?  Should all the bikes, dogs and   all pin wheels be in the same direction?

Would love to hear what you think about that!

Thanks!

What inspires you?

Well, we are back from Michigan.  I ate my way in and out of Michigan.  My mom cooks her way throughout our visit, creating a culinary link to my childhood memories.  I gained weight, but it was worth it.  Mmmmm, my mom’s homemade apple pie (I ate the whole thing only sharing a few slices) and Pigs in the Blanket with mashed potatoes… it was the best!

I have been feeling a creative rut lately and as I look back on some of the things I have sewn, I can see that I will get through my little dry spell.  Last Christmas I took a Craftsy tutorial taught by Amy Gibson.  The Quilted Ipad Case tutorial became a Christmas present for my lovely Sister-in-law, Heather.    A very fun and easy project, Amy takes you through the process of foundation piecing as well as constructing pockets, strap and the insertion of a zipper.  

This foundation piecing I found to be inspiring as well a real kick!  Piecing all these different fabric patterns together to create pockets really was inspirational!

This was the first time I have ever done foundation piecing!  After doing this project, I started another, similar project to take to Palm Springs.

This is a computer case that I foundation pieced using the skills and inspiration I learned from the Craftsy tutorial.  Sewn together with many different fabrics and prints, I made sure to use a Heather Ross print.  This particular print (VW Vans) is currently out of print, but you can find it on Etsy in places like this.  I have been coveting this for years, with only a fat quarter of my own, just waiting for a special place to put it.

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Toodles to you all- enjoy your LAST last day of February!

Have a wonderful and inspirational Wednesday!

*Please forgive me for the poor quality of pictures.  I usually do my photos outside, but today is dark and gloomy and not a good day for photography.