Temptation Procrastination

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There’s something that seems to be common among most creative people/makers that I know. None of us can resist the siren’s call of new fabric and new quilt patterns and quilt-alongs. It causes us to throw aside everything we had planned on making to start something wonderfully new. I call that temptation procrastination.

Temptation procrastination is the reason I have 15 completed quilt tops, 2 quilted quilts awaiting binding, and 3 basted and partly quilted quilts languishing in baskets in my sewing room. Let’s not even get into my WIPs that are just cut fabric and various quilt blocks. I can’t count that high.

Is there are cure for this ailment? I think throwing some money at my problem and sending a few quilt tops off to longarmers is a good start.  Then I’ll need a few good shows on the DVR to hack away at that binding and some audio books to keep me company during basting and quilting the rest of that sad, neglected pile. I may not leave my house for the remainder of the year…

Tell me, are you a one-at-time kind of quilter? What are your secrets? I must know.

My Small World QAL – Section 4

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Welcome to Section 4 of the My Small World QAL. There’s a little bit of everything in this section – Clam shells, Economy square, pin wheel, 60 degree triangles, Orange Peel, and embroidery! I’ve gotten off to a slow start with this quilt after choosing my fabrics but once I got into my rhythm I’ve loved working on this. The tiny pieces are fun and challenging.

One of my hurdles in getting going was template making. There are a lot of tiny templates for this project and I was overwhelmed every time I sat down to trace and cut them.  In the end, I took paper copies of the template pages to my local print shop and had them laminated. It cost me less than $4 and I have quite a bit more confidence in the accuracy. Plus they’re labeled!

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There are three things I couldn’t live without while working on this project – 1. Frixion pen, 2. Add a quarter ruler, and 3. Ziploc bags for keeping each section sorted. I trace my pieces with the laminated template and Frixion pen and then use my rulers and rotary cutter to add the 1/4′ seam. For applique shapes, I cut around the template, eyeballing the seam allowance.

Which brings us to my next hurdle – the applique. I’ve tried several methods in the past but my favorite has always been freezer paper. It involves quite a bit of prep but the results are pretty fantastic. Very crisp edges and perfectly shaped pieces. (Jan Patek has a wonderful video tutorial for this method.) If you have a Silhouette Cameo, I wrote a very basic tutorial on using it to cut your shapes that you can find here.

This summer hasn’t allowed me much extra time for applique prep so I’m keeping it simple with back-basting and needle turn. It took me a few rounds to feel like I was back in the hang of it, but now I’m in love with needle turn. It’s also VERY portable.

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I use a bit larger seam allowance than most tutorials mention. Anything less than 1/8″ seams makes my edges fray and I can’t poke and prod it into submission.  Here’s my prepped applique piece – seam allowance marked and basted onto my background with a contrasting thread. I’ve marked lines on my background as well for a placement guide.

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A quilter’s knot holds my applique thread in place (no, I’m not using a matching color. It doesn’t show since you work the stitches in the back.). I pull the needle up right at the basting thread.

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An important tip is to keep the thread perpendicular to the fabric edge. If you are bit haphazard your shape can get skewed and wonky. I fought those wonky stitches in the binding of my first few quilts and they always looked twisted and ugly.

Then you sweep the seam allowance underneath the shape with your needle and take a stitch, hiding your thread in the fold you create with the fabric. Press with your finger as needed. You may also need to cut out the basting stitches as you travel around to give you room to push the fabric edges underneath.

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Here’s my finished block of orange peels and you can see a peek of my clamshells (which I just adore!  I want to make and entire tiny clamshell quilt.)

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Excuse my untrimmed threads.

There are a few things that have helped me while working on section 4:

  • Edge-stitching each section as I completed it and going around the entirely of Section 4 once it was finished. This will prevent too much fraying on the edges and keep all those seams together while I work on the rest of the quilt.
  • Don’t press your background/sky as you sew. Just use your fingers to nest the seams as you go and press the whole thing once it’s all pieced.
  • Trim and square up as you go. Even the tiniest pieces! I can see a big difference in my pinwheels that I squared up versus the ones I just sewed together. Will it matter in the long run? No, but it makes me feel more accomplished to have perfect little points.
  • Pay attention to the pattern. I had to recut several pieces because I cut with abandon instead of paying attention to the direction of the template.
  • And there is a little cheat if all of the tiny pieces are keeping you from starting this quilt! The pattern shows with dimensions of the subsections of each section to help you keep things accurate. You can use some cheater fabrics or larger pieces cut to these dimensions. If applique is not your thing, put in a favorite print instead!
  • My main challenge with this quilt is honestly choosing fabrics. The pieces are quite small so many medium-scale prints won’t work and forget large-scale! I am trying to cut down the time I spend staring at and fondling fabrics by choosing colors that are similar to the original. There’s no such thing as the perfect fabric combination with so much going on in this quilt. You really can’t go wrong.

The only bit of Section 4 I have left to do is the embroidery. I have to think more on my plan for quilting before I get to that, though. I imagine I will add the embroidery on the top layer of my finished quilt.

I hope you are inspired by this wonderful Jen Kingwell pattern! Don’t forget to check in with my co-hosts on their blogs and especially on Instagram. There are so many lovely inspiration photos in the #mysmallworldQAL hashtag, as well.

Happy Sewing!

Cindy of  Live a Colorful life  {@liveacolorfullife}
Megan of Lucy and Norman {@lucyandnorman}
John of Quilt Dad {@j_q_adams}
Danielle of Mes Petits Elefants {@petitselefants}
Kerry of verykerryberry {@verykerryberry}

Little Joys QAL

I’m taking part in Fat Quarter Shop’s Little Joys Quilt Along! It features Elea Lutz’s brand-new Christmas line, Little Joys. She designed the fantastically pretty Flower Milk Sugar and this Christmas line is beyond cute, too.

We are making a Christmas mini quilt –

When this fabric came in the mail, my 3-year-old son was very excited because, well, Christmas! He wanted me to start sewing it together right away but I told him we had to wait a few weeks. Then he said, “And then it will be Christmas!” How sweet are they at that age?

Fat Quarter Shop has kits and the free patterns will be released one week at a time, starting July 8 (next week).

Here’s the full list of bloggers who are sewing along with us!
Sedef of Down Grape Vine Lane (@downgrapevinelane)
Nadra of Ellis & Higgs (@ellisandhiggs)
Tina of Emily Ann’s Closet (@emilyannskloset)
Greg of Grey Dogwood Studio (@greydogwoodstudio)
Jessie of Messy Jesse (@messyjesse1)
Melissa of Oh How Sweet (@ohhowsweetco)
Kristyne of Pretty By Hand @prettybyhand)
Kerry of Very Kerry Berry (@verykerryberry)
Lisa of Vintage Modern Quilts (@vintagemodernquilts)
Erin of Why Not Sew (@whynotsewquilts)

This will be an Instagram-based Quilt Along, so don’t forget to follow us @fatquartershop and @elealutz and use #LittleJoysQuiltAlong to show us your beautiful blocks!

GTSB: Making Progress

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I am nearly done with section 1 of my Green Tea and Sweet Beans quilt! I’ve mostly worked on this quilt in the summers when visiting my parents at their lake house since it doesn’t require a sewing machine (and I don’t usually have room to pack one). Though, now that I have been working on it with my rotary cutter and sewing machine, I’m making a lot more progress.

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(These propeller blocks are actually from section 4, but another one that pieces up so much more quickly on the machine than by hand.) One thing about sewing by hand that I’ve noticed – my seams are not as tight as a machine-sewn block and they tend to come apart at the edges. I’ve had to do quite a bit of re-sewing on the very last 1/4″ of several seams once I squared up the blocks.

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Orange and pink are one of my favorite combinations! One thing I’m really enjoying about this quilt is using up little bits of precious out-of-print fabric (like that rust, orange, and pink dot by Heather Ross from a very old Munki Munki line).

More Heather Ross cuteness – those chickens are going to be sprinkled throughout this quilt.

So here’s a snapshot of my blocks so far:

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My plan is to finish that last block in section 1 and then move on to the machine-friendly blocks in the rest of the quilt.  That will take a big chunk out of what is left to make!

My Small World QAL – Fabrics + Plans

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Welcome to the My Small World Quilt-Along! I am in love with this pattern – like all of Jen Kingwell’s designs, it is unique and adorable. It combines a lot of traditional block designs and techniques, including a bit of embroidery. It’s meant as a wall quilt, finishing at around 33″ x 52″.  I’m going to make mine larger by expanding the background so it finishes around 88″ x 64″ – a better size for a twin bed or throw.

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A quilt like this just wants to be scrappy and I’m happy to oblige. I pulled 14 fat quarters from my stash as a starting point and I’ll add scraps to fill in as a I go. I noticed while reading through the pattern that there are a lot of 2 1/2″ and 4 1/2″ pieces, which are great for Moda candy (2 1/2″ squares) and charm squares (5″ square) so I’m working some of those in from my stash, as well. My only rule is no pink or purple (at least not as a main color in the print).

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I’ve also rounded up a selection of low volume prints from my scrap bin. I suspect I’ll end up having to purchase a few more once the main part of the quilt is complete. Low volumes are hard to come by and I’ve been using them up quite a bit in recent projects.

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My plan is to cut all the background bits first since those are rotary cut. I went through the pattern and made a tally of all the necessary pieces of each size. Then I’ll make my templates for the rest of the pieces and jump in with section one.

If you are joining us on this quilt-along journey, be sure to take a look at the erratum from QuiltMania for section 1. You can download that {here}.

And also pop by to visit my co-hosts! The hastag #mysmallworldQAL is already filling up with wonderful inspiration on Instagram.

Cindy of  Live a Colorful life  {@liveacolorfullife}
Megan of Lucy and Norman {@lucyandnorman}
John of Quilt Dad {@j_q_adams}
Danielle of Mes Petits Elefants {@petitselefants}
Kerry of verykerryberry {@verykerryberry}

My Small World QAL

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Next week we are officially starting the Quilt-Along (QAL) for Jen Kingwell’s fantastic My Small World pattern. You can find the pattern in Quilt Mania’s special 2015 spring edition. It’s in bookshops like Barnes and Noble or get the digital version online {here}. NOTE: Looks like that’s actually a paper copy. See Kerry’s detailed post about where to buy, including online shops in the US that carry it. One is Happiness is Quilting, one of my local quilt shops. It’s a great shop so I’d recommend buying from them. ;)MSWqal300

I’m co-hosting with some super talented people. We will be posting on our blogs and quite a bit on Instagram, as well, so links for both are shown below. Be sure to check out the IG hashtag – #mysmallworldqal.

Cindy of  Live a Colorful life  {@liveacolorfullife}
Megan of Lucy and Norman {@lucyandnorman}
John of Quilt Dad {@j_q_adams}
Danielle of Mes Petits Elefants {@petitselefants}
Kerry of verykerryberry {@verykerryberry}

I hope you can join us!

A Little Makeover

VMQ-hoop-chairs-03There’s just something so cute about tiny kid things. I found this pair of hoop chairs at HomeGoods last week and knew they had to be mine. I’ve been looking at vintage MCM chairs on Etsy and Ebay for weeks and these were a steal compared to the ones I was eying.

VMQ-hoop-chairs-02 They were originally lime green and teal. Very new looking and far too bright. One can of spray paint later, they are a perfect retro orange. I used Montana Gold, a brand you can buy in art stores or even at Michael’s. It’s probably two to three times the cost of regular spray paint at $12/can but it comes in a huge range of colors. I think it’s blendable so it would be fun to experiment with on canvas.

VMQ-hoop-chairs-04I used a bit of fabric that I already had – a Japanese linen blend (note the odd phrasing and misspelling, but it’s still cute!).  It’s a fabric I’ve always loved but never wanted to cut into so I’m really happy that I did. It’s silly to hold onto so much fabric for the “right” project.  VMQ-hoop-chairs-06These tiny chairs were supposed to go in the playroom but I may pair them with a tiny end table and make a spot for them in the living room where the kids will use them every day.VMQ-hoop-chairs-07Diana is certainly enjoying them already. Wish they were my size!

VMQ-hoop-chairs-05 It’s very satisfying to jump in with both feet and end up with something that looks exactly like what I had in mind. It was a fun and quick project, just the thing I needed this week.

City Aviation Quilt

VMQ-city-aviation-02Almost exactly 2 1/2 years from fabric stack to finished quilt. It spent a full year at the quilter, waiting on me to make a backing (tsk, tsk!). But now it is finally done and it’s my second finish of 2015 (the other one is a special/secret project that will be under wraps for a while).

VMQ-city-aviation-03I intended for this to be fall quilt but I think it’s going to hang around the living room pretty much all year long.

VMQ-city-aviation-01It’s good to check this one off the list.

Dimensions: 80″ x  80″

Fabrics:  Bella Solids (Berrylicious, Boysenberry, Clementine, Longhorn, Mustard, Saffron, Dark Denim, Eggplant, Grape, Moda U Brown, Almond), Hope Valley and Katie Jump Rope by Denyse Schmidt, Far Far Away 2 by Heather Ross, Dobby Voile and Innocent Crush by Anna Maria Horner and others

Pattern: City Aviation by Cherry House from the book City Quilts

Quilting Thread:  Superior threads

Quilting Design:  Computerized by Michelle Kitto of Urban Spools

Started: November 2012

Completed: April 2015

Settling In

VMQ-april-05We’ve been in the new house a month and things are mostly organized. Mostly. We still have a storage unit of stuff that we will have to come to terms with at some point. Will it be like Christmas morning, opening all these things I’ve forgotten about in 2 months time? I doubt it, but a girl can dream.

I’ve actually been doing quite a lot of sewing lately, too, which has been AWESOME. Sometimes I just stop and stare out those glass walls. It’s so dreamy.  I am also loving that the kids’ play area is in my sewing space. I can easily keep an eye and ear on what they are doing. The only downfall is sharing my snacks with sneaky little people.

VMQ-april-04Their play area has given my Pottery Barn shelf a new home as a display for vintage Fisher Price toys. I wasn’t really ready to part with it so this new use makes me smile. And Ben loves to rearrange the display.

VMQ-april-03I finished a big {secret sewing} project this weekend and it’s both exhausted and inspired me. As usual I have way more ideas than time, but it gave me a big push to start going through my Moda precut stash – which is quite extensive.

VMQ-april-02I spent a lot of time sorting and staring at fabric this weekend. I’ve pulled fabrics for a Christmas quilt, a Halloween quilt and an American Jane quilt, but the rest are still sorted by color, waiting for their day in the sun.

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Our New Old House

VMQ-new-old-house-01Last week we said goodbye to our home of nearly nine years.  It was definitely more of a happy goodbye than a sad one.  We’d been looking, literally, for years for a new home in our same neighborhood and in January we found the perfect place. In spite of the crazy, fast-moving and competitive real estate market in this part of Dallas, the stars aligned to make it our new old house.  Less than one month from listing our place to closing…

VMQ-new-old-house-07Our old house was a charming but relatively cookie-cutter 1954 ranch home. The new, built-in-1955 place is a mid-century modern design that we both fell in love with at first sight. There is plenty of room for our little family of four plus two naughty dogs to grow and play.

There is a lot of work to do to update it and make it our own, but it’s nothing we haven’t done before. The previous family lived in it for nearly 50 years. We found blueprints from a major remodel they did in 1968, reconfiguring some rooms and adding a sewing space for the woman of the house.

VMQ-new-old-house-08She made a set of pinch-pleat tweed drapes for the room that is now my sewing room. When I was taking them down, I noticed that on one panel the hem of the lining was still pinned. She never got around to finishing the hand-stitching, which is just like something I would do.  What unfinished projects will I have laying around in 50 years? I shudder to think…

VMQ-new-old-house-02I absolutely love my new sewing space. There are two walls of windows and an exposed brick wall plus a large nook around the corner for the kids’ play space. I’ll have to find new storage solutions for my fat quarters since I’m afraid to hang those heavy Pottery Barn organizers on the brick wall and there’s no other spot for them.

VMQ-new-old-house-03VMQ-new-old-house-04I do have an enormous closet for all of my other sewing paraphernalia, though. This house has endless amounts of storage which seems like such a luxury coming from a place that had only one storage closet.

VMQ-new-old-house-06There’s more storage space than I can even fill.

It will probably be a long while before I get this space how I want it to be and I hope you will follow along with me here.