It’s Been a Slow Journey

Scrappy Trip-along Progress

My scrappy trip around the world journey, that is. I pulled all of the 2½” strips from my basket of fabric strings…probably about a year ago to start this project. I made six blocks at one of my small group retreats last year.

Scrappy Trip-along Progress

And then I packed up my pile of a bajillion strips and that’s how it stayed until last week when I had the {table top sewing} epiphany. Wroking on this project in small snippets is  no-brainer – once you’ve made one, you literally never need to look at the instructions again. And these blocks are really fast to make. If you’re working with pre-cut strips like me, you could easily make the quilt top in a weekend.

Scrappy Trip-along Progress

Scrappy Trip-along Progress

I re-sorted my pile of strips into some more manageable sets, ending up with enough for three different quilts. The pink-ish version is the one I’m working on first. I sewed 18 srips sets while watching Clue on Amazon Prime video last week (that movie is still as awesome today is it was in the 80s Maybe more because I’m sure there were joke that totally went over my head when I was a kid.).

Scrappy Trip-along Progress

Two helpful things to have on hand while you’re making these blocks – a pair of spring loaded scissors to quickly snip off excess length from strips and Clover Wonder Clips for keeping the strip sets together after you cut them.

Scrappy Trip-along Progress

(If you aren’t making this quilt, you have to seam rip the strip sets at one point – a good activity to do while catching up on your DVR shows).

My other piles of piles of strip sets are very different color-wise; one is more boyish with lots of green and orange:

Scrappy Trip-along Progress

And the other is a very limited palette for me (only 5 or 6 colors!).. I didn’t photograph it but I’ll do that next time I update on this quilt project.

Funny how one “easy” scrap quilt project has now turned into three different quilts…

Table Top Sewing

If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably very much like me in that you’re obsessed with quilting (and fabric). We all want to sew as much as possible and actually finish projects. I have some big things going on in 2014 that will limit my personal sewing time to a degree, but I still want to make time for some just-for-fun projects.

My solution? Table Top Sewing. I changed things around a bit in my sewing space (tour to come soon) so I now have a lot more surface space. That means more room for stacks of fabric and papers and notions and other random junk, right? NO! I’ve set up five baskets on my table tops with sewing projects mostly ready to sew.

Table Top Sewing

Top Center: Mini quilts. Currently working on Camille Roskelley’s Mini Puddle Jumping quilt

Bottom Left:  Scrappy 4-patches. All scraps!

Bottom Right: Economy/Square in Square Blocks with my Munki Munki stash

Table Top Sewing

Left: APQ Quilt-along Tone It Down quilt (still need to finish cutting this one out)

Right: Scrappy Trip Around the World blocks. Lots of them.

How is this different from what I used to do? Most of my WIPs are in bins in a closet and out of sight is out of mind. I pulled several projects that lend themselves to being sewn in short stints (i.e. nothing with complicated instructions or fabric placement that needs a design wall, etc.). My thinking is that I can sew one or two blocks from a basket each time I go in my space (whether its to work or to sew) and I”ll slowly whittle down each project.

Since there are likely going to be large gaps of time in between when I work on these projects, I’ve made a check list to help me keep track of where I am. This is a good habit to start for any sewing project you’re working! I usually make a post-it or keep track on the pattern page – never quite as formal as the this:

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I am a super nerd for organization though….

RESOURCES: Mint berry basket {World Market}, Bird tray {IKEA}, Teal baskets {Target}, white bins {IKEA}

Aspen Frost Improv Circles

Aspen Frost Improv Circles

I made this quilt as a sample for a demo I did at QuiltCon in February 2013. Yes, it has taken me almost a year to photograph and blog about it! I was kinda busy last year.

The binding is Pezzy Prints (goes with everything!) by American Jane and I quilted it with a free motion Christmas tree design that I just made up. It does require you to be able to quilt the design upside-down, as well. I’m sure there are better digitized Christmas tree quilting patterns out there, but I couldn’t find any for domestic sewing machines (i.e. free hand!).

Aspen Frost Improv Circles

This quilt may look tricky with the improvisational curves but it’s pretty easy to get the hang of the technique. It used 90% of a layer cake plus about a yard of coordinating solids for the quilt top.  This was the first-ever Christmas quilt I made. My son was about 14 months old when I was working on it and he was obsessed with the snowman print. The fabric line is Aspen Frost by Basic Grey – a good modern Christmas line that you can probably still find in stores.

Dimensions: 51″ x  60″

Fabrics: Aspen Frost by Basic Grey,  Pezzy Prints by American Jane, and Bella Solids by Moda Fabrics

Pattern: Original design by Lisa Calle {free tutorial on the Moda Bake Shop}

Quilting Thread:  Aurifil #2600, 50 wt cotton mako

Quilting Design: free hand Christmas trees

Started: February 2013

Completed: February 2013

Quilt Photography

I love photography and I have a fairly nice camera. But having never taken a photography class (I have pinned a lot of good advice on Pinterest that I’m sure I’ll get to someday!), I’m always sorta winging it/fumbling around in the dark. I love the magic of a beautiful photo and improving my photography is a resolution I’ve committed to for 2014, but no matter how good you are at operating the equipment, you’ve got to admit that quilt photography is it’s own special challenge.

Lighting, angles, lenses….blah, blah, blah. I won’t even go there, but I will tell you the one thing that has made my life so much easier INSTANTLY! A photography backdrop stand.

My husband is not always the best quilt photography assistant (my parents are surprisingly good and quite entertaining) and it’s hard to take photos by yourself. Add to that the challenge of a yard that is mostly shaded by a huge live oak…but now I can move the stand to the perfectly lit location (in complete shadow adjacent to complete sunshine FYI).

Photo Backdrop Stand

The stand is lightweight, but definitely not flimsy. I can lift it straight up in the air with two hands while assembled with a quilt on it. And I’m very wimpy. I don’t recommend using one when it’s windy unless you like to see your quilt and stand go flying away like a giant kite.

I obviously still have some improvements to make (like, why didn’t I center the quilt over just a brick background?), but I’m super happy with the stand and it will make pattern photography much easier. It’s also pretty inexpensive – definitely cheaper than I expected when I went searching online. I bought {this one}. Just under $65 and free shipping with Amazon Prime. You will also need a set of clamps.

Christmas Puddle Jumping Quilt

Christmas Puddle Jumping

This one wasn’t ready in time to actually enjoy on Christmas but I have a major head start for Christmas 2014. Right?

Christmas Puddle Jumping

I’m a bit of a purist when it comes to the holidays so red and white was an easy choice for a Christmas quilt.  The little pops of green for the sashing squares are a reminder that this is a Christmas quilt, not just a red and white quilt that can sneak into the house any old time of year.

The snowflake quilting echoes that message. I used a jar lid, a quarter, and a ruler to mark the snowflake design. It’s something I made up to fit in the block.  My initial thought was to do a different design in each one but marking was tedious enough. I struggled with the quilting on this one but I’m really happy with the result.  I did a smaller and simpler snowflake in the sashing squares and a loopy sashing/border design.

Christmas Puddle Jumping

This poor quilt has already been through so much abuse and it’s barely been finished a week. While I was basting it, my dogs trampled it with muddy paws and my toddler spilled apple juice on it. Then one or both of the dogs used it as a fire hydrant while we were iced in the house for four days.  But thank goodness washing it in the middle of the quilting process doesn’t seem to have caused any issues.

Christmas Puddle Jumping

The binding is a wonderful bias stripe from Bonnie and Camille’s Scrumptious line. It is absolute perfection for binding. You get the bias look without having to make bias binding. Thank you, ladies, for making me look like I worked harder than I did. I’ll definitely be buying yardage of that print in several colors to hoard for future projects.

Dimensions: 75″ x  75″

Fabrics:  scrappy mix of reds + green dot for sashing squares, binding is red Bias Stripe from Scrumptious by Bonnie and Camille for Moda Fabrics

Pattern: Puddle Jumping by Camille Roskelley of Thimbleblossoms

Quilting Thread:  Aurifil #2024, 50 wt cotton mako

Quilting Design: Snowflakes + loops in the borders/sashing

Started: November 2013

Completed: December 2013

Quilts I Made in 2013

What a year! 21 finished quilts and several more started. The link below each photo goes to my original post about the quilt (except for the last three, which I haven’t blogged about yet).  I blogged about my 2014 goals on the My Stars blog on Monday so please hop over there to see what’s on my mind for sewing in the new year.

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Giant Scrappy Blocks Micah’s Quilt Cotton Candy Quilt Ben’s Quilt
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Red + Aqua Happy Go Round Stars and 4-Patches Vintage Summer
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Ombre Star Mod Circus Belle Squared A Tied Quilt
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Cool Charms Spring Storms Turkish Delight Midcentury
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Lucky Strike Bitty Bunting Quilt Christmas Puddle Jumping Aspen Frost
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Daisy Chain Rail Fence

Christmas Labels

Are you still wrapping presents?! Don’t feel bad. I usually am, too, but this year I seem to be ahead of the game.
VMQ-gift-wrap-1 Gift wrapping is honestly not one of my favorite things to do but it really does look so pretty when you take the time to do a nice job. This year I put bows and ribbon on every package. I used this this candy stripe ribbon and this poly satin ribbon. The striped ribbon wins for cuteness but the poly is much easier to work with.

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I usually DIY or print labels using one of the bajillion cute printable gift labels out there, but this year I thought I’d take the even easier route and print mine on label stickers (that I already had! WIN). I used Martha Stewart for Avery labels in white (these might only be available in stores) and kraft. (These are available exclusively at Staples, I believe. That’s where I bought mine.)

If you’d like to make your own MS labels, download the Word template {here}. You’ll also need {Prestige Elite Std} font and {A Gentle Touch} font or you can use two of your favorites. For the kraft gift wrap, you’ll need a roll of kraft paper (find it at the dollar store), white ink, and some holiday stamps.

Merry Christmas!

Tone It Down Quilt: Choosing Fabrics

Tone It Down by Lissa Alexander

It’s December 23 and I’m counting down the days to 2014! Think I can get in a couple more quilts before the New Year? I should probably focus on ones that are already in progress but coming off the organizational high of my destash sale, I am in the mood for playing with fabric and starting something new. There’s a beautiful quilt by Lissa Alexander called Tone It Down in the February 2014 issue of American Patchwork & Quilting. It uses traditional piecing and a “modern” low-volume background. Read about Lissa’s inspiration for the quilt {here}. APQ is hosting a quilt-along for this project and I decided it would be a good sewing project for the holidays (chain piecing friendly = lots of audiobooks + mugs of cocoa).

I pulled fabrics for the quilt yesterday, using this retro-inspired Alice Apple felt applique art as my color palette:

VMQ-palette-crushing-on-kitschHere are my fabric picks:

Tone It Down | Fabric Stacks

A variety of pinks for the main blocks across the quilt (pink, orange, and red in the original)

Tone It Down | Fabric Stacks

Mustard + aqua + orange + grass green for the secondary pattern of circles

Tone It Down | Fabric Stacks

And a big variety of low volume prints for the background.

VMQ-palette-templateThis quilt pattern is very scrap friendly so I’ve pulled lots of things from my scrap basket to mix in with fat quarters and yardage from my stash. I want to make the mustard color more prominent so I’ll probably find a print or solid in that range to use for binding.

Are you going to quilt along with us? You can find the magazine at most craft stores or purchase a digital copy {here}.

Jumping the Gun

In the Studio | Dec 2013

I’m trying to get ahead of my New Year’s resolution to organize by starting before this year is even over.  How is that for motivated? My sewing room had gotten so messy that I didn’t even want to be in there. What’s a quilter to do? One word: destash. That mountain of fabric below is all from my latest destash sale on Instagram. It looks like a lot (and it is, let’s be honest) but I still feel like I could have purged a bit more. I’ll save it for the next sale, I suppose.

In the Studio | Dec 2013

Now my studio is about 75% tidy…I still don’t have room for all of my fabric so some is in bins on my sewing table but that will probably always be the case.

In the Studio | Dec 2013

I can live with that. It reminds me to sew faster!

In the Studio | Dec 2013

{Those bins are from IKEA in case you’re wondering.}

I added a bit of decoration while I was cleaning up…hanging up some old things that were just taking up room in drawers.

In the Studio | Dec 2013

And these putting out these cute new tins…

In the Studio | Dec 2013

{available here}

I don’t have anything in them yet but I  could not resist the vintage look. They’re from a company called Now Designs that also makes a few other retro-styled items for the home, like these tea + coffee tins.

All of this cleaning up is very motivating and I have lots of new projects tumbling around in my brain. Fabulous fabric combinations are everywhere.

In the Studio | Dec 2013

{Lush Uptown + Botanics = YES YES YES! Just ignore the Urban Cowgirl bundle on the lower left.}

In the Studio | Dec 2013

{April Showers + Color Me Happy = Made for Each Other}

Ice Storm 2013

We had an ice storm just after Thanksgiving and you’d think that would be the perfect opportunity to sew but I hardly did. Four days in the house was rough on all of us but especially my Christmas quilt. It was peed on twice so I had to wash it. In the middle of quilting. With the safety pins in it and everything.

In the Studio | Dec 2013

It came out just fine and I’m almost done quilting it but I’ve now marked the whole dang thing twice. Horrid dogs.

Santa Claus is Coming to Town

Christmas Wreath

Yes, it really is December already. My door says so.

And he’s going to be here very soon. It seems like Thanksgiving stole a little bit of Christmas thunder waiting until three days before December to make an appearance. I still have pumpkins on my front porch (but there’s a wreath on the door!) I’m actually hoping the squirrels will polish off the pumpkins as they’ve been slowly eating them up since October.

Tree lighting at Casa Linda

Tree lighting at Casa Linda

I have been pretty consumed with projects. I’m actually a little bit panicky that 2014 is so close because I could use a bit more of 2013, please. Just two or ten more weeks.

Christmas Lights

Two very fun things are happening this week that will be a nice distraction – First, the Dallas MQG monthly meeting + ornament swap + cookie exchange. That is always such a fun meeting and um, cookies! Second, there is a Moda Holiday “Pin” Party tomorrow. There’s a party here in Dallas plus an online event for everyone else. We are all going to bring a yummy recipe from Pinterest and chat and share holiday pretty/tasty/fun ideas. I’m sure I’ll blog about it but you can definitely see what we’re doing on my Instagram feed. I need to Pinterest some hair and outfit ideas!