Friday, October 31, 2014

Bloggers' Quilt Festival--Autumn Improv

AmysCreativeSide.com


Today I'm entering my Autumn Improv Quilt in the Original Designs category of the Blogger's Quilt Festival. I've supported the quilt festival for several years because I feel it's a great way to see some amazing projects others have created that I otherwise might not get a chance to see.

Yesterday I posted a tutorial on this quilt for the Oakshott Cottons blog hop. Today I'm sharing a bit more detail about the actual quilt itself.

I love fall. It's my favorite season. The colors are amazing and the weather is perfect. I've wanted to make a new fall quilt for a while. The Oakshott Cottons worked perfectly for this design.


The finished size is about 55" x 68". There is at least one leave in every color from the Oakshott Autumn bundle. I used about 20 different low volume prints. Everything is randomly improv pieced. It's quilted in a simple loopy design.



I intend to eventually add hand stitched quilting detail to each leaf. I started on this orange leaf, and as you can see, the perle cotton I used is a little too similar in color. I'll use more contrast on the coming leaves.

I do love how it is looking on the back. I chose a very simple backing so the leaf outlines will stand out. 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Oakshott Blog Hop-- Improv Autumn Quilt

The Oakshott Autumn Blog Hop

I am thrilled to participate in the blog hop for the new new Autumn colourshott fat eighth pack from Oakshott. I received this beautiful bundle of fat eights to create something fun. I have worked with Oakshott cottons previously on my Unraveled quilt. I love the look and feel of them. The colors are beautiful and wash up so soft. 





For a couple years now, I've been interested in making a Modern Maples quilt. Something has always held me back. Perhaps it's the structure of a pattern or making something that so many others have already made. I knew shot cottons would make a wonderful leaf quilt. Since I will likely never actually make Modern Maples, I did my own take on that idea: Autumn Improv.




Like all of my improv projects, this quilt began as a simple idea and slowly evolved. I first made the leaf blocks. Next I added layers of low volume fabrics around them to create blocks. I really enjoy the free-flowing nature of improv projects and feel it's well suited to the leaves in this case. 

The leaf blocks are fairly simple even though improv piecing may seem intimidating at first if you haven't attempted it before. Today I'm sharing a quick tutorial on how to create these improv leaves.

Begin by cutting out the leaf shape. Simply freehand this with the rotary cutter. My leaves are all different shapes--some long and narrow, some short and round, others somewhere in between. This leaf shape in now way needs to be perfect.


Next overlap the leaf with a large piece of fabric for the right section of the block.

Carefully cut the background fabric to match the leaf shape. Essentially we're making puzzle pieces that will fit together. 


Remove excess background fabric and save for scrap projects or for piecing the quilt later. Mark the approximate center point of the leaf and background and pin. 

Sew from the pin outward on one half of the seam. Repeat with the other half of the leaf to complete the seam. I found sewing in this manner reduces the risk of distortion. The fabric shifts more when sewing the complete seam end to end. 

The leaf should look reasonably smooth once pieced. Then press the seam toward the leaf. Do not stretch the fabric, particularly the leaf fabric. This will cause complication later. 

Finally repeat the whole process with the left background section of the block. Press well. If at this point the block is not laying flat, use a light amount of starch to force it flat. 

Piece blocks together as desired. I loosely used a log cabin style--building the rows of the blocks around my leaves. I pieced my blocks together using the same basic technique shown here with the leaves: overlap sections of the quilt to be joined and cut raw edges to match up. I make matching small dots with a removable marking pen on either side of the seam allowance to guide me and I stitch longer seams. 

I had full intention of creating a very large red leaf on the back of this quilt and requested extra yardage to do so. As I worked on this quilt I  decided to add hand quilted detail in each leaf. As such I wanted a very simple backing to allow the stitching to show up on the back. Although this will take me a while to complete, I'm excited for the ongoing project and love the effect.

I did my first leaf with far too similar of a thread. Generally I think the stitching needs more contrast. Although, I left it as is because I also like the idea of one or two that don't stick out.

It shows up perfectly on the back. My backing is difficult to see in this photo, but it is Branches in Ash from Botanics by Carolyn Friedlander.  It gives a really nice subtle texture while still allowing the quilting to show.

Don't forget to check out the other stops on the blog hop! The last one is tomorrow!

October 21: Sonia Spence-- fabricandflowersuk.blogspot.co.uk
October 22: Rossie Hutchinson-- r0ssie.blogspot.com
October 24: Mary Menzer-- fairlymerry.blogspot.com
October 28: Alison Dutton-- allison-sews.blogspot.com
October 29: Nicholas Ball-- quiltsfromtheattic.wordpress.com
October 30: Kati Spencer-- fromthebluechair.com
October 31: Wynn Tan-- zakkaArt.typepad.com



Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Colorful Stitchery Winner!

Random.org selected our winner this morning, and lucky #6 will receive a copy of  Colorful Stitchery: 65 Embroidery Projects to Personalize Your Home by Kristin Nicholas.

And just who is #6?


Tamie, I'll be sending you an email!

I hope you all have a great day!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Two new bags

The quilting has slowed way down around here. I have turned a bit more to making bags because it's nice to actually get a project done. My sewing time is so scarce lately.

After finishing my first 241 Tote a month ago, a friend asked me to make one for her upcoming trip to the Caribbean. She wanted something bright and fun for the trip. This is what we came up with. She tells me she loves it, and that makes me happy!


Next up is yet another Sew Together Bag. This is the year for them. I don't think I'll make another one after this year is over though. This one was a birthday present for my SIL. It makes me think of the photos from their wedding--black & white with yellow accents. I hope she finds a good use for it!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Colorful Stitchery--A Giveaway

A while back I was contacted by Kristin Nicholas to see if I was interested in receiving a copy of her new embroidery book-- Colorful Stitchery: 65 Embroidery Projects to Personalize Your Home.  Being the collector of crafty books that I am, of course I said yes! As I have dabbled in embroidery projects recently, I am continually interested in learning new methods and techniques.

I received two copies of Colorful Stitchery and have enjoyed looking through it.

I have yet to try felt with embroidery, but I need to give it a try.

I especially loved these pillows--simply embellished corduroy, but I love what the stitching can add on these textured pillows.

This makes me want to add some stitching detail to curtains, although my husband probably wouldn't go for that...

I think it's time to pull out my thread again and start a new project!

Giveaway! Closed

If you would like to win a copy of Colorful Stitchery: 65 Embroidery Projects to Personalize Your Home, simply leave a comment! I'll announce the winner on Tuesday!

Have a wonderful weekend.

This giveaway was sponsored by Roost Books.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Welcoming Autumn

I love autumn! I know I'm not alone. It's by far my favorite season of the year. I've been doing a bit of sewing to decorate around here.

The kids have been complaining about the lack of Halloween decorations around the house. I confess, Halloween isn't my favorite season to decorate for. In fact I have one Halloween decoration-- a cross stitch project I did ages ago. The problem is I hate storing decorations. They just take so much so much space. If I was going to have decorations, they needed to be simple and easy to store. I decided to put together a couple buntings we could hang.

It was simple and quick. I used purchased bias tape and pulled some black and orange fabrics from my stash.


I cut out triangles and sewed them together to make it double-sided. Finally, I pinked the edges before sewing them into the bias tape. Easy peasy!

Next up, I made a new pillow cover to go with my Halloween quilt, which was one of my very first quilts. I chose a soft black fabric from the home dec department of Jo-Ann. I believe it's some type of microfiber fabric, but I admit I didn't even look. I bought 21" which was perfect for the pillow. I do love that Jo_Ann will allow you to buy fabric in any increment. The fabric wasn't quite as sturdy as I wanted, so I basted the front and back to some twill I had on hand, giving it a bit more body. 

I quilted this spiderweb with metallic thread. I am so pleased with how it turned out! It shimmers just enough. The fine, metallic thread doesn't stand out too much. It's just what I was hoping for when I started the project. I began by stitching my straight lines. They are not perfectly spaced, but generally it is an offset "t" with two additional lines per quadrant.

I started the inner circle using my walking foot and that didn't work at all. I struggled getting the the loopy threads of the web to look just as I wanted them. I then switched to my darning foot and actually fmq the rest of the pillow. It worked much better. I was surprised at how well the metallic thread worked for fmq. The final size is about 19" square. I installed an invisible zipper to finish it off.

Finally, I have a new quilt progressing on the design wall! I'll be talking about this Oakshott Cottons project more soon! I'm making this from their new Autumn bundle.

Monday, October 6, 2014

SoakBox Product Review

Back in August I was contacted by SoakWash to do a product review. I am far from a nail artist, but I've seen some fun ideas popping up lately with their nail polish sets. I have heard people rave about their products in general so I figured I've give them a try! I requested the Lizzy House polish set because the colors are different than anything I currently have, plus I was a bit excited to try out the nail art pen included in the kit.

A short while later this fun package showed up at my house:


First up, we'll discuss the hand creme:

Image Source: SoakWash
I was especially excited to try the lotion. I live in a very dry climate and always have dry hands. It's particularly bad in the winter, which will be upon us sooner than I'd like to admit. I have tried nearly every type of lotion out there. I need something that softens my hands without leaving them greasy. The Handmaid Creme does just that. I keep it on my shelf above my sewing machine. It's been great to use while sewing and doesn't leave residue on my fabric. My hands feel smooth after using it and smell great. I received the Yuzu scent. It's a fresh, citrus smell that I love, but can be a bit strong.   I would recommend trying the scentless Handmaid lotion if this is an issue for you. The jury is still out on how well this lotion will work for me once winter hits and my fingertips start cracking. I'm hoping Handmaid will be a long-term solution for me.

Onto the Lizzy House Nail Polish Set:

Image Source: Soakbox
I love the nails of the model which is actually one of the reasons I chose this set in the first place. Who doesn't love Lizzy House Pearl Bracelets?! And to have them on your fingernails? It's just a fun concept! Although, I admit, coming from a girl who rarely does anything more fancy on my fingernails than clear polish, it was a little harder than it appeared.

I love the colors. The are a bit funky and different than my usual picks which tend to be dark pinks or purples. The Nail Art is a great addition to the kit.

First off I had no idea how to use the white Nail Art. There were no instructions. My first attempt failed miserably as I tried to use the skinny brush to make dots. They were uneven and wonky. I figured I must be missing something because there is no way someone could get such tiny, perfect dots with this brush. I googled the product and discovered I was indeed missing something.


Twist the brush back into the bottle and pop off the top to reveal a tiny pen! Now we're in business!

On the bottom of the bottle is a tiny needle to use as a plunger if the pen tip gets clogged. Although, once removed from the bottom of the bottle it doesn't re-stick so I resorted to attaching mine to the bottle with washi tape for safe keeping.

Using the pen tip does require some trial and error. Squeeze just a tiny drop onto the nail to add decoration. 

This was my first attempt as using the pen tip. Not too bad, but I still needed practice.

My second try definitely went better. I wanted to stick with the dots, inspired by the Pearl Bracelet fabric, but at the same time keep it fairly simple. I went with dots only along the top edge of my nail. This design is my favorite by far. It's easy to do, yet looks fun. When using the pen tip, remember to wipe it clean occasionally with a cotton ball soaked in polish remover. The polish tends to dry fairly quickly, leaving traces on the tip--making the dots less than perfect.

For my second attempt using this kit, I decided to do randomly spaced lines on the aqua polish. I love this one! Again it's simple, easy, yet looks fun. The aqua polish is very light, leaving little contrast between the Nail Art polish and the base. This is exactly what I was going for. I wanted the design to be subtle.

When using the skinny white brush, clean the brush almost entirely and then wipe carefully on the nail. I had the best success when I laid the brush flat on the nail and pulled it the full length of the nail. This gave me the most even, consistent line. I still need a bit more practice on this technique.

Summary:

  • The lotion is wonderful! I'm a new fan!
  • The nail polish stayed on a full week with just minor wear on the tips. I think this is pretty good considering the abuse my nails get throughout the day. Each color does require two good coats of polish. It's not a quick manicure because of drying time. It was a fun product to try and a little outside my normal comfort zone, but I'll definitely be using these colors again.
  • The soak worked great on my delicate laundry. Plus it smells great!
I've heard many good things about the Soak products and am glad to say I wasn't disappointed. I'd really love to try Flatter next as I've heard that product works wonders!


Disclosure: Products in this post were provided by SoakWash, but my opinions are my own.