Monday, December 7, 2015

Katie Jump Rope-- My love affair with a fabric line

Is there one particular line of fabric that you have always adored? For me it was Katie Jump Rope. Unfortunately, it came out about a year before I started quilting. I was able to get my hands a few prints before it was entirely gone, but I have never been willing to pay the exorbitant mark ups. I would use the few pieces I have sparingly, scattered through various projects, but always horded them a bit.

When it was announced that there were be a Katie Jump Rope reprint, I was instantly on board. Although, when I actually had the chance to buy it I wasn't sure I was still in love with it. Do you ever have that experience--you desperately want something until you can have it, and then you aren't so sure? Considering I haven't been sewing nearly as much lately, I really thought this purchase through. Do I really want it? I asked myself this question so many times. I have tried to be much less frivolous with my fabric purchases--only buying something if I have a specific need for a project. 

When Pink Castle Fabrics had 20% everything the weekend after Thanksgiving, I decided to splurge. I've liked this line for eight years and have loved pretty much every project I've ever seen made with it. 

It arrived today! It's really pretty. I'm glad I splurged. 

The only thing I'm sad about is the fact that they took away some of the really great colored prints prints. I think the reprint is a bit too heavy on the brown. I intended to make a quilt with only the KJR prints, but I'll likely incorporate some other DS prints into the mix to add more color. I feel like it especially needs more red and orange. 

I still have about a FQ of this print from the original line which will certainly work it's way into my quilt. This was one of my absolute favorite red prints ever. I'm sad this one didn't make the cut for the reprint. 

I've missed sewing, and it's fun to be back with a project! I've decided to make this lovely stack of fabrics into a quilt using the Shimmer pattern by Cluck Cluck Sew. I think it will be the perfect compliment for these prints!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015


Every once in a while I crave the precision of paper piecing. It's fun to work on a project like this (at least for a little while). I felt this way a while back and started a new project. I had a bin full of scraps from a previous project that needed used.

I opted for a pattern that has been floating around Instagram a bit. This is a variation on Grandma's Surprise from Then and Now Quilts by Joyce Giezler. This little guy is just 18" finished. I recently completed the quilting and am currently considering a binding. I'll likely go with navy to frame it. 

Mini quilts are a great way to try out a new technique or get something out of your system. I personally wouldn't ever want to paper piece an entire quilt, but I love it for small projects. It would never finish a whole paper-pieced quilt. This mini alone took me a couple months to actually complete. Now that I've done a little paper piecing, I'm ready to get back into a project that's more satisfying for me and a little less rigid.

Friday, September 4, 2015

New Pouches!

Just a few new pouches!

I made these framed clutches using Diane Stanley's (random or di) pattern. I went a little light on the interfacing. Next time I'll certainly use something with more body.

These are both made with velveteen from Anna Maria Horner. It is perfect for these clutches.

I've been itching to use some of my selvages I've been saving for years. I finally pulled out some of my Cotton & Steel pieces and made this wide open pouch.

I sewed the selvages to cotton duck. The base is navy linen with some metallic accent stitching.

It goes perfectly with my new Super Tote!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

A New Super Tote

I caved about a month ago and started a new Super Tote. I wasn't intending to to make a new bag, but I really wanted to give it another go. I don't use it all the time, but it's a great large back for certain occasions.

It was also a bit of a test run for my new machine. Because I used quilting cotton on the exterior, this bag has layers and layers of interfacing. My machine handled it like a champ! I again used faux leather on the gusset and strap. This certainly complicated things a bit, but I love the functionality of this material. It's easy to wipe clean and holds up so well.

One of my greatest frustrations with the first bag I made were the interior pockets. I followed the pattern and disliked how they came out. They are puffy pockets with elastic at the top (similar to those in many diaper bags). It wasn't functional for me. I found all they did was hide the bottom of the bag and make it difficult to find anything. They also got in the way when I attempted to put larger items like a binder or my laptop in the bag. This time around I chose simple panel pockets and cut them the same shape as the lining pieces. They are approximately the same height as the pattern pockets. I like these pockets so much better! I sewed dividers in each panel to fit my personal needs--pens, lip gloss, phone. etc.

I used all Cotton & Steel fabrics, with the exception of the lining. I've found I prefer a simple, light colored lining fabric for large bags. It's hard enough to find things in a deep bag, but it's even harder against a busy, dark background fabric. Everything seems camouflaged. I used Essex linen in flax for this lining.

I added a couple pops of color inside like this green zipper and green key fob (neither of which are included in the original pattern, but I find them completely necessary). 

The evening I was working on the front pocket snap, I realized my stash of magnetic snaps was depleted. Luckily, I had one pink one left from a previous project. I wouldn't normally have chosen this, but it really worked out perfectly!

I was working only with fabric and materials I already had on hand to make this bag. I had exactly 1/2 yard of the outer viewfinder fabric. I would have preferred extra fabric to match the fabric pattern better. Next time I will order extra to allow for this.

Love it! It's already been used multiple times.

Monday, August 31, 2015

A new sewing machine!

I bought a new machine! After the disaster with my old machine, I finally invested in a new one. I debated and held out as long as I could, but even though I'm sewing less, I really couldn't be without a functional machine.

Here is my new machine:

This is my tiny little sewing space where my machine lives. It's nothing fancy or perfectly decorated, but my kiddos do create all sorts of drawings and switch out my artwork every now and then.

I was looking for some fairly specific items with the new machine. When I purchased my previous machine, I had only been quilting for about six months. I knew I wanted to stick with quilting for a while and wanted something that would make this hobby easier, but I didn't really understand exactly what I wanted or needed from a sewing machine. After six years of quilting, I'm much more clear about what I need and what I don't need.
  • I needed it to be fast. I can fmq fairly fast. I was constantly frustrated with my last machine because I could quilt faster than it could.
  • I wanted it to be sturdy and solid.
  • I didn't care about a computerized machine.
  • I didn't want any fancy stitches. On my old machine I only used straight stitch and zig-zag. Fancy stitches aren't my style.
  • I needed it to be able to handle heavy fabrics.
  • I needed it to quilt well.
I knew I wanted a straight-stitch machine. I still have my very first machine, and while small, it is a great back-up for zig-zag when I need it. I also have a serger for finishing edges when needed. I knew a straight-stitch would meet my sewing needs 95% of the time.  Because I have these other two back-up machines, I knew they would fill that extra 5% when a straight-stitch wasn't adequate.

I narrowed my search to the Juki 2010Q and the Brother 1500S. They are essentially the same machine. They look nearly identical, and I've been told by a couple people in the industry that many of their parts are manufactured in the exact same place. There are two main differences. the Juki has speed control while the Brother does not, and the Juki costs an extra $400 coming in at around $1000. The Juki definitely has a following and everyone swears by theirs. The Brother obviously sells fewer machines as there is less of a following, but everyone I know who has one loves it. I ultimately went with the Brother. Basically, speed control wasn't a deal breaker, and it wasn't worth $400 to me. Price was a big factor for me this time around because prior to a small person pushing my old sewing machine off my desk and breaking it, I wasn't planning for this purchase.

After sewing on my machine for a couple months, I love it. It's fast, sturdy, sews through leather an vinyl without any problem at all, and it quilts wonderfully. The tension tends to be a bit finicky. I'm constantly having to adjust it, and this has taken some getting used to since my last machine was fully computerized and did all the thinking for me.

I love the pressure foot adjustment. I didn't have this option on my last machine, and it's wonderful to be able to adjust how fabric feeds with this feature.

I also really like the pin feeding system. Basically, a pin pops up from the bottom while sewing to help heavier fabrics like leather and velvet through the machine. 

Overall I'm completely happy with my new machine. It is a pain to pull out another machine when a straight-stitch won't do, but generally it meets my needs perfectly. I'm a bit sad I didn't realize what I needed when I bought my "nicer" machine six years ago. It was nearly triple the price and had so many extras I never used. Hopefully, this one sticks around for many years. 

Monday, July 27, 2015

Vignette Quilt

A couple months ago I received a fun package from Laura Gunn of her new fabric line, Vignette. This line has several large scale prints which threw me a bit. I don't often work with large scale prints, and I didn't want to cut them too small to lose the designs. I finally opted to upsize a single block. This simple HST block, LynneBobSquarePants, from Lily's Quilts was perfect!

I made the blocks as large as possible with the fabric I had. These blocks are 9" finished. The competed quilt is 54" square.

I used the leftover fabric on the back in what has become a very standard back for my quilts. I love using up the excess fabric and find this a simple, quick pattern to effectively use it.

I quilted it in a simple loopy design.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Maker Plus Quilt

I adore the Maker line from Art Gallery. I only had fat eighths of the prints. Originally, I intended to make a small baby quilt with the fabrics I had on hand, but decided it needed to be bigger. I filled in the additional space with various Art Gallery Pure Elements. These solids coordinate perfectly with the prints.

The finished blocks are 3" square. The finished quilt size is 57" x 72" (19 blocks x 24 blocks).

I used a boxy quilting design on this quilt. It is backed with a piece of gray minky I've been holding onto for a while. It was perfect for the back of this project. I love how the quilting shows up on the back.

I really love this one! Once it is washed it will be a perfectly snuggly quilt.

Friday, July 10, 2015

MIchael Miller Challenge Quilt...Finally

I finally finished this quilt! It has been in the works since last summer when I started working on it for the Michael Miller Challenge through MQG. I wasn't in love with it the entire time I was making it, which explains why it took me so long. This is one of the problems I have with challenges. Sometimes the fabrics and colors just aren't me. Although, now that it's finished I'm quite happy with it how it came together.

I quilted this project several months ago, and it took me until just last week to finally bind it. I love the quilting on this one, although, don't look too close! This arch design is hard to execute smoothly on a standard machine.

I'm still unsure of how this embroidery pattern will wear over time, but I love this addition to the design. It's something unique that I've never attempted before.

I originally intended to back this quilt with minky, but ultimately opted to back it with a Target sheet I've had in my stash for a long time. I also pieced together a few sections of the leftover fabric. I really didn't want any of this left. These prints are not ones I see myself using again. Making quilt backs like this are my favorite because it uses up the leftovers in a constructive way without wasting anything or increasing my stash size.

I bound it with a sketch print in orange. I was leaning toward aqua, but with the backing of the same color, decided to frame it with something that would provide more contrast.

The final size is 60" x 72", which I think is the perfect throw size.

Monday, June 22, 2015

The No-Good, Very Bad Sewing Month

Remember how I'm a quilting blogger? Yeah, I forgot too...

June has actually been quite a rough sewing month around here. I forgot how little I accomplish in my life when my kiddos are home all day from school. When they sleep I have been working on a quilt and pattern that will be coming out next spring. I'm so excited about this one! I can't wait to share it down the road. This means that I have very little else to share lately. All my excess time and energy (of which there has been little), has been devoted to this quilt.

On to the "No Good, Very Bad Sewing Month":

First there was this:

My daughter was working on a bead bracelet at my sewing desk (alone and without asking permission to be in my sewing room). A bead rolled innocently under my sewing machine. To get it out she started to push my machine. She kept pushing and it eventually fell off the desk. See that little crack in the touchscreen in the bottom right corner? That little crack has made it next to impossible to use my machine. The touch screen no longer works. With the touch screen dead, I can't adjust any settings on my machine. Nearly everything is controlled by that screen (tension, feed dogs, needle position, stitch length, stitch design, etc). I can't change anything. I've decided it's not worth repairing, so now I'm in the market for a new machine. It's been so discouraging to lose my machine mid-project. It does start up into a basic straight stitch that I use for piecing, so I was luckily able to finish piecing my current project. The tension goes crazy when I sew fast and there are some other issues internally, but I babied it along to make it through this quilt.

Then there was this:

Make sure you watch where your rotary cutter is headed! I looked up at my son when he asked me a question and my cutter jumped the ruler edge and left a nice little slice in my finger. Luckily it has healed up nicely. I pulled out my own stitches the other evening and am glad to have them out.

In some ways I feel like the universe has been trying to tell me something. I haven't been motivated to sew much in recent months. Sometimes I miss it, but sometimes I feel like I need to stop sewing. I've debated if I should just move on and not replace my machine. I have my small starter machine that works fine for little projects and repairs, but would drive me bonkers to use on a quilt or large project. In the end I know I can't let it go completely. I need to replace my machine.

I do very little to monetize my blog anymore. I'll be raising funds for a new machine in a few other ways.

Friday, April 24, 2015

On the Design Wall

I haven't shared the contents of my design wall for a long time. This one is almost done! After finishing my Sparkle Punch quilt I decided to pull out a WIP that has been sitting in a box for a while. I started this project more than a year ago for the Michael Miller Challenge through the Modern Quilt Guild. Obviously, I didn't finish in time. I wasn't really that interested in the competition this time. I just wanted to make something with equilateral triangles. I have to finish piecing the top three rows, and then I'm done! I will likely piece a simple back for this one. I want to use up all my leftovers and will incorporate them into the design.

The whole quilt was based around this embroidery project. I needed a summer roadtrip project last year and started this. I traced the design from the large scale print from this line. I chose matching colors and just started stitching. I debated actually including it in the quilt, but knew it would just get put in a box otherwise, so it is placed in the bottom right corner where I often place something unique in my quilt designs.

So close!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Sparkle Punch Quilt

I finished a quilt! This is a big deal since I haven't finished a quilt since December (which my sister assures me still exceeds normal for the rest of the population. She likes to remind me that I'm a tad bit crazy sometimes).

I created this quilt basically using the Sparkle Punch quilt tutorial on Oh Fransson. (I am not linking directly to the posts about this quilt-along because, honestly, I can't find them. This site is under construction, and some content is currently unavailable. I will update links when available). This tutorial requires the squares to be 3 1/2" cut. I chose to make mine 4" cut since that works better with fat quarters. I adjusted the number of stars for the quilt based on the backing I planned to use. I wanted to back this one with minky. I was able to get 17 x 22 finished squares in for the piece of minky I had.

All fabrics used in this quilt are from Cotton & Steel. I love the colors of their basics lines and find myself using them in place of solids. The stars have just enough pattern to be interesting without being overwhelming. I also mixed in just a few of my favorite prints from various lines.

I used this bright plum print from the Mochi line for my binding. I really like how the small circle groups look when wrapped around as the binding.

I used a swirl design for my quilting. The quilting tended to be a bit more frustrating with this quilt. I think a combination of the minky plus the metallic print I used for the background fabric made for an unhappy sewing machine. I had tension issues that were difficult to correct and lots of thread breakage. I was glad when I finished this one up, but I do love how the quilting looks, especially on the back.

The final size is 60" x 77". Just right for wrapping up in on the couch!

Photo lightened to show detail.