Thursday, March 31, 2011

2011: First Quarter gone already

I saw a lovely post by Elizabeth over at Don't Call Me Betsy which got me thinking; she was looking back on her progress against her crafty goals for the first quarter. So I decided I'd jump on the bandwagon and do the same, and maybe get thinking about what I want to get done by the end of June.

Back at the start of the year, I was still too much in recovery from Christmas to write out any goals. But I did have quite a few actually - mostly short term focused. Here's a little summary:

1. To finish my Bliss Charm quilt. This was the first quilt I ever made, I started it over Christmas and completely fell in love with quilting while I worked on it.


2. To make more from my own designs and I definitely have done this with two custom order quilts for a brother and sister.

PictureBox quilt

I loved how they turned out, and even wrote up a tutorial for the PictureBox quilt, and at the weekend I got an email from Beverly who has made it - I'll post her version over the weekend. That totally made my day, as you can imagine!
Sophie's Dreams quilt
I also designed this handbag and must get working on more bags.


3. To take part in a Quiltalong....I had been reading about these all over, and was hoping one would come along that I felt experienced enough to take part in. Of course, like the proverbial bus, none came for ages and then 3 came at once. In recent weeks I joined up in the Lily's Quilt quiltalong. I'm loving doing the Dresden mini block, its so much fun!


Also, this week I decided that I'm going to take part in the Bottled Rainbows Quiltalong on a small scale. But sadly, I just couldn't commit to the Supernova quiltalong over at Freshly Pieced even though I'd love to do it - I just don't have the time.

4. To take part in the Amy Butler Style Stitches sewalongs over at My Crafty Crap and JemJam. I'm making pretty patchy progress with this one - the Cosmo bag (January) is half done, I didn't do the February bag (the big shopper) at all and I did one small Origami bag for March, although I'd like to do a few more. I'm looking forward to the next one for April, the chequebook cover, I badly need a pretty one.

 

 5.  To make a Charm Bracelets quilt using Kate Conklin's lovely pattern. I even have the Fandango charm pack. But I haven't even come close to starting it.

6.  To make the Alice quilt from Red Pepper Quilts - I just love this one and reckon I have enough scraps for it but again, no time (yet).

7. To take part for the first time in some Flickr swaps. I joined up for the Scrappy Pincushion one and loved taking part, in particular the lovely pinnie I received.  I'll definitely be looking forward to participating in more!




8.  To grow my blog and to take part more in the crafty blogging community - and I've really pleased I've done this. I'm really thrilled and flattered to have lots of new readers this year and I've made loads of new bloggy "friends" all over the world who have given me great advice and lots of inspiration. I love visiting their blogs every week to see what they're up to!

9.  To start selling my handmade baby gifts through Etsy and expand my range of items. Still haven't made much progress with this one - I've been just so busy keeping up with what orders I had, I've had no time to do additional things. But I've still got this on my list to get done before the end of the summer.

10.  To learn, learn, learn!! I'm new to quilting and this last 3 months has been a challenging and wonderful time for me as I learned new techniques, got to grips with quilting basics and browsed online resources, tutorials, patterns and blogs voraciously. I'm now completely addicted to and in love with the process and end result - roll on the rest of the year!!

I have lots of goals for the remainder of the year but think I will spend a little time thinking about them and maybe post them next week! In the meantime I'll be linking this up to Elizabeth's post and checking out everyone else's progress.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

WIP Wedesday #7


I've spent a lot of the last week in the car! Visiting my parents, away at a work conference, its been all go here. I still found some sewing time however, so here is my little progress report for the week.

Completed this week:

Actually, its been a pretty good week, in terms of finishes. I sewed like a woman possessed on Thursday night to get gifts finished for my little niece for her birthday:

  


 


I also managed to get a few small scappy pincushions done - this one with my Its a Hoot scraps:

 


 And this one with some nice Amy Butler scraps I had in my stash, both for some friends:






I also finished this cute little mug rug, after being inspired by all the lovely tutorials for Mug Rug Madness over at the lovely blog Two More Seconds.

 

Its not dissimilar to the wonky stripes one I made a few weeks ago, but I kept the strips quite straight and wonked up the quilting after seeing Jeni's tutorial. I'm really pleased with how it turned out apart from my mitred corners which did not go well (I might pick them back and redo, or I might just leave them!). I've had this fabric in my stash for a while now and it works really nicely as the backing.

  

I have another identical set of strips pieced that I might cut back a little in size and make a complimentary smaller one. I'm thinking that these might work nicely as a Mother's Day present for one of the kids' nanas!


Work in Progress:

I have a lot of projects on the go at the moment. I'm still at fabric layout stage for my Its A Hoot quilt blocks. Nothing to show you yet there, its packed up at the moment but I'm hoping to do more work on it tonight and get piecing the blocks.

I have some baby girl patchwork pram blankets to get done for some friends who had babies in the last few weeks - hopefully will get to finish them this weekend.

I'm working (slowly) at my Dresden plate block for the Lily's Quilts quiltalong. I have the blades pieced and pressed.


I read Lynne's post on piecing the inner circle yesterday and want to do this later in the week. But I want to add an additional inner circle in the brown fabric (like this)


and am not sure how I'm going to do it. I could piece it. But I'm more inclined to applique it on using a nice small zigzag stitch. Much easier and less work. Will it work nicely though or just look weird against the rest of it? I'd love some opinions on this one as I'm really not sure what to do. If its not going to look good, I will (maybe not very enthusiastically) go ahead and piece it - I'll have to do a bit of tutorial searching as piecing circles is not something I've done at all. But I do want it to have a nice finish so I'd appreciate advice from all of you experienced quilters out there :-)

On Hold:

The curtains have gone back in the box to my dismay. Must, must get them moving again!

The Cosmo bag is on a little break, I intend picking it up in a week or 2 again.

Thinking about:

I can't get the Bottled Rainbows QAL out of my head this last two weeks. Really, I so want to do this one but I don't have a) the time or b) the fabric to do it, and I can't justify going buying another FQ bundle for it. Any ideas? Maybe I could size up the blocks and do a few single blocks as placemats / mug rugs in the colours that I do have in my stash? What do you think?

I'm linking this up to Work In Progress Wednesday over at Freshly Pieced, go check out the great projects linked up there, I love seeing what everyone is working on each week! I'm also linking it to Lily's Quilts Fresh Sewing Day:
Fresh Sewing Day @ Lily's Quilts


Sunday, March 27, 2011

Handmade gifts for big and small girls

 

My charming little niece turned one this weekend, a perfect excuse for a visit home to my parents & a fab afternoon in my sister's house celebrating with family! I've made quite a few little gifts for her in her first year as she's my goddaughter - so I wanted to continue the trend. But I've already made her 2 blankets and lots more so I didn't want to repeat anything I'd done before. I bought this lovely book last year and I've used it to make quite a few fleece monsters for my own kids.



So I took it out last week after entering the One Thing, One Week Challenge over at Amy's Creative Side and flicked through it for a little while and decided, with the help of the kids opinions, to make Dilly. I have gorgeous, high quality fleece that I use for my baby blankets and used this to make Dilly - and she's fabulously soft and will be lovely to hold. She's actually one of the simplest and fastest patterns to make in the book which was a bonus too as I had very little time last week with work demands.


 

I think she was a hit too with the little lady! I would definitely recommend this book - the patterns are very straightforward to make and very, very cute - plus, a little quirky, which I really like! My kids adore the monsters I've made for them - they bring them to bed every night and the fleece has held up very well.

I also made some bunting to decorate her room using some lovely fresh, colourful fabric:



As well as my niece's birthday presents, I had some little gifts I wanted to make for bigger girls - my own friends! So I ran up some pincushions in the last few weeks for them. After cutting all the strips and squares for my Its A Hoot quilt, I had lots of lovely scraps left over, many of them conveniently already in small strips. So I pulled out a small piece of coton batting and quilted the strips on as I went.


I just love the colour palette in these fabrics. I had some lovely bigger scraps left over and used one of them for the back:

 

 I also made this scrappy pincushion from some Amy Butler scraps I had. Like the first, its quilted onto a scrap of cotton batting in a very simple style, and the blue, orange, brown and cream colours work really nicely together.


 After our lovely weekend, we stopped off in Kildare Village outlet centre on the way back and I popped into the Cath Kidston outlet store and found this lovely sewing basket. I've been looking for a nice sewing box for a long time but so many of them are just hideously old-fashioned! I love the fabric print on this one and have already moved my sewing supplies from the horrible old functional "craft" box I had from a few years back to this pretty one - a perfect gift for me!!



p.s. - I just wish I had a garden like my mum's for taking photos in - I could have such wonderful backdrops!




Wednesday, March 23, 2011

WIP Wednesday # 6

 

Can you believe its almost April? I can't quite understand where the days are going. Its been super busy in my life this week, mostly in life outside this blog, with work being particularly demanding! It sort of feels like I haven't gotten a lot achieved, but actually I have.

Completed this week:

I made some cushion covers this week for Anna but, stupidly, forgot to take pictures in my hurry to get them delivered! They were simple as they are to go with a beautifully made and painted box and I didn't want to take away from the box but they are cute and I hope they are liked. I actually haven't finished anything else!



In Progress:


Friday Night Sew In was a success here and I have made good progress on the Cosmo bag. I have the exterior pretty much totally completed and just need to do the lining and the button at this stage. I really like the colour combo too now that its made up (I wasn't sure I would when I cut them).


I also got started with picking my fabrics and cutting in the Lily's Quilts Quiltalong. I'm very happy now with the fabrics I chose, and the blue background came about purely by chance but I think it will work. That brown bundle of fabric in the middle is to see if an extra internal circle would work in the middle and I think it will. I need to start piecing it next.



After spending all last night working out measurements, I finally started a new quilt tonight with my It's a Hoot layer cake. This quilt is for my goddaughter; she will be making her First Communion in May and I thought that a keepsake throw quilt would be a nice gift and something she could take with her through her life. The Its a Hoot fabric is perfect for what I want. I'm doing a simple design, alternating 2 different blocks. One is a 5" square with 2 layers of borders; the other is a 4 patch square with borders. The finished blocks will be 9" each. I'll add white sashing of about 3" betweeen each of the squares to make them stand out.

Tonight I cut all my squares and border strips:



Then I made up a trial block of each. This is the first:

 

And this is the second:


I love how these turned out, and I love how the fabrics interact with each other. Tomorrow will be my favourite part, laying out the fabrics and figuring out how it will all go together!

That's my little report - I think its going to be a very quiet week this week as I'm visiting my parents at the weekend and away at a work conference early next week. So my apologies in advance! But hopefully after that I'll be picking it all up again!

I'll be linking up as always to WIP Wednesday over at Freshly Pieced.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Lovely weekend

 

I know its still only Saturday night, but I'm having such a lovely weekend I thought I'd do an update! Even though it seemed like I was one of the few people in the country who had to work on Friday, it feels like an extra long weekend because of St Patrick's Day. Its been all about family and friends the last few days. We took the kids to a small parade on Thursday, and they absolutely loved it. When we were there, we met up with some friends and then brought the kids to see their grandparents when the parade was over where they were spoiled rotten, as always.  Today, we saw both my brothers, their other halves and my little nephew which was fab, as I hadn't seen them since Christmas. Its starting to feel like spring and the kids are loving being out and about in the fresh air. I took the picture above earlier today when we were out on a little walk. I love how the kids' energy is captured in it! They had so much fun. So, its all good here!

I also wanted to report on what I achieved in my Friday night sew in.






My plan for last night was to see how much I could get done on my Cosmo bag from Amy Butler's Style Stitches. Having cut the fabric for this in early January, I then managed to let it slip into my "stalled" list for a long time, mostly due to the fact that I couldn't face all the interfacing! But I rescued it from UFO land almost 2 weeks ago (when I needed something to take out my bad temper on and decided the interfacing was a perfect target!) and it was all ready to go last night:





The first part was the exterior. I love this Amy Butler Memento fabric and paired it with a lime green solid for the handles. This pattern is the first in the book and is rated as easy, but I have to say that I would have had difficulty with this pattern as a beginner. The band and handles require some sewing knowledge to get right - I used loads of pins on the curved seams (and I am not a pinner where I can avoid it!) and had to read the instructions a couple of times before I was sure what I was doing. An extra diagram or 2 would not have gone amiss here to be honest. But the effect is lovely. I used a lavender coloured thread and it contrasted nicely with the lime green handles for the top stitching.



I got both main sides done and made up the side pockets. By then it was getting late, and although I would have loved to get the exterior finished, I only managed to get the side panels attached to one main panel before I left it for the night. But I was really pleased with how much I got done and will definitely be up for the next Friday night sew in. It was lovely to think that in lots of places around the world, some of my bloggy "friends" were also sewing away happily! That feeling of connectedness was very strong.




Tonight I flew through the remaining exterior seams and ended up with the exterior finished:


Then it was on to auditioning fabric and starting cutting for my Dresden plate mini block which I'm doing for the Lilys Quilts Quiltalong. I did a bit of agonising over what fabric to use here. The pattern uses a layer cake and I have an Origins layer cake that I'm just itching to use. But because I'm only doing 1 mini block (due to time constraints), I didn't really want to break into the layer cake and use only part of it. Eek! So, off I went (to Himself's dismay) and pulled out my 2 big boxes where I store my fabric stash. 20 minutes later and there were fat quarters and half yards strewn all over the kitchen table while I chatted away to myself and tried out colour schemes and combinations. Eventually, this is what I came up with:


I still don't know what I'm going to use for my backing fabric and the circle centre! I have some fabric that might work, but there's not enough of it. Any ideas? I'm thinking a cream base with a small floral print or something similar. The leaves mix a heap of different fabric ranges from different designers and ranges so I'd like to keep mixing it up.

I'm pretty happy at this stage with this arrangement; I tried out lots of combinations of the leaves before settling on this one. All I need to do is head off with E tomorrow to shop for some backing fabric!



Wednesday, March 16, 2011

WIP Wednesday #5

It's been a good week here in FairyFace land! Here's my little progress report for the week, lots on it!

Completed this week:

I'm slowly but surely catching up on the backlog of orders for handmade baby gifts I have. This week I got 2 Buggy Snuggle blankets done and a Basic Shapes tag comforter in addition to my other sewing. (I got a couple of custom quilt orders also though, so my list suddenly got longer again!) I made the boy's blanket using Alexander Henry's "2D Zoo" in Pool and I just adore this fabric! It's a lovely fabric for a baby boy and has nice character to it.


The girl's blanket is Ann Kelle's Remix Daisy fabric in pink, another favourite of mine. I have this fabric in tangerine too! 



The baby comforter is made with polar fleece backed with minky, and I appliqued on some fussy cut fabrics in basic shapes.



I think it worked out pretty cute myself! There are no repeats in the ribbons and lots of different colours and textures for baby to explore. Also, an owl. Nothing else needs to be said!



I also got my tutorial for the Picture Box quilt  written up and posted which took a LOT more work than I naively anticipated :-) But it was worth it and I hope that people make it and post it in the Flickr group when they're done.

My other finish was the Origami Bag from Amy Butler's Style Stitches. I joined a couple of sewalongs in Janaury for this book and didn't really get moving with any of the projects so I really wanted to get something completed in March and I picked the smallest possible project!!



Work In Progress:

The Cosmo bag (also from Style Stitches) is very much back on the in progress list. I signed up for Friday night sew in over at Handmade by Heidi:






My plan for my Friday night sewing is to see how much I can get done on my Cosmo bag. It's all interfaced and ready to go, so I'd love to get a good way along in constructing it.  I'm hoping to make a few more Origami bags as well this week to tidy up my storage for my thread and sewing notions.

I'm also making some pillowcovers for Anna to match the two quilts I made her, and some cushion covers to coordinate with the quilts, and hoping to get those done this week for her.

I joined the Quiltalong over at Lily's Quilts this week too and I'm looking forward to getting started with that too!
Lily's Quilts QAL

I'm just going to do one mini block of this quilt due to time commitments but I can't wait. Just need to stop overthinking my fabric choices and make a decision..... I can't decide whether to break open my Origins layer cake and use part of it, or to put together a selection from my fat quarter stash. Decisions, decisions...
  
Well, that's enough to be going on with for one night I think! I'll be linking this up to Freshly Pieced and trying to not think too much about the Supernova Quilt Along that's starting there, I really can't commit to it but I SO want to do it :-(

 
WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Style Stitches Origami Bag



Let me preface this post by asking: who hates putting zip in bags/purses? Seriously? How many of you are jumping up and down waving your arms (well, in your mind at least?) Yep. Me too!

I've had a bit of a dubious relationship with zippered bags for a long time. Zips in skirts, fine, no problem. I found a super easy tute on doing zips in skirts last year and never looked back. But zips in bags just freak me out. They never turn properly for me and they always look messy and untidy.

Now, I know the answer to this is practice, practice, practice. But that assumes some level of craft-fail and I'm not good at craft-fail, it totally discourages me and I HATE making something and then not being able to use it. That's why I do buttons in all the bags I make!


So it was with a little trepidation that I  approached the Origami Bag pattern in the Amy Butler Style Stitches book this evening. One thing about the patterns in this book is that they have a lot of written instructions and not very many pictures and diagrams. When it comes to sewing, I'm totally visual (mostly because I have very poor spatial sense, just ask Himself about my parking!) and I was interested to see how I found the pattern as a result. But, I have to say, the pattern was really well put together (as I would have expected!) and anywhere that I really needed a diagram, there was one, which was great.

After faffing about with fabric for a while trying to decide which to use, and chasing the kids back up the stairs more than a few times, I finally settled on these:




Alexander Henry's Willow Wren, Girl Friday Cosmo Cricket and Ta Dot in Berry by Michael Miller.

I found the pattern fairly straightforward to make, there were a few little tricky bits in it around the zip ends when sewing up the seams but nothing too challenging. And I even managed to sew my zip reasonably respectably! Its by no means perfect but its functional (a big step forward!) and looks ok-ish, it could be a bit tidier and less bulky, but I'm planning on making a few more of these so hopefully I'll have it perfect by the time I get to the last one :-)



I really like this Willow Wren fabric, its super cute, I have a half yard and will definitely be ordering more of it! And the Ta Dot lining gives is a great lift on the inside. This little bag is a good size for sewing notions, threads etc. I'm going to make a few of them for my sewing box in this size and the next size up. I also want to do one for my handsewing kit.



All in all, I'm pretty pleased. It was nice to follow a pattern for something like this and not improvise as I went along which is my normal approach. Even better, my bag turned out not a million miles away from the shape of the photo in the book. I'm going back to tackle the Cosmo bag later in the week - more about that later in the week!




I'll be linking this up to Fabric Tuesday on Quiltstory and other great blogs -> check out the links on my sidebar!