Monday, March 23, 2015

Positive Reinforcement for the Quilting-Averse

I have a pile of WIPs—all quilt tops—that I must work through. It’s really an issue of my sanity. I cannot start another big quilt project until I’ve made a dent in that pile.

So I’ve established a system: I work on a quilt, I make a bag, I work on a quilt, I make a bag. It’s like when you reward your dog with a treat for sitting/staying/rolling over. (In that scenario, I am a dog, and my quilt is made of things like corn and chicken byproducts.) This may sound ridiculous, but it’s working!

I don’t have a finished quilt to share—yet. I do, however, have a bag. It’s a full-size Miranda Bag from Lazy Girl Designs. It resembles the Mini Miranda Bags I’ve made in the past (see here and here); it’s just bigger.

This is a gift for a new friend who’s been sick. She may know that I sew, I can’t remember. Getting random handmade goods is a hazard of being friends with me, though, as she’ll soon discover.

I used two of the generous one-yard cuts my sister got me for Christmas. My sister puts such thought into presents for me—perhaps more than anyone else I know—and the idea that she entered a quilt shop for me is to her credit. (She may need positive reinforcement for the crafting-averse.) I paired the green print from Bonnie and Camille’s April Showers line with the floral from Lily Ashbury’s High Street line for the exterior. The interior and faux binding use Kona Steel.

My favorite aspect of this project is the handles. I used plastic handles with my Mini Mirandas, but this bigger version is more tote-like, less purse-like, so I made fabric handles, using the construction details from Noodlehead’s Cargo Duffle (which, by the way, will be my next bag project after I make headway on those quilt tops). I am over the moon for these handles. They will definitely appear on other bags I make.

Alas, my bag tangent is over. It’s time to get back to quilting. But first, a public service announcement: I am also active on Instagram (@frombolttobeauty), and all the cool kids follow From Bolt to Beauty over there, too. It’s where I highlight WIPs, fabric purchases, fabric-y gifts I’ve received—noteworthy stuff that doesn’t merit a full blog post.

Sometimes, dear reader, I have IG-only giveaways, like the one I held back in February. Jo, over at Riddle and Whimsy, won this sweet fat-quarter bundle of Amy Butler’s Violette line. I’m closing in on 300 IG followers and getting the itch to hold another giveaway. Consider yourself informed.

Hmmm ... do you have a vote for what my next giveaway should be? A pattern? Fabric? Thread? A handmade item? I suspect you like winning things just as much as I like giving them away!

Linking up to Sew Cute Tuesday, Let’s Bee Social, Needle and Thread Thursday, TGIFF, and Finish It Up Friday ...

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Sunday, March 22, 2015

More Lizzy in the House

I did it! I signed up for the Lizzy House Mini-Quilt Swap over on Instagram. (Sorry, folks, registration is closed.) This is my first swap, and I suspect it works a lot like other ones: I filled out a questionnaire about my quilty likes and dislikes, and I was assigned a partner, who is probably not the same person sewing for me. I can’t reveal myself to my partner, so I am stalking her on Instagram—looking at what she posts, what posts she’s liked, etc.—in addition to keeping tabs on the other social media she’s into. In three months, I need to mail a mini to her, using predominantly Lizzy House fabrics and whatever design I think would best suit her.

Upon being assigned a partner, I decided I need to buy more fabric.

I mean, I have a bunch of Lizzy House—a full colorway of Catnap, plus some Pearl Bracelets and Jewels—and she’s into those prints. But her color preferences don’t match up to my stash, and I need more variety to work with. So this happened …

My go-to online fabric source for older bolts is Cia’s Palette. Please note: I reveal this to you, Sunday stashers, with much reservation! I’ve fancied CP my own personal fabric store for years now. The stock hasn’t changed much in a good while, and I’ve been able to purchase lots of out-of-print fabric there for reasonable prices. I hope you appreciate this act of great generosity—and don’t buy the joint out!

My top priority was Lizzy House. I got selections from Castle Peeps (the top two fabrics) and Outfoxed (the bottom three). Now I have the hedgehogs in two different colorways. : )

I also bought (from top to bottom) some Denyse Schmidt/Chicopee, Felicity Miller/Charleston Farmhouse, Sweetwater/Reunion, Sweetwater/Lucy’s Crab Shack, and Zen Chic/Comma. Did I need the second set of fabrics? Well, no. But you do what you have to do to get free shipping.

I think I’ll be buying some more Pearl Bracelets before I start sewing my mini, and my LQS has Jewels in emerald green. I’ve got to snatch up some of that before it’s too late.

I’m curious ... what can you not resist buying? I really like Lizzy House, but I probably wouldn’t be buying the older yardage if it weren’t for the swap. My weakness is Denyse Schmidt, especially Denyse Schmidt on sale.

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Monday, March 16, 2015

Transformation Complete: I’ve Become My Mother

It’s official: I’ve become my mother. This isn’t news to anyone who knows me in non-blogging life, least of all my mother herself, but it’s a transformation that, I think, has only recently come to completion.

It began as an interest in sewing. That hobby then started to account for much of my free time. I decorated my house with handmade pillows, curtains, and such. I started dragging my children to fabric stores. I learned to quilt. My sewing machine and all the accoutrements that go with it laid claim to a sizable chunk of the square footage in my house. (My family used to call that space the “dining room.” My husband now calls it “Quilter’s Way,” after my local quilt shop. He thinks he’s being funny. He is not. My father calls the space my mother uses to sew the “sweat shop.” Now, that is funny. My dad also calls my mom’s guilds her “subversive groups,” convinced that a bunch of ladies don’t get together frequently to talk about sewing; they must be up to something more nefarious, like plotting world domination. Funny!)

Anyway, here is the latest sign that I’ve become my mother: I’m going on my first quilting retreat, and I’m crazy excited about it. This event doesn’t happen for another month, but I’m already choreographing my approach to nearly three days of uninterrupted sewing time. My current plan of attack is to cut three or four projects in advance of the trip, assembling whatever notions and stuff I will need. So far, this retreat looks as if it will be a scraptacular event.

Project #1: The Fat Quarter Shop’s Mini-Charm Mix Table Runner

I have some Christmas scraps to use up and like the simplicity of the Fat Quarter Shop’s Mini-Charm Mix Table Runner. (Get the free pattern here.) I cut up a bunch of fabrics that have a vintage feel to them—a red holly print, a green selection with bells and candy canes, a small red check, etc.—as well as a white-on-white crosshatch from Carolyn Friedlander. (My LQS had a bolt, and it went fast.) I’m hoping to chain-piece to my heart’s content during the retreat and save the quilting of this runner for afterward.

Project #2: Laura Jane Taylor’s Obsession Quilt

I’ve had Laura Jane Taylor’s Obsession Quilt on my radar screen since last fall. I thought I was further along with cutting the necessary squares, but once I began counting my stockpile, I realized I had more work to do.

I’m glad that I am prepping this ahead of schedule. As it turns out, there is a dearth of teal fabric—scraps or yardage—here at From Bolt to Beauty world headquarters. I need to remedy that!

I’m not sure what else I will take with me on my weekend away. Maybe projects #3 and #4 won’t be as scrappy; I’ll have to think about it. Have you been on a quilting retreat? If so, I would love to hear your thoughts on my preparation plans and whether you have any advice for me, the retreat newbie.

Linking up to Scraptastic Tuesday and the folks who keep me honest about the scrap scene around here as well as Sew Cute Tuesday, WIP Wednesday, Let’s Bee Social, and Needle and Thread Thursday ...

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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Auction for Eleni

Whether you’re a sewist, quilter, or other kind of crafter, I think you’ll agree: When something unexpected and tragic happens, we make. On one level, creating gives us something concrete to do, instead of spending too much time with our thoughts. It’s also a way to express our love and support for others, and that’s why I turned to my sewing machine when I heard what is going on with Eleni, Rachel Hauser’s (Stitched in Color) newborn.

I made my most recent Sew Together Bag for the Auction for Eleni, an Instagram event (IG: @auctionforeleni) that will occur this weekend, on March 14 and 15, to support Rachel’s little one. I chose color-saturated fabrics from Rae Hoekstra’s Lotus Pond line for this project.

If you’re in the market for a Sew Together Bag, I think my pictures tell the story best:

This bag measures 13.5" long (with handles), 4.5" tall, and 5" deep.

The interior contains three zippered compartments and four open compartments. It features more selections from Lotus Pond.

Each of the three zippered compartments is lined with this pale pink fabric from Lotus Pond.

Rachel Hauser has given so much to the quilting community—with her blog, her classes, her patterns. I’ll leave it to her to fill you in on the challenges Eleni is facing. (See posts here, here, and here.) If you would like to show your support, check out the Auction for Eleni. In addition to handmade items and quilts, there are many bundles of fabric, plus special listings for longarm services and more.

Also: If the auction isn’t your thing, Jodi, at Tales of Cloth (formerly Tickle and Hide), is collecting hexie flowers for a quilt for Eleni.

This project is also my submission for Le Challenge’s latest theme—passion or obsession. I’ve tackled five of these bags and their 20 zippers (!), so I think it’s fair to say that I’m obsessed with the Sew Together pattern. If you’re interested in the details on my approach to assembling this project, you can read Michelle: 1, Zippers: 0 and Thank Goodness Its Finished Friday.

Linking up to Let’s Bee Social, Needle and Thread Thursday, Thank Goodness It’s Finished Friday, #CreativeGoodness and Le Challenge ...

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Sunday, March 8, 2015

Lizzy House on the Brain

I’ve had Lizzy House on the brain. It’s not an unusual phenomenon; I like her work and have bought plenty of her fabric. But yesterday, at Lee Heinrich’s trunk show with the NHMQG, I saw this quilt, which features Lizzy’s pearl bracelet fabric. Then my Instagram feed reminded me of this event, hosted by Jo (IG: riddlingwhimsy) and Sarah (IG: smilestooloudly):

I decided to take stock of the Lizzy House fabric I have on hand. I’ve bought both Pearl Bracelets and Jewels in many different colors. They are not your average basics. The latest infusion of Lizzy House-ness to my stash, however, was this collection of fat quarters from Catnap. I’m no longer a cat lover (I married a man who is allergic to cats—it was a price I paid for love), but I couldn’t resist these critters.

And the mice! Eep—they are hysterical.

I had been trying hard to avoid signing up for the swap because (1) I already have more quilty projects than I can shake a stick at and (2) the idea of piecing and quilting for a quilter I don’t know stresses me out a bit. I have until March 10—as do you!—to make a decision. To learn more about this Instagram swap, go to Jo’s feed. To give me a pep talk about how awesome swaps are and why I should join this one, comment below.

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