Friday, May 31, 2013

2 Quilts in 4 Days

As in I started and finished two quilts last week, within four days. Sometimes I'm really good at convincing myself that some crazy sewing task will be much easier than it actually will be. And then, once it's started, there comes a point when I realize I was way wrong. But then at that point, not finishing would be a giant failure.  Totally rational right?

Friday was Hendrix's last day of preschool, which was really a big class picnic at a park. I started thinking about gifts for his two teachers on Monday. Again, I'm not really sure that there was a lot of logic that led to the decision that I would "just" make them each a simple quilt by Friday morning. But that night I picked fabrics for this first one and got it cut and mostly pieced. 

These were nearly all fabrics I've used in recent projects, so I really enjoyed the challenge of picking a cohesive scheme from just scraps. I knew this teacher liked purple and fun, bright graphic things. So I started with the light purples and the pink Melody Miller typewriter that was leftover from this bag I made last fall. From there, it was pretty natural to go with some more pinks, the navy ships, and some aquas and limey greens. I also really liked the idea of that dark green moon print from Tula Pink's Nightshade, but was nervous about keeping it in there. It was leftover from Hendrix's Halloween bat wings. But once it was all together, I loved it. Every quilt needs that "out of left field" kind of fabric. 

So for each quilt, I only had to buy some backing and binding, which I of course went to Sewn Studio for. I don't know how anyone lives without a good local shop nearby for this kind of thing!

The white print on the back is from Julia Rothman's new Ride line. It's little bike gears, but it just looks like a really fun dot. I might need a bolt of it. The binding is from Jay McCarroll's Center City line. The quilting is just a quarter inch on either side of all the seams, plus a diagonal grid in the same way. 

So by Tuesday evening this top was pieced as well. For the other teacher, I knew she might like a little more conservative color scheme. I started with the Joel Dewberry Deer Valley print in red and then added some dusty blues and golden yellows. And even browns! I almost never use reds or browns, but I loved this color scheme once it was all together. This was also a lot of scraps, but I had to cut into a few fresh fat quarters in my stash too. 

With both of these quilts, the initial fabric pull got changed up a little once all the cut squares were lined up. On a quilt like this, it would be impossible to get it just right the first time. Well, for me anyway. Usually, you lay everything out, notice a couple of the prints don't quite work, then go dig around for the replacements. That's all part of the fun. 

Here on the back you can see my quilting a little better. This was definitely the biggest quilt I've ever done an all over free-motion design on, and I'm so happy with how it came out! I recently sat in on my friend Millissa's free-motion class at Sewn. Just hearing her tips and watching her do it helped me improve so much. Just buying quilting gloves made a huge difference for me. The best thing about quilting this way was how fast it got done. The worst thing was how bad my neck hurt afterward. Gotta figure out how to avoid that!

I went with solid red binding and this great backing fabric from Timber & Leaf by Sarah Watts. I had Hendrix write his name in the bottom corner of each quilt back and I wrote the year and who it was for.

So they both got finished pretty late Thursday night. I was so relieved, and SO TIRED. Nick helped keep the kids out of my way a lot during those couple days, which was very sweet. He must have seen I had my sewing crazy eyes on. But it was all worth it because Hendrix was so excited to give them to his teachers and they absolutely loved them. They both mentioned how perfect the colors were for them. Sometimes you just wanna make everyone a quilt. You can't, but I think the ladies who made Hendrix love his very first year of preschool really deserved it. Plus it was fun.

They are both made with 36 squares, 10" unfinished, which makes about a 57" square throw quilt. So if you wanted to make this kind of thing even faster, a precut layer cake would work great. I don't think I normally would have made something so simple if I hadn't been time crunched, but now I want to make more just like them. Sometimes simply letting the fabric choices and quilting be the stars of the show is really satisfying.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Quilts for Boston (and a winner)

You may have heard about the Boston Modern Quilt Guild project to collect quilt blocks and assemble them to give to those effected in the marathon bombing.

The deadline is past to send in your blocks, but a few days ago, their blog said they had collected over 1200 from around the world. Amazing. They have quite a job ahead of them finishing up all those quilts! Thank you so much to the BMQG for providing us with a tangible way to sew up some love for that city.

So these are the four blocks I made to send in. The design I ended up with was a very happy accident that started at our last sew-in with the CincyMQG. I had planned on working on some Boston blocks there, but I was running late for the sew in and ended up just grabbing another project that was ready to go. But when I got there, member Sheila was also working on some great HST blocks for Boston. Her problem was that she had cut way too much fabric and wouldn't be able to assemble them in time, so I was excited to start sewing her fabric up. 

Instead of making HST's with the 6" squares she had cut out, I made disappearing 9 patches. But they ended up way to big for the 12.5" block requirement. So I slashed them up (disappeared them?) again, mixing all the pieces up. Then they were a tad to small so I slashed a couple more times and inserted a scrappy 2" wide strip in each direction. Those were actually they only parts that were my own fabric. 

I love the way they turned out! I definitely want to make a whole quilt this way at some point. Maybe using all low-volume and solid scraps? 

Make sure to check out the BMQG site for pictures of the quilt tops they are already beginning to finish up. And I also like to check the #quiltsforboston tag on instagram sometimes. (I'm alittlegressica there.)

Looking for the Roly Poly Pinafore giveaway winner?

It's #33 Mary Ann. Congrats!! And a have a great holiday weekend everyone!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Roly Poly Pinafore- Review and Giveaway

Welcome to my stop on the Roly Poly Pinafore blog tour. This is a new pattern from my in real life friend, Rachael of Imagine Gnats

Let me tell you about Rachael. She is really funny, really generous, and totally going places. I wish I had her drive! I've never known someone who can bring ideas to life as fast and as well as she does. It's like she just goes around whipping her world into shape. I can never wait to see what she does next!

So this pattern is one of the most recent accomplishments from Rachael. (Hey, I think I'll try writing children's patterns...poof! Nailed it.) It's downright adorable. And it's also quick, easy to make and fun to pick fabric for and customize. What else could you need in a  summer pattern?

For my version I used a Lotta Jansdotter dot from here Bella line, and the glasses print from Riley Blike's Geekly Chic. Both were stashed from Sewn Studio, and I had been waiting for the perfect opportunity to use them together. The lining is a lovely and light Kaffe Fassett shot cotton my mom got for me at a recent quilt show. (Thanks mom!) 

The skirt she's wearing here is a corduroy Oliver & S Sailboat skirt I finished up during KCW. 

I love the sweet pleat detail that Rachael added to this classic kids shape. It's perfect. I chose some great tealy-green buttons for the shoulders from my vintage collection. (They really bring out the food on her face.)

This is the second day in a row Elsie has worn this top. It just looks great with everything and I want make her about a dozen now. I love how sweet her shoulders look in it and when her little baby back peeks out.

She is normally wearing a 2 in most patterns, but for this I cut a size 1 but lengthened it to a 2. I'm glad I read Tara's post about that before making mine. (You have to check out her version, it's geniusly cute!)

Even though I honestly think you should run and buy this pattern immediately, Rachael has been kind enough to offer a giveaway to one lucky reader. To enter, just leave any comment. Please remember to include your email so I can contact the winner! One entry only please, open to anyone.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Vintage May: My 80's Pop Art Boy

This post is part of the awesome Vintage May series with Skirt as Top and Craftiness is Not Optional. These ladies have put together a 2 week tour of the decades with some very talented seamstresses. Everything in this series is always so inspiring- you won't want to miss anything!

If you have spent much time around my blog, you know that the florally soft vintage look is not really my thing. Don't get me wrong, it's one of those styles that I love and appreciate on everyone else. I just don't usually go for it myself. I do make the occasional allowances, but it's not my MO.

So for some reason, when I began thinking about what I would make for Vintage May, I became fixated on Keith Haring.

Keith was a New York street artist in the 80's. He was kind of the first street artist to make that crossover into a household name, long before Banksy and Shepard Fairey. 

He just made the simplest of line drawings. But they were so recognizable and iconic that they grew into their own language. You've probably seen his radiant baby or dog symbols before. He was making these big social and political statements with street vandalism, but leaving it up to the people to decide what his symbols were saying. Unless it was one of those times he was actually spelling out the message for them.

If you are around my age, you probably remember his illustrations appearing on Sesame Street. I think that's where the positive nostalgia I have with him comes from. It's totally amazing to me how he went from criminal street vandal to this huge pop artist that was even accepted by parts of the high art community. He got his message out, whether it was a giant public sculpture project for a children's hospital or an Absolut Vodka ad. 

I chose this 'batman' icon for Hendrix's shirt just because it makes me happy. I have a positive response to it. That's what art is all about right? And Hendrix always says his favorite flying animal is a bat. I made a freezer paper stencil for the black part and then painted the yellow in by hand. (Which, by the way, was not the easiest way to do things. I should have made a stencil for the yellow first and then done a separate one for the black part. Lesson learned.) 

One of my favorite creative lessons from Keith is that he never planned out ahead of time what he would draw. Even on huge public works, he would just start drawing in his simple bold lines and see where it led him. I know it's not the same on every level, but sometimes my best sewing comes from the times I don't pre-plan, don't over-think things. He was just pure creation in that way. 

I couldn't resist taking these photos by an actual Shepard Fairey mural we have in our neighborhood. His style of street art couldn't be more different than Haring's, but I'd like to think they share the same drive as artists to have their message seen by as many people as possible. It's the new and the old, vintage and modern. 

The shorts are just Oliver & S Sketchbook Shorts that I made slightly more eighties-licious by shortening them a bit. I used a Kaffe Fassett woven stripe that feels to me just like a sheet set or curtains my older brothers might have have had in the 80's. The colors in the stripes are fantastic. 

I'm so glad Kristin and Jess asked me to join along in Vintage May. Otherwise, I might not have had an excuse to make Hendrix this righteous 80's outfit. (Although I am a very strong believer that there are many aspects of 80's fashion that should never be seen again.) 

By the way, I hear that the amazing Dana has something crazy good in store for Vintage May today as well. 

Thanks for reading folks. Remember, crack is wack.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Sew Sweetness Pattern Winners

According to, the three winners who will each get to pick three Sew Sweetness (hey, lucky you, Sara just released an awesome wallet pattern this week!) patterns are:

#51 Katie

"I love the Aeroplane bag. Perfect size for this traveling nurse to carry all her stuff, since there never is a locker. Besides, it is Nurse's Week, what better thing to win?"

#94 Falafel and the Bee who said:
"I LOVE that aeroplane bag, but the Dot dot Dash Dash bag is pretty cool too!
I would love a good pattern for a sturdy bag. I carry waaaaay too much stuff around, and consequently, my bags do not hold up well.

#34 Kellers who said:

"I love your blog. I'd be so excited to win one of these patterns!"

Congrats! I'll be emailing you today about what patterns you'd like. 

This weekend I'll be binding up this flying geese quilt and finishing a Noodlehead Super Tote. What are your weekend sewing plans?

Monday, May 6, 2013

Sew Sweetness Pattern Giveaway

Hey guys, today I'm over at Mama Says Sew talking all about my fun new Aeroplane Bag. But after you check out my pictures and full pattern review there, come back and leave a comment here for your chance to win any three Sew Sweetness patterns you want! 

I'll pick three (3!!) winners this Friday. You can tall me which pattern in Sara's shop is your favorite, or just tell me why you need to make a new bag. Don't forget to include your email. Good luck!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

More KCW: The Dire Wolf Tank

This was my bit of nerd sewing from last week. Although, it turned out to be some really cool nerd sewing. The dire wolf was an actual prehistoric very large wolf that is now extinct. But it's popular around our house lately because of Game of Thrones. Why wouldn't huge-ass light colored wolves that protect the House Stark be an integral part of my KCW?

I must credit the artist Nora Aoyagi for the original image I traced the wolf from for my freezer paper stencil. (Also, I watched the Project Runway finale last week while making this, and the whole wolf thing with this color scheme was definitely a little Michelle inspired. Probably should have sharpied some giant circles all over Elsie for the photo shoot.)

The tank itself was made from an old shirt of mine and a pattern I made from one of Elsie's shirts. I had made a simple pocket tank from the same pattern earlier in the week, but this time I added a flutter sleeve. I rarely do things that so closely resemble ruffles, but... I sure do love this. I see more flutter sleeves in my future. Here's a good tutorial for making them, but for this knit tee I kept edges the raw.

The shorts were another super quick project from my productive week. They were made from thrifted gingham pants with Cailamade's summer shorts pattern. Which is free! And happens to be Elsie's size exactly. 

The great thing about this tank is that somehow that weird color goes with every single bottom I made her last week (5 of them.) Well, actually that's not the great thing, but it's third on the list of great things.  This is just a quick Lazy Days skirt with added Echino patch pockets on the sides. Elsie loves the pockets. Lightning McQueen was getting parked in them all day.

The pink fabric is Aboriginal dot by Kaffe Fassett. I sure to love his dots, stripes, and shots. I picked up some of each at the recent International Quilt Festival downtown and I was excited to use a little already. Pink and ruffles in the same outfit!? And cars and a wolf... I have no idea how, but it's working for me. 

In a very strange twist of marketing, this photo shoot was apparently brought to you by both Pixar and HBO.