Saturday, May 2, 2015

my #matsuribag

This year I promised myself that I would expand my skills beyond quilt making. I wanted to learn how to install a zipper, do English paper piecing, and comfortably use interfacing in projects. I'd like to make a few garments, too. I've done a few of these things before with my friend, Lorraine, who taught me to sew, but I hadn't done any of them on my own. So recently, after making a few open wide pouches for swaps and some laptop sleeves for friends, I decided to volunteer as a tester for Felice who was working on her Matsuri Bag pattern. I knew it would be a challenge in some ways but I was confident I could do it! The Matsuri bag is a backpack that converts to a crossbody and I had commented that I had been looking for a backpack to use when I'm out with the boys because it's so much easier to have both hands free. I was so excited when Felice emailed me say that I was chosen as a tester that I started picking out fabrics immediately!

I considered a couple Cotton + Steel prints (all the states and scattered), but then I remembered that my mom had given me some of the Midas Kisses (the cat fabric which is out of print and hard to find, but it looks like Pink Castle might have some in white!) along with some of Ellen Baker's half rounds from her Charms collection for Kokka, and I knew they would be perfect for what I had already dubbed the world's cutest backpack. I ordered some of the half round fabric in charcoal to use as the lining and spent way too much time comparing purse hardware on etsy. I ended up choosing an antique brass finish for the hardware and then I found the perfect metal zipper. So perfect, in fact, that I bought five.

Anyway, even though I was comfortable installing a zipper and using interfacing by this point, I was still intimidated by this bag because of all the pieces! However, Felice's instructions were very clear and easy to follow, and she includes helpful diagrams along the way. I did make a few simple modifications, including flipping the side pockets over because I decided I liked my lining fabric better as an exterior contrast fabric, so please note that the gathers would look a little different if I had followed the pattern exactly.

Though I haven't used the bag as a crossbody yet, I can say that I love the look of it!


This bag easily holds everything I need for Finn - his epi pens, a couple diapers and wipes, a couple small snacks, and a change of clothes. I can fit a few other things, too, like a book, some small toys, and another set of clothes if necessary, but the bag does start to lose it's shape if I jam too many things inside, like any bag would. The exterior pockets are the perfect size for the boys' water bottles which is major for me. I love having a dedicated spot for the water bottles in my bag! As you can see here, I added a lined interior pocket (not included in the pattern) so I can easily keep my things separate from the boys' things. I have enough room inside the pocket for my wallet, phone, keys, a pen, and my checkbook. I don't even know why I carry my checkbook other than that it's inside a cute Hello Kitty Liberty fabric wallet that I made and I like to admire it, ha!

I would definitely recommend this pattern to anyone who's looking for a cute and functional backpack! I'm completely in love with mine and want to coordinate all my outfits around it from now on. Head over to Sew Scatterbrained to purchase the pattern (release date is May 2!) and support Felice! And check out the #matsuribag hashtag on instagram to be inspired by all the bags the other testers made... there are some gorgeous fabric combinations there! I'll be happy to answer any questions about the pattern and my personal experience making the Matsuri Bag. Let me know if you make one - I'd love to see it! Oh, and thanks to Matt for taking these photos for me!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

a quilt for Avery Jean by the RI Modern Quilt Guild

I'm excited to share this quilt that the members of the RI Modern Quilt Guild made for our former president, Carole Ann. Carole Ann and her husband were preparing for the arrival of their first baby so of course we had to make her a quilt! I suggested it to our current president, another Tara, and asked if I could take the lead on the project, and once she gave me the go ahead I set about finding a block for our members to make. I settled on these wonky plus blocks and began pulling fabric from my stash to make a few blocks. I was inspired by Riley Blake's cathedral window print from the Fly a Kite line (now out of print) and gathered a bunch of scraps that coordinated. I had a blast creating some colorful pluses against gray and white backgrounds, thinking that most people would have those neutrals in their stashes as I wanted the blocks to be easy for the guild members. I gave all the members of our guild an info sheet with instructions, including some images of the cathedral window print and one of my completed blocks as a color guide. I asked everyone to use shades of white and gray for the background fabric and colors from the cathedral windows print for the plus signs, concentrating on blues, yellows, pinks, and greens. 

Of course, our guild rose to the occasion and created some gorgeous blocks for Carole Ann's quilt! I had a lot of fun arranging the blocks on my design wall and decided to alternate blocks with white and gray backgrounds, randomizing the colors of the plus signs. There were a lot of yellow so I made many attempts at spacing them out and I think I succeeded. My favorite blocks are the two made with Heather Ross's Briar Rose fabric. I just love those sweet bees and strawberries! I can't remember if Leslie or Becky made them...

Anyway, I had enough blocks to piece a strip on the back and we used the one in the corner as a label. Once the top and back were pieced my mom, who's also a guild member, pressed and sandwiched it. I quilted it on either side of the horizontal and vertical seam lines, and then gave it back to my mom to bind, only she decided it needed more quilting (ha, mothers!) and added some to echo some of the plus signs. When it was finished I brought a fabric marker to the next monthly meeting so everyone who contributed blocks could add their names. In addition to the women I referenced above (my mom, Tina, Tara, Leslie, and Becky) some of the ladies who made blocks are Jenn, Charity, Jen, Celine, Rachel, and Mary. Chime in if I missed linking to you, guild friends!

Carole Ann had a sweet baby girl about a month later and I visited soon after to deliver the quilt and a batch of cookies :)  

And here she is, already enjoying the quilt! I'm so happy to have been able to help coordinate the construction of this quilt and hope Avery and her parents will enjoy it for years to come!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

quilt 03 of 2015, for Lee

This quilt is the brother quilt to this one that I made over the summer. My friend Amanda wanted to make a quilt for each of her children. I had taught her how using Amy Smart's amazing beginning quilting series the summer that I was pregnant with Ezra and she was pregnant with her second daughter, Sophie. I made this quilt and Amanda made one for Sophie alongside me. Then she made one for her daughter, Amelie, and when she got pregnant with baby number three she bought fabric to make a quilt for him. She ended up not loving how the fabrics worked together (that's the difficulty of shopping online!) and ordered some others. I would periodically ask her how it was going, and when I learned that she had put it aside I offered to make it for her. By this point she was already pregnant with their fourth child! So I told her I would make quilts for both of them.
The feature fabric is Heather Ross's guitars from Far Far Away III and the rest are low volume prints that Amanda picked out - a couple chevrons and one that looks like a maze, but you can't actually solve it. I know because Ezra tried... mazes are one of his favorite things to do lately. Because so many of the fabrics were light and lacked bold color I decided to use the guitars in a few different places to give the quilt some life. I think it worked! More straight line quilting (I think I have so many projects going on lately that I can't put any creative energy into interesting quilting - I'm just trying to get things checked off my list!), and it's bound in more of the chevron fabric, both colors. 

I was super excited to be able to use my new quilt label, too! I've had the idea for them in my mind for months but needed Matt to design them in photoshop for me and I kept putting it off. I finally pinned him down a couple weeks ago, sent the files off to inked papers, and had the labels in just a little over a week! I definitely recommend using them if you're in need of labels for any kind of sewn items.
So Lee finally has his baby quilt! No matter that he's almost three ;)

Thursday, January 29, 2015

winter woodland | quilt 01 of 2015, for Chase

Here's my first quilt finish of 2015! It feels like a great way to start off the year. This quilt is for a little boy who hasn't been born yet, the baby brother to the little girl who owns this quilt! Jen is expecting her third baby and asked me to make a quilt for him about three months ago and we picked fabrics very quickly. Jen knows just what she wants and also trusts me to choose fabrics and designs that I think will work together, which is a great feeling. She wanted something with woodland animals and a combination of orange, minty green, and gray colors. I seriously loved shopping for this quilt, but then putting fabrics together is always one of my favorite parts of the process :) From top to bottom, the fabrics are orange chevron by Riley Blake, Joel Dewberry's wood grain, elk family by Birch Fabrics, Lizzy House's leaf tails, bear hike in shroom by Birch Fanrics, and Joel Dewberry's herringbone. The feature print running vertically down the length of the quilt is bear hike again, but obviously multicolored. That last print was so hard to find that I had to order it from Australia! Although I just looked for it again and found it easily in the US. Oh well! The pattern I used is a favorite for baby quilts, Bijou Lovely's Color Block quilt. I've made it three times so far and have another one in the queue!

The back is a bunch of fabrics left over from the front of the quilt plus a couple others - squared elements from Art Gallery in carbon and dottie by Cotton + Steel in bandana. I have to say that my favorite print is bear hike, and rightfully so! The quilt was designed around it, after all. I had one little scrap left and made a mug rug out of it. It was sold just before Christmas and will hopefully enjoy a long life underneath steaming mugs of coffee :)

I quilted organic straight lines, starting out very close together somewhere around the center near the bears and gradually getting farther and farther apart as the lines get closer to the edges. The pattern created by the lines reminds me just a bit of tree bark or wood grain which is a nice design element to add to this quilt that I've called "winter woodland." It's bound in more orange chevron with a small strip of Kona coral left over from my Michael Miller challenge quilt. I love scrappy bindings so much! They're my favorite kind of binding. Jen is coming to pick up the quilt this afternoon and is just about ready to welcome her baby boy into the family! He's due in March and I hope this quilt provides just the right welcome for him.

P.S. Special thanks to Matt who took these photos for me after finishing up a shoot in Providence, and to my mom who offered to watch the boys so I could tag along. As a bonus we got lunch at The Grange after! It was the perfect spot for my quilt mini shoot, and as always, the perfect spot to eat lunch.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

a quilt for Liam | elephants and stripes (of course)

This simple baby quilt is the last from my backlog of unblogged quilts! I made it for a friend's son (who happens to have just turned one on Sunday - happy birthday, Liam!) and chose the prints after spying some elephants on one of her baby related pinterest boards :) I had the perfect gray elephant fabric in my stash and then chose lots of blue and gray fabrics to go with it. I didn't follow a patten, just cut large squares and then used a slice and insert technique to make a few of the blocks a little more interesting.
Navy sashing to give all the prints some breathing room...
and green polka dot binding for fun :)
As usual, the back is a large cut (this one is a gray circle/dot print by Denyse Schmidt for Joann) plus leftover fabrics from the front. I quilted it with simple straight lines on either side of all the seams.
Also, wasn't the light just perfect on the day I took these photos? Sometimes I love our living room :) Anyway, thanks for hanging in there with all these quilts! Now brace yourselves, because I have a list of quilts to make as long as my forearm and this time I intend to keep up with them here!
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