Tuesday, September 29, 2015

little state love | a quilt for Jess & Chad

Back to blogging again... I just can't seem to stay consistent here! Honestly, I just prefer to spend my time at my sewing machine rather than at the computer, but I do like to keep track of all my quilts here so I'll continue on regardless of how sporadic my posts are. So, the quilt! I made this one for friends of ours, Jess and Chad, who just got married earlier this month. Jess used to be one of the lead photographers for Blueflash but this season was her last because she's living back in Michigan, her home state, now. If it weren't for Chad anchoring here there I would venture to say that Jess would still be living in Little Rhody, in Newport, her home away from home, so I made them a Rhode Island quilt. I have to say that it didn't come out exactly as I planned, but I still really like it. I like it so much that I think I'll make another one, and I hardly ever do that. I drew out a map of RI on grid paper to get the shape right and then I determined how many squares or "pixels" I would need for the land and water. (And just in case this is confusing any non-locals, no, Rhode Island is not actually an island!) I decided to use shades of gray for the land and shades of blue for the water, and after two separate trips to Joann and two orders from Fat Quarter Shop I still didn't really have the exact colors I wanted, but I pressed onward anyway. I was running out of time and didn't want to keep spending money on solids I didn't want and probably wouldn't use later. Next time I'll make sure the land and water have more value contrast so they don't blend together so much. I tried to make them more distinct with the quilting, but you can't really see it in the photos. The water has waves quilted in each strip, and the shape of Rhode Island is quilted with what turned out to be concentric rectangles, kind of... I outlined the shape and then continued to echo it until I reached the approximate center. There are over thirty islands that are part of Rhode Island, and I added the most important ones - Aquidneck Island, where Jess lived when she was a Rhode Island resident, Conanicut Island, where one of her favorite spots (Beavertail) is, and Block Island, where she and Chad got engaged. They got the concentric rectangle/square quilting treatment, too.  
Since I wasn't absolutely thrilled with how the front came out and I wasn't even sure it was recognizable as Rhode Island (in fact, I don't think it is. I think it only looks like Rhode Island if you know what Rhode Island looks like and if I point out that it is supposed to look like Rhode Island. Alas.), I wanted to make sure that Jess liked the back for sure. That way if she thought the front was hideous and didn't make any sense then they could just turn it over and forget it exists and use the back exclusively. So I picked out four or five prints that I liked that would coordinate with the front in some way and sent them to Jess, telling her I was working on a project and wanted to know her favorite of the bunch. As I sent the email I wondered if she suspected what I was making... she had asked once, half joking, I think, if I would make her and Chad a quilt and I said no, explaining how I don't make large quilts because my attention span is too short and I enjoy smaller projects better. Then, tragically, Jess's sister passed away just before she was to return to Rhode Island to shoot weddings for the 2015 season. It was then that I decided I had to make her one. Anyway, out of the handful of options I sent to Jess, she picked this print by Katarina Roccella from her Skopelos line, and I think it's the perfect complement to the front. I love the bright floral against the blue and white stripes. I think that they're very Newport - the stripes give it a nautical feel and the flowers add some drama and glam, much like the City by the Sea.

I have to share a little mishap I had when quilting, just because I don't want to forget - I was almost finished quilting and only had some interior sections to complete so I decided I was going to attach the binding and then finish quilting. I was tired of quilting and needed a break, and I thought binding would make me feel closer to the finish line, so I used my clover clips to attach the binding to the edges. Then I realized I would have to change my thread (I was using Sulky to quilt and wanted to switch back to my usual Gutterman for the binding), so I decided to just go ahead and finish the quilting. About an hour went by and I was almost done, just had maybe twelve to eighteen inches left of quilting when I realized that it felt kind of bulky around the needle. I lifted up the quilt to check underneath it and was horrified to realize that I had quilted the loose binding tails to the back in several places! Ughhhhh! I was so mad at myself. I could not believe that I had to pick out so much quilting when I was so close to finishing. I spent the next thirty minutes sitting on the floor with the quilt and my stitch ripper, undoing most of what I had spent the past hour doing! All the while sighing and shaking my head. Thankfully, it was smooth sailing (ha! Unintentional Newport pun!) from then on, and I finished quilting and binding without any more issues. I won't be prematurely attaching binding with clover clips to my quilts anymore, I can tell you that.

Anyway, we took these photos in Newport when we were there for a shoot just before Matt left for the wedding. Ezra, Finn, and I like to tag along sometimes, if we can find a playground nearby and especially if we can score dinner or lunch somewhere close. This time we went with Matt to shoot a couple properties (he does commercial work, too, not just weddings) in Portsmouth, ate the best burgers and dogs in Rhode Island at Mission (if you're on the island, go! It's a must), and then took a few quick shots at Perrotti Park on America's Cup Ave.

Matt flew to Michigan to shoot the wedding over Labor Day weekend and since I couldn't attend I sent the quilt along in his backpack which, other than his gear case, was his only piece of luggage. I insisted he bring it so he could hand deliver it and we weren't sure it would fit but he made it work. I'm pretty sure he wore the same thing all weekend! A few days after the wedding Jess sent me a picture of her and Chad snuggled up under their new quilt! It's always nice to see my quilts in use, and I'm glad it made it safely from Rhode Island to their new home in Michigan. Cheers, Jess and Chad! We miss you here in Little Rhody.

Monday, September 28, 2015

+bound+ staple dress and a giveaway! | 30 Days of Sewing with Art Gallery Fabrics

Hello and welcome to any new readers that have come over from Art Gallery Fabrics! As you probably know by now, September is National Sewing Month and when Art Gallery asked me to create something to help them celebrate I said sure! I decided to step outside of my comfort zone in the spirit of learning new ways to sew. I've made a couple garments in the past but they've always been out of quilting cotton and once out of a home dec weight fabric, so I selected a knit fabric and a pattern that I've been wanting to make for myself for a while, the Staple Dress by April Rhodes. The fabric is coincidentally by April Rhodes, too - the print is called painting morale and it's from her new collection for Art Gallery called +bound+. I've loved everything April has designed since her first collection, Arizona, and this collection is just as beautiful. I love the muted colors and organic, nature inspired designs.

After reading through the pattern I decided to enlist someone to hold my hand throughout the garment making process. With my limited experience with sewing clothing I didn't want to ruin this beautiful fabric! So I got in touch with my friend and sewing teacher Lorraine, and she agreed to help me one night a few weeks ago. I was familiar with Art Gallery quilting cottons already and I love them - they feel soft and luxurious compared to lots of other quilting cottons, and I fell in love with this knit, too. I cut and sewed up the whole thing in one night, albeit a very late night, with Lorraine's help along the way ;) The dress is so comfortable and easy to wear, and I think it's a great transition piece as we head into fall here in New England. I've worn it with sandals, these flats, and I plan to wear it with tall brown boots, too!


The winner is instagram usedr @tinkerellen!

I love learning new methods of sewing, techniques, and how to use different materials and tools and this project helped educate me in many ways. I sewed with knit fabric to make a garment for the first time, and I used elastic thread to create the shirring at the waist which was really fun! For a chance to win some Art Gallery knit fabric of your own, tell me your what you'd like to learn about sewing! Let me know in the comments section (here or on my instagram post about this giveaway) to enter to win 3 yards of Katarina Roccella's Morse Dot Blue in knit from her Imprints collection so you can make your own Staple Dress, courtesy of Art Gallery Fabrics.  Make sure you check out the Art Gallery Fabrics app (available for android and IOS) for ideas on what to make, too! Giveaway ends Thursday, October 1st at midnight; a winner will be selected randomly and announced here and on instagram on Friday morning. Anonymous comments will be disregarded so please make sure you include your email so I can contact you. The winner must respond within three days or an alternate will be chosen. Open to US residents.

This blog post is sponsored by Art Gallery Fabrics; all opinions are my own. Thanks also to Lorraine for sharing her time and knowledge of sewing, and to my husband Matt for taking these pictures!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

my #newsstand tote

Pattern testing is one of my new favorite things. Talented pattern designers often head to instagram to find people willing to test out new patterns and I've been volunteering often lately. It's fun to choose fabrics for a project I wouldn't otherwise get to make, and this bag is my favorite of them all! It's the Newsstand Tote by Felice Regina and it features elasticized side pockets and an interior slip pocket, but you could easily customize it. I think if I made another I would add a key fob, maybe a zippered pocket in the lining, and use leather handles. This bag is going to be a workhorse for me so I think these pretty yellow handles are going to take a beating.

The construction of the bag was straightforward and simple. Felice writes great patterns and this one is pretty easy to follow, even for a novice bag maker. I've made a bunch of bags before but I don't often use very advanced techniques so sometimes I'm challenged by things like gussets or zipper installation, but this pattern was smooth sailing for me!

I love the exterior side pockets. They're a must for me on any bag because I like being able to carry the boys' water bottles in my bag without the risk of them spilling inside. It makes it easy for them to grab them, too. Then they're not fishing around in my bag and inadvertently finding the snacks I'm trying to save for later.

I used an Alison Glass Handcrafted print (plus in teal) for the main exterior, and Cotton + Steel for the pockets (from August), handles (one of the basics), and binding (from Mesa). The lining is a fun Alexander Henry print that I'm obsessed with lately. I've used it for three linings and put some of it in a quilt!

It's a good size for toting around anything I need for an outing with the boys - my wallet, keys, and phone, of course, along with diapers and wipes, a change of clothes for Finn, some snacks, Finn's epi pens, and lots of other purse detritus. I made a couple other pouches to corral my belongings - that pouch with the blue zip on top there is a Noodlehead open wide pouch and it holds a lip balm, diaper cream, hand sanitizer, and an Ava Anderson boo boo stick. There's a kitty wristlet in there, too, and I use it to hold my phone and keys if I'm leaving the diaper bag somewhere like at my parents' house or Matt's parents' house when they're watching the boys. Now I just need to make myself a wallet to replace my old and threadbare Vera Bradley one!

Be sure to check out all the other bags Felice's pattern testers made... I love the fabrics on them all! And as always, I have to thank Matt for the photos! He always says yes when I ask him to take some pictures for me, even when he has a backlog of weddings to edit and more scheduled for the coming weekend. Also, if I could wear jeans and a gray t shirt every day it would be great.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Home is... | a mini quilt for the Wassons

I've had a backlog of projects to share for a while now, and I figured it's time to dust the ol' blog off! I've been pro-craft-inating (perhaps you're familiar with this - similar to procrastinating but occurs when one is actively doing crafts - like fabric covered buttons to make into magnets and needleminders and zip pouches and appliqued kitty wristlets and cloth napkins and a tote bag and a mug rug and fabric baskets and lavender sachets - to avoid doing other crafts) because I have two large-ish quilts to complete but I'm stuck on both of them. One needs to be finished in a couple weeks (it's a wedding gift) and the other is sort of past due (it's for a baby who has already been born!). I've been agonizing over the back of the wedding quilt because I just could not motivate myself to piece it (it was really a double-sided quilt which I regret) and yesterday I gave myself permission to abandon my plans for the back and I bought yardage of this pretty Katarina Roccella print from Llama Fabrics. Problem solved! And I know Chio will have it shipped tomorrow or the day after so I'll be able to get to work again really soon. Now I'm excited about it again and can't wait to finish it. In the meantime I'll continue piecing the baby quilt. It's taking me a while because it's all equilateral triangles and there are no shortcuts I can take. The end result should be really pretty though so I'm looking forward to the finish! I also have a couple other quilts in the works as well as some dresses and bags... I don't usually have this many works in progress but it's time I cut down the list a bit!

Anyway, while I work on these various projects I wanted to share some older ones that never made it to the blog. This little quilt was the first mini quilt that I made. It was for friends who bought a home and then shortly thereafter celebrated their tenth anniversary with a vow renewal in their new backyard. I used fabrics my friend had picked out to make a quilt of her own years ago, but I ended up with the fabrics because she decided against making it at the time. Long story, I know, and you can read more about it here, if you're interested. I don't think the quilt is so lopsided in real life, but I haven't seen it since I gave it to her so I don't remember - maybe it is! I hope not! I really love the embroidery though, and want to add more special details to quilts in the future. Stay tuned for a couple more projects on the blog this week!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

put a bow on it | a quilt for Norah

I made another quilt from start to finish in less than a week, immediately after giving the pinwheel quilt to Sage. I told Matt that I feel like a machine lately, and I don't know if that's a good thing or not. On one hand, I like being productive and prolific, but on the other hand I've found that I'm working so quickly lately that some of the enjoyment is lost. I've been trying to meet self-imposed deadlines (baby's birthdays, mostly) but I haven't been getting any quilts done "on time" anyway. I think it's time to slow down a bit, so I can concentrate on my work and the process rather than the end result. Anyway, this quilt is for yet another baby, the daughter of our friends John and Rachel. I made a quilt for their first child, Elliott, who was born just a couple months after Finn, and they loved it and appreciated it so much that I started planning one for their second child pretty much the moment I found out Rachel was pregnant. Originally I planned on making a giant saw tooth star block, but I've wanted to make a bow quilt since I saw this one from Piece at Last and to be honest, I felt like I needed to make something quick after the pinwheel quilt. Plus I have a few other designs in process and in my mind that I need to get working on, so this simple design was a great fit for this project. The original design can be found in The It's Okay If You Sit On My Quilt Book, but I just sketched out the bow and figured out how many squares and half square triangles I needed. I'm curious, what are your thoughts on making a quilt like that? I copied the design of another quilter though I didn't buy her book. I'm not profiting off of this quilt in any way though, so I think it's okay. Just wondering how others feel about this issue. It tends to come up a lot in conversations about handmade goods. 
Back to the quilt! I've had the fabric picked out for this quilt ever since I knew Rachel was having a girl. Rachel told me the baby's room would probably be decorated in coral and gold tones, and I know that Rachel appreciates vintage grandma style so I selected another of my quilter's quarters bundles by Denyse Schmidt for Joann. I was lucky to have been given one by my mom (she's nice like that) and I purchased a second one when I found it at Joann unwrapped and therefore discounted! And I confess to purchasing a third bundle on etsy as I was working on this quilt because I realized how much I really like these fabrics, though they aren't my usual style, and I didn't want to be without them. I didn't intend on making a scrappy background, but I decided against using solid white because I had some low volume fat quarters that coordinated with the Denyse Schmidt prints nicely and I'm trying to sew my stash this year. After the bow and background were pieced I decided to add a patchwork border because the quilt was going to finish on the small side, only 35" square, so I dug into my stash to find some more low volume prints. I don't have that many so there are a bunch of repeats and I think they kind of distract from the bow but I still like the way the quilt came out. The little animal faces print redeems the border for me, though you can't see them in the photos, I don't think. For the back I used a large cut of a sweet and subtle polka dot and ladybug print along with another DS print, and the binding is scrappy ladybug and DS, too. I had a lot of fun quilting this one. I attempted some more free motion and tried my hand at a large orange peel design. I did three rows freehand and then realized I did one section facing the wrong direction which was really annoying, but I tend to just go with my mistakes and wasn't going to fix it. Then my mom came over and I pointed it out and she said two things - 1. I should mark the quilting lines so the orange peels look better (subtext: your quilting looks terrible. Thanks, Mom! ), and 2. Did I want her to rip out the stitches that were going the wrong way? I sighed and then accepted her offer, and I did mark the rest of my lines and the quilting started looking much better. In fact, the original row of quilting looks terrible in comparison to the rest. Sorry, Norah! Mother does know best ;)
I tried to think of somewhere vintage-y to take pictures and I thought of this old church near our house, so the next time we went out I asked Matt to bring his camera and we stopped on the way home from Lowes one day last week. The front door is really pretty and the side of the building has old fashioned white wooden siding with stained glass windows, but as you can see, he only took two pictures because Ezra was yelling from inside the car (which was less than ten feet away from where I was standing on the steps) that he wanted to get out, again. Needless to say, we wrapped up the shoot pretty quickly. Next time I think I'll pick a quilt photo shoot location that's not on a main road or near water so we don't have to worry about the boys :) 

I'm going to quote a fellow quilter, Astrid, again today - "The problem with making stuff for other people is that one day you actually have to say goodbye to these things you've poured a whole lot of yourself into. Things you've fallen a bit in love with, in the process. But that's the point, right? To pour out, over and over, in order to make space for new inspiration. To share the bits of ourselves that perhaps others are in need of. And if it doesn't hurt a bit to give it up, maybe there wasn't enough of us in it." Norah, I hope this quilt keeps you warm and brings you comfort! My love and prayers for you are stitched right into it. 
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