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I'm a big fan of Tilly and the Buttons, and last week she featured the website Backstitch - a British company specializing in fabric and patterns. (In honor of relaunching their website, they're currently hosting a contest to win 20% off all orders for a year, so that's a great incentive to go check them out!) While browsing, I found a neat apron pattern - I've been looking for one to make for myself, but I wanted something cute and unique, and The Cupcake Apron by Jamie Christina fit the bill! My order just arrived yesterday (I certainly love getting Royal Mail packages just as much as plain old USPS ; ) and I can't wait to try them out after the holidays are over and I have some relaxed sewing time for myself and the kids. You can check out links to all these clothing patterns and others I'm crushing over on my "Pattern Appeal" boards!
Here's my weekly contribution to Pile O' Fabric's Stash Share link up:
(l-r) Metro Living by Robert Kaufman, unknown, Central Park by Kate Spain, Remembered by Carina Garner, Outfoxed by Lizzy House ... couldn't find any of these currently for sale to link - my stash finally is showing some age!
My Love Hate Relationship...
... with the mailman! If you know me, you know I loathe waiting in line at the Post Office, but there is one aspect of the service I love - when they deliver me packages like this one full of wonderfulness from Westwood Acres! All these great new fabrics just arrived (check out that Scrumptious mini bias stripe - perfect binding), plus a Thimble Blossoms pattern to try, which should be a perfect use for the stack of Liberty Lifestyle I've had lingering in my stash. Can you tell I'm vicariously living out my dream of being at the International Quilt Market in Houston this week? Having a few new goodies delivered while I peruse Fat Quarter Shop's busy feed from the market sort of makes it feel like I was there (and went on a mini-spree ; ) heehee. So far I'm most looking forward to Tula Pink's Fox Fields and Botanics by Carolyn Friedlander - what new lines are you excited to work with soon?
Mrs. Santa Is Busy!
Look what arrived! My gorgeous hand dyed wool from Ruby Mountain Dye Works. I am over-the-moon about the color. It's the perfect vibrant fuschia for my little girls who love pink : ) I can't wait to get started on the doll coats I'm making with this fabric (using the pictured McCall's pattern M5775), but I have to make some muslins first since I'm using a pattern for an 18" doll and having to tailor it for 14" Waldorf dolls. With any luck the muslins will fit well enough to use them as the coat lining and I'll have one extra step to skip.
Also on my agenda this weekend is finishing the S'more Love quilt I started. I had hoped to be ready to quilt it by now, but I must have been tired this week because both nights I attempted to chip away at it I ended up seam ripping instead. Arg! Once the backing fabric is pieced, though, I'll be ready to roll. When it comes to the last step - binding - I typically do it by machine, but for those of you who do, I'm sure you know it's a bit tricky using the sandwich/pin/sew once method. This time I'm going to try something a little different that I came across: this machine binding tutorial from Wasn't Quilt in a Day. It looks like it'll solve that pesky catching-the-back-and-the-front-tight-to-the-edge problem perfectly! Thanks for the great instructions, Ashley!
Feeling a bit anxious now that I checked my calendar and saw how busy my weekends are between now and Christmas... better get back to work! How about you? What's on your sewing agenda this weekend?
To Knit or Not to Knit?
Fresh off of a trip out for yarn... so I can ask my mom to knit doll sweaters using this cute pattern I bought from Turtlekeeper Designs. The pattern seems like it would be very easy to follow for anyone who can knit. Way back when I used to know how - I even knit mittens for an old boyfriend once, but that was in high school (ah! more than half my lifetime ago... yep, it's been a while). This winter I'm going to attempt a scarf for my reentry into the skill, but in the meantime, I'm leaving the "tricky" things - like sleeves - up to my much more knitting-adept mother : )
Do any of you have a link to a great tutorial or website that I could use to brush up on my knitting? Suggest away! I need some instruction that's easy and not at all intimidating to get my feet wet again!
Check out this week's Pile O' Fabric Stash Share! Wisteria was the tricky one for me. I have sooo many blues and a fair amount of purple, but it took some digging to find just this one that walked the wisteria line. Enjoy!
(l-r): Shuffle by Riley Blake, Quilter's Candy Basics by Connecting Threads, Sketch by Timeless Treasures, unknown
The Clock Is Ticking...
I can't believe there are only 9 more weekends until Christmas! Fortunately, this past one was put to good use and I had some adorable inspiration with me while I worked in my studio, which you can oggle down below : ) Here's a taste of my weekend:
Used the new Jelly Roll Jam shortcut pattern from Fat Quarter Shop and pieced this "camping quilt" from S'more Love by Eric & Julie Comstock. The pattern goes together very quickly. I'm going to add some wider strips of the line's signature fabric at the top and bottom to lengthen it to a throw quilt that's for my parents to use in their new RV.
Finished my Holiday Sparkle Advent Calendar by Nina Seven - this will be so cute to fill with little notes and gifts come December! I ended up raw edge appliqueing the pockets on so it looks slightly different than the mock up I saw at the Pine Tree Quilt Guild show in July, but it went together faster.
And I made the two tutus below for the Oh Juniper dolls my daughters are getting for Christmas from Santa. My friend and fellow milspouse, Crystal Clark, makes these gorgeous Waldorf inspired dolls - I am so excited for my girls to finally have some of her creations! Plus, they were cheery company while I worked... though they've been hidden back out of sight for the near future!
This "Mrs. Santa" still has coats, bathrobes, a clothing rack and quilts to make for the new babies, but I cheated over the weekend and ordered a few extra outfits from Molly's Playground instead of adding those to my seemingly endless "to make" list ; ) I'll post pics of the dolls' completed wardrobes and clothing storage once it's all complete.
So how about you? What are you busy getting done in time for the holidays? Have you managed to pace yourself for months or are you in a sprint to the finish line like I am?
Hopefully everyone had an enjoyable holiday weekend : ) Unfortunately, mine was a tad disappointing and less productive than I had hoped for. My parents were in town visiting, and I was looking forward to attending a quilting class with my mom until, as Murphy's Law would have it, the stomach bug that my hubby and kids had succumbed to a week earlier finally caught up to me! (Caught up, overtook, and then kicked me while I was down is more like it ; ) On the plus side, having extra hands around meant I could get some rest, but my anticipated post today showcasing what I would have learned went right out the window!
The class we were to attend was taught by Jo Diggs - if you haven't heard her lecture before, she's a very interesting speaker. Earlier last week she talked to our quilt guild about color, including a trunk show of her work spanning the last five decades, much of which is subtle and textured (the picture to the right is a great example of her muted landscapes; much of her recent work is small, framed miniatures, but this piece is a full size quilt). She started out in clothing design, but is more recently known for her hand embroidered landscapes, and the class was to be on her technique for such. I'm really glad I got to hear her speak, but sorry that I missed the chance to learn more about her embroidery style. She lives right here in Portland, Maine, though, so maybe I'll get the chance to take another class with her someday in the future!
And here's my weekly Pile O' Fabric Stash Share. One of my favorite things about this share is that I can "use" my map fabric for something finally... but without actually using it up ; ) I think it's going to be in my stash for a long while before I dare part with it!
(l-r) unknown, Lottie Da by Heather Bailey, Center City by Jay McCarroll, unknown, Ashbury Heights by Doohikey Designs, unknown, Lovely by Sandy Gervais
Sewing Machine Review
Sew Mama Sew has asked for readers to review their sewing machines for their Sewing Machine Master List (a great resource if you're shopping for a new machine), so here's my two cents about my much loved Janome!
What brand and model do you have?
How long have you had it?
Just celebrated our two year anniversary together!
How much does that machine cost (approximately)?
$299 - I purchased mine through Mr Vac & Mrs Sew because they had the best price at the time. (I also purchased my Arrow Olivia sewing table in pistachio - which I adore - and acrylic insert from them - great customer service!)
What types of things do you sew (i.e. quilting, clothing, handbags, home dec projects, etc.)?
Quilts, clothing, home decor
How much do you sew? How much wear and tear does the machine get?
Not enough! Between moves (i.e. the machine packed up not in use) and life getting in the way, I think I'd say the machine has averaged *gulp* an hour a week or so since I bought it? I need to improve that!
Do you like/love/hate your machine? Are you ambivalent? Passionate? Does she have a name?
Love my machine. I grew up using my mom's Singer, and later her fancy Husqvarna and Bernina, but I really prefer my middle-of-the-road Janome to those.
What features does your machine have that work well for you?
A nice range of extra stitches - not too many, but plenty for what I do; easy to read/use digital display for stitches; automatic needle threader (I am just this past year as my reading prescription has gotten a tad stronger realizing how handy this feature is - wouldn't have shopped for it, but so glad I have it!); easy to change feet; and my personal favorite feature: locked needle down position.
Is there anything that drives you nuts about your machine?
Finicky about thread - my machine hates 100% cotton thread and will jam and break frequently when I use it.
Would you recommend the machine to others? Why?
Yes, definitely. Affordable, easy to learn, and some modest "extras."
What factors do you think are important to consider when looking for a new machine?
Define what features you must have and find a machine that has them - it's worth paying a little more for features that will make sewing easier or more enjoyable for you (likewise, it's silly to buy a machine with a million features you won't use). And in that vein, price - if you're just starting out (like me!) then you want something that will last and let you grow into it a bit, but that you don't have to take out a loan for. There are many great machines at very reasonable prices, and plenty available second-hand for a bargain.
Do you have a dream machine?
Sewing machine? No. Long arm machine someday in the distant future? Oh heck yes! lol
Bonus: Do you have a great story to share about your machine? We want to hear it!
My story will probably get me in a lot of trouble if my mom ever reads it ; ) When I mentioned I was looking at buying a sewing machine, my mom instead promised to send me one of her sewing machines (an old Husqvarna Viking) that was sitting unused. A week later a brand new Janome arrived at my door. Confused, I called her and she explained that she and my dad figured why give me one that was so old and finicky (and still worth $500 resale - something she hadn't realized initially ; ) when I could just have a nice new one that wouldn't need as much servicing. I was thrilled for a new machine, but disappointed that it was a much more basic model than the ones I'd been looking at, and specifically that it had no needle down feature, which I knew I would use a lot. Not wanting to get blamed for looking a gift horse in the mouth, I quietly resold it and used their investment toward the next step up (and I don't think they ever noticed). Now that I've started appliqueing more frequently, I am so so glad I did - makes all the sharp corners that much faster to navigate!
So Hard to Decide!
I decluttered my sewing studio this weekend... well, mostly I cleaned out all my old scrapbooking supplies (thank you, Ebay!) to make room for more fabric ; ) And of course every time I picked up something I hadn't touched in years - dozens of rubber stamps, gorgeous die cut papers, adorable embellishments - I thought of the *perfect* project I could just... who am I kidding? I could just not have enough time to make like I haven't all these years! Hopefully everything will make its new owners very happy and having fewer extras around will allow me to be more focused on my main goal: quilting. I've been reading Grow Your Handmade Business by Kari Chapin, and not only gleaning a lot of great tips and direction for getting my business more truly underway, but also reminding myself daily that I need to focus, focus, and focus some more on what I want to and should be doing that fits my business goals and not what I maybe-someday-if-I-just-had-a-little-more-free-time-and-an-au-pair-and-three-extra-hands. So out with the old and in with the new!
My other little task this weekend was picking my five fat quarters for a Brown Bag Swap with my quilt guild pals since I have to turn it in tomorrow. I have tons of fat quarters, but do you think I could pick five? Nope. Sure I could make neat little sets, but some of every one I tried had been previously designated in my mind for one idea or another, so instead, I hit up Sew Portland this morning to grab a set that could be designated specifically for the swap. The store has sort of a small mishmash as far as fabric goes; they have a nice but narrow selection of everything. They're the closest store to me, though, and since it was bad enough I was going out to buy more fabric when I really shouldn't have, I at least figured I'd try to save on gas! In the end, I picked six instead of five because I loved them all together and couldn't pick which one to skip. I'll be getting it back as a project made for me by some other randomly chosen guild member, so unfortunately I have no idea what they'll be used for exactly, and that makes it so much harder to decide. Please, help me choose! Which one would you drop from the set above?? Leave me a comment and let me know : )
Lastly, here's my weekly Pile O' Fabric Stash Share. I'm enjoying setting up these sets each week because thanks to Alyssa, I'm now building a nice little library of color palettes to browse when I need inspiration!
(l-r) unknown, unknown, Sketch by Timeless Treasures, Fresh by Deb Strain, Living Elements Collection by Art Gallery Fabrics, Glimma by Lotta Jansden