Owl blankey

A few months ago, I stumbled on fatquartershop.com‘s 24 hour flash sale. For good or bad, I am now in the habit of checking it daily. Last month, I caught Riley Blake’s Happy Harvest and thought it would make a great quilt for my son.

Happy Harvest

 

Never mind the fact that I had never made a quilt before. I had been wanting to try something with precuts, so I grabbed a couple Rolie Polies (2.5″ precut strips) along with some yardage for the backing, binding, and borders. Looking back at my order history, I’m pretty impressed with myself – I placed the order on August 5th and finished the quilt today, September 7th. Factoring in shipping time, I did a fairly labor-intensive project from start to finish in under a month!

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I’m really pleased with how it turned out. Instead of working from a pattern, I came up with an idea and ran with it. The solid strips have a wood grain texture, so I thought I could place them vertically to feel like trees against the horizontally striped background.

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I ended up buying another yard off of Etsy (for significantly more than I paid on FQS) for the backing. I knew it wouldn’t be enough, but I had strips leftover so I could piece together a big enough panel. I went more random for this area, cutting down my scraps to different lengths and worrying less about like colors and patterns touching each other.

Then there was the part I was most worried about – the actual quilting. This is how I get hung up on projects: if something goes well at first, I’m nervous to continue in case I should wreck what I’ve done so far. I know people will send out their pieced panels to have professional quilters do the hard part…what makes me think I can maneuver all this fabric through my non-industrial machine? In the end, I was surprised at how fast it all went. I basted with safety pins after polling the internet on the benefits of that versus adhesive spray. My idea for a quilting pattern was part of what had me motivated to get this completed. Instead of just a bunch of vertical lines or Xes, I quilted it in a big N for Noah (which unfortunately is hard to see in photos). Somehow I managed to do all of the quilting yesterday and finished up the binding today.

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I think he likes it alright. Oh, and the title of the post? When the fabric was delivered, I showed him and pointed out the owl patterns. He wandered off like he couldn’t care less, but later he started talking about his owl blankey. Whenever he caught a glimpse of my work in progress, he would call it out again, reminding me that he knew it was his.

Of course, now I have another collection on hand for a quilt for his big sister. I didn’t have this one done for a full hour before she was asking why I hadn’t started on hers yet. Guess I had better get to work!

 

Twin turtles

The day before my little one’s second birthday, a work friend of mine had twins! I don’t know if it was just because there would be two babies, but I was super excited and kept thinking up fun things I could make for them. In the end, I (and my gift for procrastination) held myself back to just stuffed turtles; we’re not that close, and it would have been weird if I showed up with armloads of presents for her offspring.

I’ve made turtles for both of my kids from this pattern courtesy of Ashley at Make It & Love It. Each one I make turns out progressively less lopsided as I gain more experience sewing curves. The second one I made also taught me to sew the smallest shapes (head and tail) before I cut them out – much easier to avoid bunching up under the needle. These are great for using up leftover scraps or smaller remnants that jump in my basket of their own accord when JoAnn’s has 50% off (what, just me?).

Greta's turtle - attempt 1
Greta’s turtle – attempt 1

I used minky/cuddle fabrics for the bodies on the newest toys, but did (mostly) quilting cotton for my first two. You could fuse a woven interfacing to any pieces with stretch before you start sewing, but I like to play it fast and loose and just dealt with any stretchiness as I went.

Noah's turtle - attempt 2
Noah’s turtle – attempt 2

The hallmark of a successful project – the recipient didn’t realize they were handmade until I slipped it into the conversation. Overall, a pretty quick sew (with a little practice) and very satisfying results!

Attempts 3 & 4
Attempts 3 & 4

Canvas menagerie

My sweet little boy turns two in less than a month. It’s so cliche to say it, but time has flown by. I had an animal-themed vision for his room, complete with several DIY projects, some that were finished before he was born and some that still exist only in my head (future blog fodder, I suppose). One successful project was art for the walls, easy enough for my then 2.5 year old daughter to help with.

The supplies were simple: 10″x10″ canvases from Michael’s or JoAnn Fabrics, fabric scraps in various colors, and Mod Podge, plus a glue stick and a sponge brush. I searched Google Images for the animals I envisioned (turtle, whale and elephant) plus “silhouette.”

Elephant clips

Once I found shapes I liked, I printed them with reduced opacity to avoid killing my black ink cartridge. Then I used the glue stick to glue the papers to the back of my fabrics and cut around the outlines (not with my nice fabric scissors!). Here’s a caveat: when I did Noah’s art, I had a cheap Roseart glue stick. After I cut out the whale, I realized I should really load the glue on because when it stuck better, it was easier to cut a smooth line. Somehow, even with a lot of glue, the paper still peeled off the fabric easily. I recently made another set of canvases for Greta, but the only glue stick I could find was Elmer’s. I again applied the glue liberally, but this time when I went to peel off the paper, it seemed to pull too much on my fabric, distorting the shape. Eventually I learned to leave the paper on, which worked fine with the next step…assembly!

Here’s where Greta came in. We spread newspaper out on the table and poured Mod Podge out on a paper plate, which we each painted on the middle our canvas. I placed an animal on the prepared surface, eyeballing it to make it centered. I had sized all three pictures to about 7″ wide, but since they were different heights a small distance off center wouldn’t be too noticeable. Then we went to town painting over the whole surface with more Mod Podge. After letting them dry overnight, we had art!

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There are a million different looks you could make with this. I love how they turned out, and Greta loved helping make something for her little brother. Every once in awhile she would ask me to make some for her, so for Easter this year, I left a surprise by her basket:

99wNOjgaXeooBMgC.jpgMy apologies for the poor editing of the pictures on my phone. We have yet to hang these, and I’m thinking I need to make a fourth so they can hang in a 2×2 grid instead of a line. I think a bird would round the group out nicely. The ladybug body was where I really saw distortion from peeling the paper off, so I’m not super happy with that one. The fish, with the paper left on, turned out awesome; the pieces fit together better than I expected.

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Now if only I can make Noah’s cornice boxes before he outgrows the animal theme…

Swoon Laney Hobo Bag

About 3 years ago, I decided to look for a real leather purse instead of sticking with the $14.99 specials found at Kohl’s. I ended up with a black Tignanello bag, and it has served me well, but I thought for spring it would be nice to have something lighter and more fun. Enter Swoon Patterns and the free Laney hobo bag pattern. I had actually searched quite a bit trying to find the bag I was envisioning. I saw this bag early in my search and liked the hobo shape, but I had an idea in my head that didn’t exactly match the options I found. After coming full circle through the internet (exaggeration? nah.), I decided to take the Laney pattern as a starting point and modify it.

And then I stopped and thought maybe I should make one bag as written before I go off on a tangent like my wallet. I went back and forth a couple times, ultimately deciding to liberate fabric from my stash for my first go at bag making with a Swoon pattern. One yellow pillowcase found on clearance at Target, a bird print from Valori Wells’ Wrenly collection bought a few years ago on impulse, and a blue/white gingham print later, I have a new purse:

Wheee!
Wheee!

Surprisingly, I started this on Sunday and finished it (late) Monday night – quite possibly the least time I’ve allowed a project to languish in between sewing sessions. It came together so nicely, I’m tempted to make another. I debated putting the yellow on the inside and had to text my design consultant (Alana, I’ve given you a title) for her opinion. I had started assembling the panels when I laid a partial outside piece over a finished lining side.

Examining my options
Examining my options

Uh-oh. My default setting is to pick blue for everything, so seeing this I thought I made the wrong choice in keeping the gingham to the lining. It wasn’t that I didn’t like the yellow, just that the gingham was so cute. I pressed on as I had started though and I’m so glad. One of my favorite things is the blue lining peaking out around the yellow.G6SoMB119fNPNHCS.jpg

Of course, I couldn’t leave the pattern alone completely. I added my tag on the side seam shown above, in addition to a few modifications inside. The pattern calls for a tie closure, but I didn’t think it would suit me. Instead, I added a magnetic snap (too close to the edge, making it hard to top stitch). I also put in two basic slip pockets and a swivel hook for my keys.

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I see something familiar in there

I’m so happy with how this turned out. Also, the free pattern totally got me hooked; I will be much more likely to spring for a paid Swoon pattern in the future knowing how easy this was to follow. Overall, a great first experience with bag making. Now I think I might need to take some of the remaining bird print to make a small pouch to enhance the interior organization…aka to make it so I can carry more lip gloss/pens/hair things without them taking over my bag.

Nanu-nanu.

 

Crafty Construction

I took a break from sewing/crocheting/etc. last weekend to work on an unusual-for-me but related project: a custom cutting table! I’m slowly planning my sewing space in our evolving basement and I can’t wait to have some flat surfaces to stash all my stuff. My dining table (and husband) will thank me when it’s all done 🙂

I took most of my direction from Ashley at Make It & Love It. I wanted to add a little different detail, so instead of buying the legs available at Ikea, I found this option at Home Depot:

 

Imagine those on this (use your imagination with the scale!):

KALLAX Shelving unit IKEA Choose whether you want to hang it on the wall or stand it on the floor.

My sister, whose eye I trust more than my own when it comes to artsy things (hi, Alana!), suffered through a trip to the HD with me pick out paint. I was envisioning a fun color in a darker range so that I could play around with pops of other colors in the space without it feeling too crazy. She convinced me to try something a little more interesting. Two quarts of high gloss, two sample pots, and one can of Polycrylic later, here’s (roughly) what we came up with:

Table layout

I’ll update with the actual color names when the table is finished. Since so little is needed for the legs I opted for a sample pot of the darker shade, and a purple to use as an accent, which only comes in flat. Since I want it to feel all shiny and new, I’ll finish any items in those colors with a clear gloss spray. I still need to get a door to use as the top, which will also be painted white.

This would be finished sooner, but I got distracted from my distraction and sewed my first purse over the last couple days! I love it and will for sure have to post about it soon. Hopefully not too long after that I’ll have the completed table to share.

(I think I need a killer sign-off phrase, as I never know how to end my posts. Think Robin Scherbatsky would mind if I borrowed hers? “May the road ahead be lit with dreams and tomorrows. Which are lit with dreams, also.” Open to suggestions!)