Thursday, June 27, 2013

Scrappy Strip Blocks

Pinterest has been such a great source of inspiration for me as a new quilter. I love just plugging in the word "quilts" to see what comes up. Other than my food boards, my quilting board has the most pins! A couple of months ago I pinned this photo from Lynn at The Little Red Hen:

It's her Garden Window Quilt. Isn't it just adorable! And making strip blocks are so EASY! I love that you can whip some together without have to precisely measure each strip. The moment I saw this I knew I wanted to make one so I've been saving scraps from my various projects and whenever I have a nice sized pile I'll piece together a few blocks. So far I'm up to 25. Not sure how big of a quilt I'm going to make yet but I have lots of time to decide that. I tried to get a good photo of the blocks this morning but no matter how hard I tried, my furry little buddy Oliver was determined to get in on the act so I just gave up and let him lay there.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Dabbling into Paper Piecing

There are a variety of quilting techniques that I need to learn about, including appliqué and paper piecing. I decided to tackle paper piecing first. I liked not having to have fabrics cut to exact measurements and being able to visibly follow a line to sew on. What got me into trouble though, is my desire to conserve what little fabric stash I have. Numerous times I thought a scrap of fabric was big enough only to find that it was a smidge too small after I'd sewn it on. I think it's because I'd orient the scrap the wrong way when checking the size, and then it'd be flipped when I was actually sewing it (if that makes any sense at all, you're doing better than me!).

Here was my first block attempt. It's the Circle of Geese pattern that was used in the Craftsy Block of the Month 2012 Sampler.

Since I was using a charm pack for the geese and about a 1/3 yard of the blue background fabric, it came together without incident. Maybe that's why I got over-confident and tried my hand at a more challenging pattern, the Crazy Cat Two Paper Piece Quilt Block, found here on Craftsy.

It was much more challenging with the smaller pieces and some of the seams just didn't match up as well as they should have. This block is definitely not 10" x 10" and I'm sure it has nothing to do with the pattern and all to do with my paper piecing skills. Still, it's been an exercise in determining what quilting techniques I like. I absolutely see a place for it when it comes to complicated blocks with small, intricate pieces. Is it a technique I'll go out of my way to do often? Probably not. At least not right now. It's a technique I'll place on the back burner. Next up, I need to try some machine appliqué.


I've linked this to Show & Tell Tuesday and Fluster Buster's Creative Muster. Drop by to see some other great projects!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Creating a Feedly Button For Your Blog

I've been doing lots of tweaking to my blog to make it prettier and easy to read. Anyone who's been reading my blog for the last few weeks may have noticed ever-changing social media links. I've been playing around with them to see what I liked. I've always thought that the little round buttons with just a small images were very classy but I wasn't sure how to create those. Once again, Karen at Sew Many Ways had the answer in her Blogging Tips section. I am getting a bit more comfortable with HTML and by that I mean I don't run screaming out of the room the moment I see it. That's progress. Anyway, I created some wonderful new mint colored social media buttons following Karen's step by step instructions. If I can do it, so can you! The only problem for me - there wasn't a button for Feedly. With Google Reader going away in a week it seems like most people are switching over to either Feedly or Bloglovin'.  I personally prefer Bloglovin' but wanted to give my readers who prefer Feedly a quick option to subscribe. That's why I created one!

If you want to create a Feedly button here's what you can do:

1. Download the buttons from Carrie Loves in the color of your choice. The file that you will need to create a Feedly button is titled blank.png

2. Download the Feedly Button Kit to create your own blog button. Once the zip file has been downloaded to your computer, you will find a folder full of PNG files. The one you will need is feedly-follow-logo-white_2x.png

3. To create the logo I used Pixlr Editor. I needed to create an account but it was free.
Go to and select "Open Image from Computer" and open up both .png files that are in red in steps 1 and 2.
[If you know of a way to merge 2 photos using another program such as Photoshop, by all means use that instead. ]

4. Click onto the Feedly file to make it the active picture. Click EDIT and SELECT ALL from the drop down menu. Then click EDIT and COPY.

5. Now click on the colored button file to make it the active picture. Click EDIT and PASTE. And would you look at that - you now have a button to perfectly match all of your other buttons!

6. Now click FILE and SAVE. Be sure to change the name from Blank to Feedly and you're done!

Now you can continue with Karen's wonderful tutorial on how to create the HTML file. Hopefully this has helped! I guess this could be considered my very first tutorial!

Added Note: If anyone tries my steps, please let me know if it worked for you or if I'm missing anything. Thanks!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Repurposed Nightstand

We're getting ready to put our house up for sale in the next few weeks and have been getting everything in order. We've had a small desk in our spare bedroom that could be used for my sewing machine or as a second desk space when needed. Our realtor recommended that we either make it a bedroom or an office, not both. So, we put the queen sized bed into storage and made it into an office/sewing room. The desk that was already in the room was designated for my sewing machine and we moved my husband's desk up there as well to make our family room look bigger.

I decided to keep the nightstand in the room and use it to keep some of my sewing supplies in it - thread, trimming scissors, my quilting gloves, rotary cutter, etc. With the new arrangement I quickly realized that I needed a better system for pressing blocks during piecing. My ironing board on the other side of my sewing table and I felt like I spent most of my time jumping up to press a seam. After a quick trip to Home Depot, I had me a perfect sized piece of plywood that I covered with some extra batting and a scrap piece of upholstery fabric. Viola! A cheery little pressing board to give our old nightstand a new purpose. It worked out beautifully.

Weekly link-ups:  I'm linking this post up to the Plum and June's Let's Get Acquainted Link Up which is being hosted this week at Heart of Charnwood.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Overwhelmed with the Blogging Community

When I logged onto my computer Friday morning and went to my blogger home page I almost spilled my tea when I saw the number of hits on my little ol' blog. Over 500 views and climbing and it was barely 7am! I couldn't figure out what was going on until I opened blog lovin' and started reading through my favorite blogs. Lo and behold, Karen at Sew Many Ways surprised me by featuring me on her wonderful blog! Her loyal readers have shown me and my blog so much love it was overwhelming. I'm sure that 95% of my readers are already fans of Karen's, but for the one or two who aren't, please be sure to check it out. You won't be sorry. I'm still digging through all of her great posts and as a new blogger I'm loving her entire section on blogging tips. It's been invaluable!  This experience has reaffirmed my decision to start my blog and to be more connected with the blogging community. THANK YOU!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A Thread Catcher That's The Cat's Meow

I keep a small waste basket under my sewing table but I always seem to be trimming off threads while at my ironing board (which isn't next to my sewing table right now). So, what's a girl to do? Make a cute thread catcher with some adorable novelty cat fabric, of course!

I'd seen various thread catchers for sale on Etsy but I knew I could make one and found this tutorial at the Polka Dot Apron. It comes together very quickly - less than 2 hours total. Time well spent to brighten up my sewing room!

No-Reply Blogger Beware!

I'm still pretty new at navigating the waters of keeping a blog on Blogger, having switched over from my old blog back in May. Once I got everything up and running I decided to combine my blogger profile with Google+ and that's where my unknown troubles began. I'd heard about people being "No Reply Bloggers" but I didn't think I fell into that category. Little did I know! Thanks to Beth over at Plum and June - she already had my contact information and was so kind to contact me letting me know that I was one of those no-reply bloggers!

Thankfully a solution to my problem was only a few clicks away, once I knew what to do. I tried researching my issue through Blogger Help and Google+ but nothing seemed to address it. After doing a more extensive internet search I came across this wonderful post from Robin at Fluster Buster. It was so helpful and now my comments are no longer a dead-end! Hopefully this can help someone else too!

Monday, June 17, 2013

A Clever Way to Hang a Small Quilt

When I purchased a table topper kit in February I just made the assumption that I would put the finished piece on my table but it ended up being too big to be functional.  For the last few months it's been draped over the back of our loveseat  in our play room since it matches the red curtains in that room perfectly. That's why I decided I'd like to hang it on the wall, but how? 3M Command Strips to the rescue! Here's what I did:

I took two 4-inch squares, folded them into triangles and hand stitched them on the back side of the quilt in the top two corners.  

I then measured the back of my quilt from the inside edge of the bindings. For this quilt it was 31.5 inches. I went to my local Home Depot and in their crown moulding section they have 1/4" x 1-3/8" pine lattice for 67 cents a foot that you can cut yourself. You could just buy a yard stick and cut it down, but this was probably cheaper. For smaller wall hanging quilts you could even use a paint stick. Once you have your stick cut to the correct measurement, it should just slide right into the little pockets you added. Lastly, you stick on the 3M Command Strips. I used 2, about an inch in from each of the pockets. 

Peel off the strips and stick it up on the wall where you like and voila! A super easy, clever way to hang a smaller quilt. If you know you plan on hanging a small quilt you can baste on the triangle pockets before you sew on your binding.

Here's the finished look.

Friday, June 14, 2013

I'd like you to meet Miranda

Well, she's finally done! I finished my Miranda bag.

Overall, I'm pleased with how it turned out but there are a few things that I want to change.  The pattern calls for velcro to be used on the flap closure. I didn't want to do that since it's very likely that this bag will be used for knitting projects. Velcro and yarn together are not a good combo, trust me on that. Instead I used a magnetic snap that I pulled off of an old purse that I don't use anymore. I think the snap might be too small and I had a hard time figuring out how to actually secure it to the bag so it doesn't seem to work well. I'm contemplating replacing it with a decorative button if I can find one that will work. That will also give me a good excuse to try out my buttonhole feature on my Babylock Symphony machine.

Here's a closeup of the closure flap. It didn't call for any quilting but I just felt the need to add some free motion swirls since the rest of the bag was quilted.

Lastly, here is a shot of the interior. It has lots of pockets which I like. I followed the pattern and only put in one narrow pocket good for a pen but if I were to make it again I think I'd do some pockets to better accommodate knitting needles and crochet hooks. There is also a sleeve you can make to put an acrylic base inside to make the base more sturdy. I think I'm going to make the sleeve and just use something like foam-core to give it a bit more stability.

I seriously contemplated keeping it for myself, but this too is going to be a gift for someone special. I think she'll really like it.

A Fabric Friday Giveaway at Maureen Cracknell Handmade

Hooray for Friday! And an even bigger hooray for a fabric giveaway that Maureen is having on her blog Maureen Cracknell Homemade! Isn't this cutest fabric you've ever seen?! Go and check out Maureen's blog for all the details including a 15% discount at Knotted Thread's Etsy page!

Friday, June 07, 2013

Mission Accomplished: Swirls!

Hello and Happy Free-Motion Friday! I solved my earlier quilt design dilemma, and quite successfully if I say so myself.  I decided to do a swirl design and I couldn't be happier with how it turned out.

I also did the same design on the blue medallion fabric but it was much more difficult since I couldn't see my stitches on the busier pattern. I tried flipping the sandwich over and quilting directly on top of the batting but that had its own challenges. I could see better but my hopper foot kept catching little fibers. I also didn't think the stitches looked as smooth or flat on the fabric side. Ultimately I ended up flipping it back to the fabric side and used my closed darning foot. 

I originally thought that it might be another Christmas gift in the making but I just might have to keep this one for myself! I finished the bag last night so I'll post pictures soon.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Out Damn Stripe! Out, I Say!

A few weeks ago I posted about the random stripe in my sock that was bothering me and whether or not I should make the second sock like the first, or rip back the first sock and remove the offending stripe. The OCD in me just didn't allow me to just let it go so you can see that there isn't a dark stripe in the second sock. Eventually I'll get around to ripping back the first sock and fixing it. Just as an fyi, I'm not usually this slow of a knitter - these are my Cedar Point socks. It's the project that I work on in the car when we're driving to Sandusky. It makes the 50 minute drive go by faster.

Knitwear looks so much better when paired with peonies!

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Choosing a quilt design

I finally got all of my supplies to start my Miranda bag and the first thing I have to do is quilt 2 fabric panels that will later be cut up into blocks. I'm using the same prints that I used on my Kindle Cover - a blue/black medallion pattern and a black/slate gray floral pattern.

I was struggling to decide what to quilt over these 2 different fabrics and what thread color I should use. I did some small samples and have figured out the thread color (I think) but still not sure what overall pattern. It doesn't really matter what I decide for the medallion fabric since the quilting tends to get lost in the busy pattern, but it's a bit more complicated with the black/slate fabric. I don't want the slate colored flowers to get lost with too much quilting, but I couldn't figure out a way to quilt around the flowers to enhance them. In looking for inspiration and answers I stumbled upon this great video of "What to Quilt On Your Quilt" from Quilt Expressions. It's long, but as a new-ish quilter it provided some good information and things to consider when quilting your own creations.