Saturday, April 12, 2014

Flocks of HSTs

Reporting to you from sleep-deprived new baby land....
No, I didn't finish this quilt immediately after giving birth - that would be crazy talk! - but I hadn't managed to post about it yet, so here ya go :)

My first do. Good stitches quilt finish! {Last update found here and block tutorial found here}

Flocks of HSTs

The cross hatch quilting worked out beautifully, both for avoiding puckers and for allowing the quilt enough space to crinkle up nicely.

Flocks of HSTs

I used Pellon's Nature's Touch batting. I've been trying out some different battings this year and really like this one, Hobbs 80/20 and Hobbs cotton battings. I think they are all so much more luxurious than Warm & Natural! (no one throw sticks at me....lol)

Someone asked me about why I'm not a huge Warm and White/Natural fan (but they were a no-reply blogger, so I'm addressing it briefly here). Even though this specific Pellon batting is 100% cotton, it almost looks like a poly-blend (now that it's done) because of how thick it is - advertised as 1/4" loft, it's the thickest cotton batting I've come across. I really like the the look of high loft batting because of the way it emphasizes quilting. In actuality, I find that only some parts of the batting are actually that thick - not the entirety of the batting. However, it is so much denser than the Warm & White/Natural brand that it still ends up being wayyyy better of a batting. The quilts I make with it seem a little heavier/more robust, and I think they are much warmer than Warm & White quilts are. Just in my opinion :) It's also cheaper than Warm & White and available at Jo-Ann's. Done and done. Never going back now!

Flocks quilt

See the wonderful texture it got?

Flocks quilt

I got some good feedback from you guys about the Hera marker (see comments on this post) - some of you also disliked how violent you had to be towards your fabric. Suggestions for crisper lines included marking before creating the quilt sandwich and starching the quilt top first - I'll have to try those techniques to see if they help! Thanks for your thoughts!

Flocks quilt

I tried a slightly different machine binding method since my Juki doesn't do a zig zag (sad face!) - I sewed the binding to the back first, flipped it over to the front and gave it an ample fold. That way, I didn't have to worry about the stitching hopping on and off the binding in the back - it was cleanly off all the way around. 

I have never managed to do the whole stitch-in-the-ditch so it'll catch on the other side method well. I have to go back in a million places where I missed the binding on the other side, it takes a lot of time to go fix it all up, and it doesn't look great. So I'd rather fold it over, stitch it on the top and see where it ends up on the back, with the goal of being completely off the binding (I just prefer how that looks). It worked pretty well; I'll probably be using this method in the future.

And some fun birds for the back :) But not geese. After all, these are actually HSTs, not geese!

Flocks quilt

It's been a really long time since I completely finished a quilt, so it felt really nice to finish this one - doubly so, since it's going to charity and helping my sewing room look cleaner!


Flocks of HSTs

Linking up to Finish it up Friday.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Fresh Sewing Day

I haven't participated in Fresh Sewing Day in awhile, and since I'm being kept away from my sewing machine by my brand new baby (no complaints!), I thought it might be a good time to just look back.

This month, I finished the Dyed quilt top:

Dyed

After talking with a blogger friend, I've decided to send it out for quilting to make sure it gets the treatment it deserves.


I shared that I had started quilting my first do. Good Stitches bee quilt:

Flocks of HSTs

I'm all done with that! I haven't had a chance to post about it, but will as soon as I can :)


At 40 weeks pregnant, I was getting super antsy and decided to coax baby out by starting his quilt on his due date. I'm not the best nester, I know, but at least I got it done before he arrived!

Baby Boy Plus Quilt

In addition, I talked about buying craft books...

Sewing Room Declutter

...and my huge sewing room purge (find here and here).
I also painted a wall. But I don't have a photo of that...

Sewing Room Declutter

Whew. I must say, I got a lot done during my 9th month of pregnancy! Linking up to Lily's Quilts:

Lily's Quilts

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Happy to announce that Mr. Late Arrival has finally shown up!

Augustine James (who we are calling Gus) was born on Sunday at 6:08 pm, weighing in at 8 lbs, 2 oz.

Apparently people think this is a girl's name....
Now, it was popular among some hipsters in the 1910s and 1940s to name their baby girls Augustine, but uh....it's originally a boy's name.


More specifically, this dude:


It's driving me a little bit crazy. I was not expecting gender confusion on this one!

Anyway....

I was planning on getting off another post about my purging process, but somebody has decided to be a sleepy nurser who takes forever to eat, so uh...that will be a little late :)

In the meantime, I'll just be enjoying little Gus over here!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

How to Purge Your Sewing Room: Steps I & II

Last Sunday, I was able to take a ton of bags of fabric, books, interfacing, batting, and tools to my quilt guild meeting. It was extremely fulfilling to see my possessions - which were dragging me down, cluttering my sewing room, and preventing me from working effectively - make other people so happy. I was especially pleased to be passing along some of these items to newer quilters. When you're first starting out, I think it's really helpful to work on projects without worrying about how much money you spent on everything!

Keeping some of the philosophies behind decluttering and minimizing was key in this cleanup. The more stuff I got rid of, the happier and more liberated I felt. I began feeling less attached to my things. It made it feel strange when people were surprised by my decluttering. They almost seemed more attached to my items on my behalf than I felt attached to them! These items are just things - replaceable! - and not the most valuable aspects of my life.

{image source}


Part I: The Basics

{reclaim your house}

To begin with, I went through the rest of my house and reclaimed all of my rooms. If you're like me, your fabric and quilting items have migrated into every room of the house. Literally.


Yup. That's a sewing machine in my bathroom.

I returned all of these items to my sewing room so that I only had to sort through everything once.

{general clean}

This is the time to get rid of as much as possible, as quickly as possible. Take out any obvious trash/recycle items that don't require any thought to keep the momentum going. Making a big visual impact at the get-go will help give you incentive to keep going!

In my first basic clean sweep, I got rid of 3 huge black bags of trash! *hangs head in shame*

Part II: Your Stash

Stash Purge

This part has generated a lot of comments - people were either impressed at how much I was taking out, or horrified. I don't think anyone was expecting me to go to such extreme lengths when they read my initial post! But my husband and I really are working on minimizing our possessions, not just keeping the house in relative order.

Sewing Room Declutter

At the end of my life, I won't wish I had bought more fabric. I won't regret giving away my scraps. I won't miss my batting offcuts. I will be measured by the content of my life, not the contents of my house. I'm only interested in keeping what helps me live and create more effectively. Everything else is unnecessary.

{image source}

Stashing should provide you with the fabric and tools you want to use and do use. If I didn't even want it, there was no reason to keep it. Not even "just in case".  Stashing isn't doomsday prepping for every possible situation down the road. As I purged my stash, I asked myself, is this serving me? If the answer was no, or if it was difficult to put my finger on how it was serving me, out it went! 

{know your standards}

In order to decide if something stays or goes, it helps to have some sort of predetermined criteria. Yours might be different than mine.


Here's what I decided needed to be donated, no questions asked:


- Non quilt store quality fabrics
At this point in my life, I'm only interested in using good fabric. I'd rather have less fabric that's higher quality than a huge pile of cheap fabric. If I wasn't sure about the quality of the fabric, it went in this pile as well.

Stash Purge
{a big ole' pile of Jo-Ann's fabric}

- Fabric I no longer like
Hey, it happens. Tastes change. I'm living in the present, not the past. There's no need to feel guilty about it (as long as you adapt your shopping habits accordingly). It's better for someone else - who loves that style of fabric - to own it, love it, and use it, than for me to look at it disdainfully, annoyed that it's taking up space on my shelf. I'm not worried that in 5 years, I'll want that style of fabric again. I don't think it will happen. And if it does, I'll buy some then.

- Batting scraps of blends/brands I don't really care for
I've recently had the pleasure of trying out Pellon Nature's Touch, some Quilter's Dream batting, and a large variety of Hobb's battings. I love them all! And I have no desire to use Warm & White/Natural ever again. Sorry Warm & White....(or as my friend likes to call it, Warm & Cheap - lol!). I knew there were plenty of other people who would use and appreciate these scraps. I also got rid of 100% Poly battings. I only use these for very specific (and rare) purposes, and definitely didn't feel the need to keep them.

Here's what I decided to keep automatically:


- Solids - these are a staple item to me (your staples might be different, of course)

Sewing Room Declutter

- Prints: I kept blenders, fabrics I'm super in love with, and fabrics I have plans for

Stash Purge

Stash Purge

- Large pieces of batting (of approved brands and blends)

Some things were decided on a case-by-case basis:

- Fabric I haven't been able to use, despite multiple attempts (usually this happened with multi-colored prints or fabrics with a cream, rather than white, background)

- Fabric I felt so-so about (if it was a large piece, I reserved it as backing for charity quilts)

- Non-quilting cottons (for the most part, I got rid of these, but did keep some flannels for baby things)

Stash Purge

- Traditional fabrics I liked, but wasn't sure I would end up using (some of these left, a number of them stayed, and they'll be re-evaluated in a year or so)

Addressing scraps

I view these as part of my stash, though I did sort through them a little differently.

- I kept my scrap jars. They're just for decoration :)

Stash Purge

- I got rid of super small scraps. At this point, I have enough scraps that I'm ok with donating smaller ones, for the sake of space. When I also had yardage of the same fabric, it seemed silly to keep the teeny tiny scraps.
- I kept all solids (unless they were super small).
- I got rid of all scraps that screamed "ugly fabric" to me.
- I got rid of all scraps that I couldn't picture using (I find things like plaids very specific and hard to place).
- Scraps from projects/fabrics that I am so totally over. I've used them, I made the quilt, I just have no desire to use them again. (Maybe I'm not a scrap quilter?)

***

So there you have it - a general clean and a stash purge got me most of the way there. In about a week or so, I'll talk about purging some tools and furniture. I'm not sure if you still think I'm crazy or not, but this has really made my sewing room a more enjoyable and peaceful place!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Baby boy plus quilt

This little baby quilt is all ready for some baby cuddles!

Baby Boy Plus Quilt

I settled for a simple crosshatch (like in the HST quilt). The hera marker did not show up well on the linen, so I just used a disappearing marker.

Baby Boy Plus Quilt

I used a Sulky 30 weight cotton variegated blue thread. The chunky thread was perfect for the look and feel of the linen. Loving all the textures of this quilt!

Baby Boy Plus Quilt

I love the backing on this one. Such a fun pop of color and design!

Baby Boy Plus Quilt

Especially how you catch little glimpses of the green when it's folded up or thrown somewhere :)

Baby Boy Plus Quilt

It was an end of the bolt cut, so a small strip of Parson Gray filled out the backing.

Baby Boy Plus Quilt

I used Hobbs 80/20 cotton poly batting. I love the extra oomph and loft this batting has! Definitely thick enough to hold its own with the heavier Essex Linen fabric.

Baby Boy Plus Quilt

Now it just needs some baby snuggles :)

Baby Boy Plus Quilt