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Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Eve Reflections


I started sewing in June.

This year, I have made:
7 mug rugs (2 yet to be completely revealed)
4 quilts (one yet to be completely revealed)
2 t-shirt quilts
2 table toppers
1 pincushion
1 wall hanging
1 house block
1 passport cover

Considering that I've been at college from the end of August to the middle of December, and that I started halfway through the year, I think I did a lot! :) And I'm really excited for a new year of sewing.

Just a few things: I'm participating in scraphappy's Rainbow Scrap Challenge for the New Year - as long as I am home for a weekend, I will make something!
I hope to participate as much as possible, because not only does it sound fun, but I'm starting to gather way too many scraps. Though, now that I think about it, you can never have enough scraps! January's color is blue, so I need to get down to my scrap box and start sorting...

I'm also participating in Angela's (at CuttoPieces) Fabric Diet.
Preview
No buying fabric for 2 months, and every week that you don't, you get an entry into a giveaway for, what else - FABRIC! You should join if you can! For more of a description, click the button and visit Angela's site.

Giveaway alert: Over at Stray Stitches, Linda is giving away a beautiful pattern called "Flying Colors" and... wait for it... 25 fat quarters and 5/8 year of black fabric. That's TWENTY FIVE, yes. Surely you'll have some scraps after using the pattern! Go check it out:

P.S. I'm currently still pondering what to give away for my first giveaway... hm... stay tuned for that.

Okay, okay - some peeks at what I've been working on.

Harry Potter mug rugs!

This was my first time stippling (besides practice) and I'm pretty happy with the results. This was also my first time attaching binding, because... I'll admit it... I was scared to learn on my own. It looked REALLY difficult, even though I know basically everyone in the quilting world does it. I used a combination of the tutorials from Red Pepper Quilts and Crazy Mom Quilts to get the mitered corners and all!




(^The binding has been fully attached since this picture^)

The baby quilt is almost done! I just have to finish attaching the binding today. Here's a sneak peek (more stippling action!):


Last night, even though I measured at least ten extra inches, I ended up about 6 inches short with my binding :(


But, no big deal. I just attached an extra piece. I guess my sister and I can't do math!

Finally, I'm at the cutting fabric stages of making a gathered clutch from Noodlehead's fantastic tutorial. I need to finish it Sunday, though, so I can use it in the city (more about that soon!) Guess what color it is... well, if you've been reading, I think you can guess ;)

I hope everyone has a great New Year's Eve! We're all going out to dinner and just hanging out until the ball drops. I hear there's going to be a short wedding broadcasted in Time Square around 9 PM EST... and I really want to watch!
Happy New Year!



Thursday, December 30, 2010

My New Year's Resolutions

As a sewing New Year's resolution (more general ones are at the bottom of this post), I have taken the process pledge (check out the button on the right side of my blog) - I will be talking more about my quilts, why I am making them, what problems I have, and hope that my fabulous readers will help me along in the process (and I will do the same for you!)

The process pledge says:
I, (Jessica), pledge to talk more about my processes, even when I can’t quite put them in the in words or be sure I’m being totally clear. I’m going to put my thinking and my gut feelings out there.

So, here's my first confession. I have a lot of trouble with the 1/4 seam allowance. A lot. The baby quilt I'm working on right now did not come out the way I want it, and I need to gift it this weekend, so I don't have time to take it apart. I tried really hard, but my seam allowances did not match up very well =/
I'm embarrassed, and it's frustrating! I'm going to try measuring it on my sewing machine and stacking up tape at the 1/4 mark so that I stay in line. I'm also going to keep trying to be as accurate with my rotary cutter as possible, and using my new 24x36 mat will help. Do you have any other suggestions for me? Maybe with the machine, or with cutting? Anything would be appreciated.

I still think the quilt came out good, but I don't want this to happen again. I'm taking a stand against my current inability to sew a 1/4 inch seam allowance! And this is my first confession!

Other New Year's resolutions I have:
-SAVE the money I earn from my two on-campus jobs and NYC internship (for the almost certain Europe research trip in May, and just in general - which means, stop buying fabric so often. This year, it must be done).

-Eat healthier, get back to the gym in January, and work out. Make a work out plan with the fiance for the summer and stick to it.

-Start things more in advance (I've already been improving on this, yay!)

-Clean out my entire room, starting in May. Literally. And GET RID OF STUFF - I am a pack rat. Not the scary kind, like a hoarder, but... I have a lot of stuff that I don't need anymore, that's for sure!

-Spend as much time as my sewing machine as possible! Without alienating people, of course ;) I've got some great projects to work on already- a couple very special quilts for a couple very special people, figuring out what to make for my wedding (definitely my veil, so far), a wedding quilt, and some gathered clutches, oh, and at least three t-shirt quilts are lined up... it's going to be a busy year :) But not as busy as some of the bloggers on my bloglist seem to be - they rock!

And lastly, just to stop worrying about the future. Let each day progress as it may. I don't know how easy this one will be as I wrap up my undergraduate degree, write a 50 page senior honors thesis, hopefully do research in Eastern Europe, and enter student teaching, AND get ready for our wedding, but we'll see! :)

Looking very much forward to 2011. Happy New Year!

(My little sister, who is ever so talented with the computer, made me a signature in my favorite color! I love her and purple! Thanks, Ris!)


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Quilty Habit #1

This idea suddenly... came to me yesterday. My blog is named "Quilty Habit" - because it's become a GOOD habit... or a hobby of mine, I guess, is what I'm trying to say. :)

But... wouldn't it be interesting, and wouldn't it add to my blog, if I offered a "quilty habit" of mine, when I realize I have one? I decided it can be a good, neutral, or bad thing. They'll probably be posted on a weekly basis, unless I notice them more/less frequently.

Well, the very first quilty habit is not necessarily a bad thing (though my mom thinks differently!). It's neutral.

Mom: So, I was cleaning out the sewing box today and started putting away things...
Me: *oh crap what did I do*
Mom: WHY do you leave thread on the hand sewing needles???



I don't know why, mom, except that I like to save thread? I know that's kind of a silly thing to save because it's relatively cheap. I guess the other reason is that if I need to use that color again, I have a needle already threaded =D

So, that's my quilty habit of the day. Do you have a quilty habit? Let me know!

P.S. This is what I'm working on today... can you guess the theme?



-Jess

Ho, ho, ho!

Here's my post for the p.s. i quilt and Fat Quarter Shop's "ho ho ho" contest :)
(http://www.psiquilt.com/2010/12/ho-ho-ho.html)

psiquiltgiveaway

Santa was on his way out of the North Pole
When suddenly, a cold wind started to blow
Rudolph kicked higher and angrily bellowed
but Santa yelled, "it's alright, my fellow!"
Santa thought of his warm house just below
where Mrs. Claus was surely aglow
with Christmas excitement and red, rosy cheeks
She'd be baking cookies and milk and a cake filled with cream cheese
The after-trip snack would be just a delight -
His stomach rumbled in anticipation for after flight.
He then thought of Mrs. Claus sewing away
She was finishing a quilt for Christmas Day
He remembered the elves giving him needles, thread, plastic bins,
Fabric, batting, patterns, and pins...
There certainly were a lot of quilters this year!
And then the food came back to his mind, oh dear,
and as he sat there distracted, the reindeer looked behind
At Santa, in his daze - he didn't seem to notice, or mind,
that they were flying right into a dark cloud ahead
Santa was the one steering the sled!
Just a moment too late, and with a cry,
Santa pulled his cold, shivering team from the sky
And out of the cloud, but as he violently turned
Some presents went overboard, and his stomach churned
As they tumbled all the way down to the ground
There was no way they could be found
The sled went so fast, and the reindeer groaned in dismay
Some would be sad on Christmas day.
Santa scolded himself as they flew by,
How could he have lost track of the time?
Although Mrs. Claus would approve,
Thinking of quilts and cookies was not a good move.

Santa, I didn't get my Accuquilt GO! cutter!
It must have fallen out like slipped butter
My GO! was supposed to come with a jelly roll
of 12 days of Christmas, and four yards of Kona snow
Now I can't make my post-Christmas quilt,
I hope that you are feeling the guilt!

(Not really. Santa was extra good to me this year ;) See this post.)

Passport Cover and Cleaning Up

I forgot to share one last gift I made this year - a passport cover, for Mike's cousin. I used this excellent and very clear tutorial from bunnybum.

Shalyn loves red and pink, so I used some Amy Butler Love for the outside:



Pockets!


Her family loves to travel, so I though this would be perfect. It was easy to whip up; it took maybe ten minutes.

Think about trying it out when you hear of a friend who is leaving on a big, exciting trip! I know I'm going to sew up a couple more of these babies next year - hopefully, one for me! I'm actually going to apply for my passport tomorrow, coincidentally.

One more thing: remember back at this post when I said I'd cleaned up my quilting area? Here's what the "clean" storage looked like then (mind you, I'm using half of the dining room, and I can't wait to have my own sewing room one day!):


Well, I "cleaned" again! This is definitely much better. Still boxes and bags of fabric to the right, but that's beside the point :)

("Scraps," "Precuts," and "Fall and Christmas") - my three largest categories of fabric right now. All my FQs and half yard/yards are stored in those lovely plastic drawers.

Yay for organization! Just in time for the New Year. Speaking of, I've got a New Years resolution post coming up. See you then!

-Jess

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Gifts - Given and Received!

I hope everyone had a wonderful and relaxing Christmas with family and friends. Now we can all blog about our Christmas gifts! This is going to be a lengthy and picture-y post, but I hope you enjoy looking!

My favorite present that I gave - a "Dark Lord" cape made for my geeky but extremely lovable fiance (this is me modeling):




Translation: "For the Dark Lord in my life. Love always, the Dark Lady. P.S. No, you cannot wear this in our wedding, heart, 12/10"

On Christmas :) No pictures of him modeling yet, though. I'll get on that.

I'm very proud of the cape. The hood took a couple hours to figure out, but that's just because I have trouble reading directions apparently! I used a combination of two wonderful tutorials, though: here at Puking Pastilles and here at about.com.

And two table toppers - one for Mike's aunt and uncle's family, and his mother. I'm also proud of these because my quilting is getting a LOT better! And I made use of the Dresden ruler again :)


Yay for my straight line quilting! I work so hard:



I didn't have time to make more because of when I got home for winter break, so Mike and I ended up buying more than I thought we would. But that's okay. :)

Santa was very generous and brought me lots of sewing supplies and things I asked for! As a new quilter, some of this was direly needed (is that a word?). Now, I need to go out this week and buy a 24x36 (or bigger) rotary mat, some rotary replacements, and some more batting... but the things Santa brought me made me really, really happy!

A mini ironing board and iron, so I don't have to keep running upstairs to iron! (this gift was a complete surprise)

Innocent Crush layer cake! Can't wait to start using this.

A Singer set of sewing essentials, including lots of bobbins, needles, and LOTS of thread, all in different colors, of course!!


^(the coolest little pincushion ever)^

A Brother quilting foot so I can free motion quilt - I started practicing today, and I love it. I can't wait to be able to do it without thinking so hard!

My Tinkerbell ornament (see my Christmas post for more info :) )

My sister bought me this adorable sign:


Of course, the presents are not what Christmas is about, but I can't lie and say that I didn't enjoy receiving presents :)

GIVEAWAY ALERT:
Dawn of Dawn's Quilt Corner is giving away SEVEN YARDS of Robert Kaufman's Dr. Seuss fabric for the New Year! SEVEN! This is one of the most generous fabric giveaways I've seen in a while. You can enter here.

Speaking of giveaways, I found out I won not one but three of the Sew, Mama, Sew giveaways. I was absolutely floored! (Sorry but I had to have my moment to brag! Moment done). Well, I received one of my prizes in the mail already - a keychain from Hana Kim - I picked the apple because I'm going to be a teacher so soon! I LOVE it and I can't tell you how perfect it looks with my other keys. Thank you so much, Hana! It's absolutely adorable!


Well, that's all for today! We're also getting snow here in NJ, but it's only about 2 inches right now. We're supposed to get more early tomorrow morning. I guess it's another day of quilting for me - going to put together that baby quilt. Have a great Monday!

-Jessica

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas to you!

Christmas Eve tradition in my house is eating food and watching "The Muppet Christmas Carol" - which is by far my favorite Christmas movie. The music is spectacular, the story is funny but classic, Michael Caine is Scrooge, and it just never gets old. And they are Muppets! Highly recommended. I love Christmas Eve. What's your favorite Christmas tradition? I would love to know!

I promised a look at my house on Christmas. :)



Another tradition we have is getting a new Hallmark ornament every year. It's really fun now to look back at my ornaments and see what I liked in a certain year. For most of the 90's, my younger brother and I would get similar Disney ornaments, and we ALWAYS hang them near each other on the tree, on purpose. For example:




Lately, I've been collecting the Precious Moments Disney ornaments every year. This year's is Tinker Bell, and I can't wait to open her up and hang her on the tree next to these two! I guess ornaments are one of the most special parts of Christmas to me (besides being with family, of course). And those chocolate chip cookies for Santa are yummy... :) Below is Ariel, and Cinderella and her Prince Charming.


This is one of my very first ornaments, which I was obviously too little to remember receiving:

And finally, here is the little tree in my room, which is actually the tree Mike, my fiance, bought me two years ago (has it already been two years?) This is our fourth Christmas together. We love sitting in my room and just looking at it. Very peaceful. :)


Have a very Merry Christmas, everyone! Enjoy your family time and the quiet peacefulness that Christmas always seems to bring.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

On a Roll!

This week, I've been ignoring everything else and just sitting at my sewing machine (basically) :). I'm treating this as a well-deserved break, though next week I have to get back on track and start reading tons of books and articles for my internship. But anyway... while I can't show Christmas presents just yet still, I'm working on two other things...

I made a pincushion with this handy, very easy-to-follow tutorial. This should hold me over until I can make a big owl pincushion... it's on the to-do list!


Then, I started making a baby quilt for the most adorable four-day-old newborn I have ever seen, our neighbor. I'm getting there and I plan on getting a lot done tomorrow. Some "Dream On" charms, some Valerie Wells, and fairies...




Giveaway alert - Retromummy is giving away 20 gorgeous fat quarters of Flower Sugar - imagine everything you could make with all that fabric! Woo! You can enter here: http://retromummy.blogspot.com/2010/12/flower-sugar-giveaway.html

Christmas post is going to be on Christmas Eve day. :) Hope everyone is getting their sewing done!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Goodies, Part 2 and Lots of Sewing!

When I came home for winter break, my desk looked like this:


About half of that was fabric (=D).
Here's what I added to my stash from about five different shops, including Quilttaffy and Green Fairy Quilts (sorry I don't have all of them listed here, I would need to go look at my receipts for that - Black Friday was just insane!)



There are a ton of fat quarters in there, some yards, a 12 days of Christmas panel, an "It's a Hoot" layer cake (!), some Amy Butler and Innocent Crush....

Also, excitement = gathering fabrics for my purple quilt!:


I also made a house (surrounded by flowers and quite abstract!) for Love Laugh Quilt, which I've mentioned before, and you can read more about here. I can't wait to send it out!




And then, I made a LOT of progress on Christmas gifts, some of which I can only show glimpses of at the moment, with more later this week...




I'm planning on doing a post dedicated to my Christmasy house within the next two days. Stay tuned and enjoy the Christmas week!

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