Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Quiltiness and Beyond!

Besides being a huge fan of Toy Story, I am also proud looking back at this year! It turned out to be extremely productive with my (new!) sewing machine. 16 quilts (5 of which were mini, but sometimes they require just as much work! Amiright?)! 6 of them are still in my possession. I definitely wanted to make things for myself this year, so I'm calling that a win.

1. Sisters' Ten Quilt #1 for my sis, 2. "South" mini quilt, 3. "Mint Chocolate Chip" quilt, 4. Pumpkin Spice Latte -front, 5. "Hoot" baby quilt, 6. Sneak peek - school quilt, 7. "Sedona" - for Layers of Hope 911, 8. Dresden Rainbow - Our Wedding Quilt, 9. "Falling Up" mini quilt, 10. "Summer Fun" Baby Quilt, 11. Argyled, 12. "Butterflies for Emilee", 13. "Birds of a Feather", 14. "Fruit Punch" mini quilt, 15. "Bon Chance" Mini Quilt, 16. Facets of Emerald

Finishing my wedding quilt, Dresden Rainbow, which now resides on our bed. This quilt, which was 3 years in the making, was really a product of all of my skills and fabrics. I love it so, so much. It is definitely my proudest quilting achievement ever, and I'm not sure when the next will come.

I made TWO Sisters' Ten quilts with the awesome BOM at Gen X Quilters! I have the post mostly written up about the journey. Enjoy this picture of the happy first recipient for now!

I won 3rd place in the Quilts category in the Emerald Challenge with Facets of Emerald. That really helped me identify as a quilter who could be taken seriously in the online world.

I joined a bee with the CJMQG and I'm loving it so far. I was hesitant to join at first because of all the deadlines and projects I had going, but I think most of us quilters have similar commitments. 1 block a month hasn't been too much to fuss about. :) I've neglected to post most of the blocks on the blog, so I'll try to do that in the New Year.

I started making quilts and table runners double-sided. I find I save storage space in that way (like, do I really need two separate Thanksgiving and Halloween table runners?),  and that I get to test my skills even more, like with Pumpkin Spice Latte.

1. Untitled, 2. Untitled, 3. Pumpkin Spice Latte quilt back, 4. Pumpkin Spice Latte -front, 5. Winter side - table runner, 6. Thanksgiving side - table runner

I made a lot of other sewing projects, most notably voile scarfs (not all pictured), wrapped wreaths (still obsessed), tote bags, my laptop cover, and my sewing machine cover. Here's to more pillows next year! Also, more clothes sewing. Should probably get on that.

1. Wrenly Voile Scarf - for sister, 2. Fall fabric wrapped wreath, 3. Tote bag - Modernista, 4. A summer skirt for book lovers - AMH Degas/Volumes, 5. Summer fabric wrapped wreath, 6. AMH Laptop Sleeve, 7. "Siriusly", 8. Bloomin' Pillow - Quilt As You Go, 9. Triangle Sewing Machine Cover, AMH fabrics, 10. Tote bags, 11. Modernista Homemade Spring 2013, 12. Spring Wrapped Wreath

I continued with embroidery and I only recently got started back with knitting. I hope to do much more of both of these things in 2014. My SIL was teaching me to cable in Maine, so we'll see where that goes!

I hosted my first (two!) quilt-a-longs this year: Argyled with 1 Choice 4 Quilting and the Lantern QAL! Both can be accessed in full at the "QALs" tab at the top of the blog. I also am currently hosting the Sewing With Certainty series, which runs until February. So far it's been successful and there's been lots of participation! Don't forget to link up about free motion quilting here by Sunday!

Coming in November!

I made more commission t-shirt quilts. These guys are worth the effort once the recipients see them :)

Skills I learned this year:
  • Machine binding thanks to the fabulous Ashley
  • Curve piecing (omg!)
  • Using a walking foot
  • Circle quilting
  • Baptist fan quilting
  • Accurate-as-heck-and-so-proud-of-it HSTs
Goals for 2014:
  • Enjoy other forms of relaxing more often. Only recently did I start to realize how much I missed free reading, so I started reading Divergent (the other two hopefully this week, because I'm totally addicted!). I also have The Fault in Our Stars (what can I say, I love my YA fiction), The Luminaries, and a bunch of random books on my shelf to get to.
  • Take really nice pictures of the apartment and discuss my new decor/continue Project Color My Apartment!
  • Start and finish (by December) a medallion quilt with my AMH collection. I'm itching to start this and I've started sketching... maybe one step or border a month? I probably won't start until February.
  •  Work on and finish the guild banner for the CJMQG. Also, come up with some really great ideas for the guild (I'm the new president for 2014!).
  • Write a tutorial for my string snowflake quilt in the banner - I've had a couple of requests and I've been meaning to do it. First I need to finish the quilt - maybe this week?
  • LEARN HOW TO PAPER PIECE. FOR REAL THIS TIME. I might need your help, guys. I'm just not getting it.
  • Continue mixing straight line and FMQ quilting. Try different combinations.
  • Finish my second Sisters' Ten quilt and take awesome pictures of both.
  • Use much more of my stash.
  • Put the phone away. Instagram is awesome (@quiltyhabit if you are on there) and I love it, but I need to police myself better. 'Nuff said.
What you can expect here at Quilty Habit in 2014:
  • Many more finished quilts and tutorials!
  • More collaboration with Nicole over at 1 Choice 4 Quilting!
  • A color series? We'll see?
  • I'm contemplating a blog hop. This organization may or may not happen very soon, if I can get my act together (sorry I'm being so vague about all this but hopefully it will all be clear soon!)
  • More geeky sewing (always) (teehee). <----This goal was here last year too, so yeah, it's never going away. 
  • More stuff that I haven't even thought to put in vague terms yet. :)
Happy New Year!!

Linking up to 2013 Year in Review with Sarah Quilts and Play Crafts, and Fresh Sewing Day @ Lily's Quilts.


Friday, December 27, 2013

Handmade Holidays

It's been a bit quiet around here lately (regular blogging back on schedule next week), and I've been itching to blog. I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday! The last two weeks were dedicated to starting finishing several gifts. Everything was a bit more rushed because we left to visit my sister-in-law's house in Maine two days before Christmas. It was like, breathe, in and out, in and out. I felt pretty stressed but I'm really glad I stuck my handmade gift goals - everything meant a lot more to gift. This was the first year ever that I handmade gifted a large portion of my gifts.

I made this reversible Thanksgiving/winter tablerunner for my mom in 2 days. She had requested one for Christmas after seeing my Halloween/Thanksgiving one. I love Winter's Lane so much that I'm making almost the same one for myself currently (the other side will be Christmas themed).


Note the Joel Dewberry Herringbone binding - I just got a half yard of it and I used a good portion already. Oh well, I guess that's what the stash is for, right? It just fit perfectly :)

I finished making a bunch of scarves for friends and family. I only got one picture because I was whipping them up and wrapping them right away! I need foresight next time. However, you can see some of the voiles I used here.


 I kept this one :D Love me some AMH voile!

I finished a commission king sized t-shirt quilt for a family friend. I knew king size would be tricky to baste and quilt, and I'm pretty sure the heaviness of a quilt made primarily of jersey cotton made it even more difficult. This quilt was truly a test of my quilting endurance.

I made a bunch of handmade cards for my teacher friends at school. I didn't have the time or supplies to make them for everyone but I really felt like sketching (and starting kicking myself the night before the last day of school when only half were done) but it was so worth it. I'm finding more and more that I prefer designing to most normal daily things. :)

I made a cute pouch for my teacher friend who LOVES Thursdays! 

And my favorite handmade gift of the season was gifted to none other than my favorite sister/quilt photographer in the world, Marisa. As some of you knew/figured out already, she was the recipient of ONE of my Sisters' Ten quilts! I will be sharing more about this very soon.

Right before we left for Maine, Mike and I hosted my family for "Christmas" dinner (Mike makes a mean penne vodka). We exchanged gifts before the holiday and spent some quality family time (that's where Mom received her tablerunner and Marisa opened her quilt hidden in a very small gift bag!). I like how "Facets of Emerald" serves as a holiday decoration in this picture!

More soon from Maine! I would love to hear more about your holidays. Did you make your gifts by hand? Did you finish them all? How were they received? :)

Linking up to TGIFF. I finished my December goal of finishing all Christmas presents with time to spare (phew!!!) so I'm also linking up to A Lovely Year of Finishes!



Sunday, December 22, 2013

Sewing With Certainty #4: Free Motion Quilting with Christa of Christa Quilts!

 This week's topic, free motion quilting, is the one that got me thinking about starting "Sewing With Certainty" in the first place. I always wonder why more people don't quilt their own quilts! There's nothing at all "wrong" with "quilting by checkbook" - I have so much respect for long armers and their craft. It always makes me sad, though, when I hear sewists say they "hate" to quilt :( Try it and practice and you might love it! You never know :)

Today I hope you'll link up and tell us your experiences with free motion quilting. I'll be linking my own post up within the next two weeks, too (though I'm not eligible for prizes, you are, of course! Link up your post at the bottom to be in the running to win a fabric prize from myself and 1 Choice 4 Quilting in February!)


Christa from Christa Quilts! is just an amazing person all-around! She offered to contribute to the series with the post that follows. She posted it first on her blog. Please check out Christa's blog and shop (awesome deals and discounts - 20 to 50 percent off! Treat yo'self :) ).


Sewing with Certainty - Yes, You Can Quilt It Yourself!

I love to encourage others to try their hand at machine quilting. I've blogged about getting started with free-motion quilting here and some of my favorite FMQ tips here.

The number one tool I like my machine quilting students to acquire costs nothing, and everyone has one of these if they know where to look:

It's a "can-do" attitude. :-)

Before you feel like you need to jump in and quilt elegant feathers or spend a ton of time stitching intricately quilted designs, try these tricks instead for effective, quick results:

(1) Don't underestimate the capabilities of your walking foot.
You can add amazing texture to your quilts with simple straight (or not-so straight) lines.  I quilted Baby Bricks by marking a series of straight lines across the diagonal of the quilt and quilting them with a blending cotton thread.

Baby Bricks in Blue
Baby Bricks Quilt Along by Christa Watson
This was an effective way to quilt this quilt and it's enough to hold the quilt together so that it's washable and useable. However, I always like to add more quilting so I went back later and quilted many more rows in between the original lines. I didn't mark any of the extra quilting. I simply used the edge of my walking foot as a guide.

More Quilting

(2) Try stitching "near" the ditch.
Stitching in the ditch is boring and time consuming, so I came up with a jazzier way to quickly quilt the seam lines while adding a little texture. Use a built-in decorative stitch  with your walking foot and quilt across the seam lines so you can see it. Most machines will allow you to change the stitch length or width for a variety of options.

Machine Quilting Wavy Stitches
This is such an easy way to quilt, even a child can do it! My daughter quilted her first quilt when she was just 8 years old. :-)

(3) Try quilting gentle wavy lines with your free-motion foot and the feed dogs dropped.
For my Li'l Rascals quilt, I quilted an unmarked grid with a very thin blending thread. I started by quilting roughly parallel wavy lines all going the same way:


I then turned the quilt and quilted perpendicular to my first set of lines to create an "improv" sort of grid. I love quilting textures that don't have to be evenly spaced!

Wavy Plaid Quilting

4) Practice quilting on real quilts.
The best way to learn is by actually quilting on a real quilt. Don't stress too much about perfect tension or quilting designs. Try out your idea, dive in and do it, and then give the quilt away (to charity, or a family member or loved one). The recipient will love it and they will not notice your mistakes, I promise! It's much easier to push past your mistakes when the quilt will not be around as a constant reminder of your learning.

(5) Remember: the best machine for quilting is the one you have right now.
My friend Lacey is stipple-quilting her very first quilt! I gave her two rules when I agreed to teach her how to quilt. #1 - She wasn't allowed to use cheap fabrics. #2 She had to quilt her own quilt. :-)

First Quilt
Lacey is working on her very first quilt. Whoo hoo!
Lacey doesn't have all the fancy-schmancy equipment or a drop-in table with tons of room. She purchased a very basic, used Bernina from a local dealer and she doesn't even own a walking foot. In fact, when quoted the price for a new walking foot, Lacey's reply was, "for that amount of money, it should be called a running foot!" :-)

Closeup of large stippling, also called "meandering."
Lacey practiced on a couple of sample scraps to learn the rhythm of her machine, then she jumped right in and gave it a try on her actual quilt. She's quilting on a larger scale, also known as meandering. She picked a bright pink thread that goes will all the colorful fabrics in the quilt. Doesn't it look great so far?

(6) Give yourself permission to make mistakes.
The beauty of machine quilting is in the overall texture that quilting stitches add to the quilt. When you step back from your work a few feet, things look much better than when your nose is two inches away from your stitches. And when in doubt, add more quilting! The best way to hide imperfect stitches is with more imperfect stitches. :-)

Think about it this way - if you are just beginning your journey into quilt-making, then your quilting skills will be at about the same level as your piecing skills. If you challenge yourself to quilt all of your quilts from the beginning, you can improve both techniques simultaneously, one quilt at a time!

Thanks again, Christa!! You are so encouraging and positive! Now it's your turn to share your experiences/goals with FMQ:

SWC Schedule:

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

South: A Mini Quilt

In the midst of the craziness that is holiday gift making, it was refreshing to sew up something so simple, gratifying, and selfish for my new mini quilt wall.

I used the Botanics mini charms my friend Janet so selflessly offered me after she won some Quilt Market swag (at our CJMQG meeting). Really though, aren't quilters the best people around (like, she wouldn't let me give them back to her!)? I joked with her that I had a mile long list of projects to attend  to but that I didn't think I could resist playing with Botanics.

I struggled to find something to do with these mini charms - at 2.5" square, they are not as versatile as I would like (just how I feel generally about mini charms). I definitely wanted them to "vaguely" go in some kind of color order. I don't know about you guys, but typically, I hesitate to do patchwork (mostly because my seams never lined up the way I want them). Well, lo and behold, I took my time and pressed my seams in opposite directions, and all these seams line up, baby. Word.

It was still missing something, so I added in two shades of the bird print from Waterfront Park, and I'm so glad I did that! Then, I quilted in different kinds/sizes of circles, to offset all the angles. I used my FMQ/darning foot for the spirals, and my walking foot for the separating/overlapping circles (see my tutorial here if you are interested). To me, it looks like the birds are flying in circles.

The name came to me suddenly because of the birds: they remind me of their path south in the winter. I'm usually not a happy camper during the winter months and hate being cold, so I guess I wish I could fly south like the birds. However, this mini definitely cheers me up. It signals a "new beginning" for me in a new year of sewing and quilting. It's funny how something so easy and quick has so much behind it :)

Oh, and the mini quilt wall? Here is is :D For now, I am using clear pushpins. They are in the very corners and I don't see how it will ruin the quilts at all - IMHO. :) I plan to post more pics of my apartment this weekend when it is all cleaned up for the holidays. From left to right: "South," "Birds of a Feather" (my Madrona Road challenge), a very special swap Dresden, "Perspective" from Heidi, and two tiny mug rugs I won a while back.

Today we had a snow day, and it's my birthday, so I'm off to have a relaxing and fun day sewing and hanging out with my family! :) Woot!

Linking up to Fabric Tuesday @ Quilt Story, Sew Cute Tuesday @ Blossom Heart Quilts, Crazy Mom Quilts, TGIFF

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Infinity Scarf Assembly Line

It's the only way to get things done that need to get done!

I'm using this awesome tutorial from Fancy Tiger Crafts, with a few alterations. I wanted to get two long infinity scarves (that you can wrap around your neck twice) out of a yard of fabric, so I cut my width to 12.5. This tutorial is so easy and I get to play with voile. Could it be any better? I guess it could be, if I could keep all the scarves. Lol.

Enjoy your Sunday! Hope you are sewing, too. :)  ...and/or baking, like I did today. The stomachache from eating one too many of these was definitely worth it.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

WIP Wednesday

 *Click here for my Sew, Mama, Sew Giveaway!*

I'm scattered with projects this week, just as my brain seems to operate on a daily basis. I'm having trouble focusing on one thing, which is probably due to the fact that the holidays are so soon and there are a million and one things to be finished (and started... gulp).

 I'm just going to leave this one here... because it's been a focus. No further comments at the moment. Soon, though!

I've also been working on bee blocks for the CJMQG. This improv block was so freeing and wonderful - for Carol.

The next block was a challenge for me, and with some in-person help, I think I'm finally "getting" the concept of reverse applique. I think I might have to redo the bigger circle (of course, the first one I did and the one most ridden with wrinkles and "mistakes"). I probably wouldn't redo it if it was just for me, but my friend Sandy is important to me! Maybe when I'm in the right state of mind, since we (that is, applique and I) need a little break. PSA - this picture (and the nighttime) makes the block look worse than it actually is :)

Just to calm myself a bit, a did some (more?) birthday shopping... because Pennington Quilt Works, my LQS, has a birthday club... yay!

I've been eyeing up the shot cottons for a special project involving home decor. The husband is even going to learn to sew for this (I know, right!!?!? Like, he really wants to!), so I had to buy the fabric. See how they shimmer? Omg. I'm 99% sure these are all Kaffe.

I also FINALLY got yardage of Architextures since I realized I am going to be a queen bee in February, and that my blocks require some yummy low volumes. The history teacher in me couldn't resist the green topography-map-like fabric, and the purple/orchid/newsprint Collage is just... stunning. Have I mentioned I'm a bit of a stasher?

Also, at the meeting, my friend Lori showed off the scarves she was making out of AMH flannel for the holidays. At the end of the meeting, she decided to give one to me as a birthday present. That was one of the sweetest gestures ever! She said it's because she knew how much I would appreciate it :) Well, it's true. I am a sucker for AMH. Thanks, Lori! <3 By the way, Lori and I are thinking of doing a Medallion quilt, AMH style next year. Think about joining us?

 Yes, these are pajamas, and yes, I was really cold!

Hopefully I'll gain some semblance of order by the weekend. So, is your week as scatterbrained as mine? 


Monday, December 9, 2013

SMS Giveaway Day!

*This giveaway is closed. Congrats Jodi, number 222 - you're the winner! Jodi has been emailed.*

Welcome to Sew Mama Sew's Giveaway Day! Too. much. fun. If you're stopping by, I know you're looking for the giveaway, so I won't bombard you with my customary mosaic of favorite projects - you can look around the blog if you're so inclined, though :) Right now, I'm leading a series/linky party on Sewing With Certainty - you can check out this post for more info.


I'm destashing a bit and want to help others build up their green stash (though green is on its way out ;) ). 

From left to right: an older but always awesome print - Joel Dewberry's woodgrain (10.5" x 35"), a print from Ty Pennington's Impressions (15.5 x 20"), and a gorgeous bird print from Wrenly by Valorie Wells (full fat quarter - 18" x 22").  I also have a charm pack of Thomas Knauer's Asbury - so summery - you could make a cute table runner out of it if you are feeling cold right now! Lol. :)

Anyway, you have two chances to win:
1. Tell me about the best holiday surprise you ever had (any holiday - whether you were surprised or the surprisee). Mine was a snow on Christmas morning when I was 5. I expect this year's Christmas surprise will be even better - my husband and I will be surprising our nieces in Maine! They don't know we're coming! :D

2. If you're an old or new follower, just leave an extra comment. You can follow me on Bloglovin, Feedly, IG, Pinterest, whatever - just let me know! 

*The giveaway is open to anyone worldwide until 8pm EST on Fri., Dec. 13! I will choose a winner for all the loot via Mr. Random, and I will email you and update this post. If I get a no-reply winner without an email address, I will have to choose again. Please note that I will not be able to respond to all comments, though I usually do!

Thanks and have fun hopping! :) Here's the link to supplies, and here's the link to handmade goodies!


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