Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Snow Days, Sew Days

I've been blessed with not one, but two snow days this week. I am dreadfully afraid of driving in the snow/ice so I've been cocooned in the house. Unfortunately, my husband, unlike me, does not work at a school but at a bank that hardly ever closes EVER, so he had to drive. We didn't get much overall in western New Jersey (only about 3 inches) but the roads weren't plowed here until at least 12 noon today.

Anyway, here's what I've been working on. These improv blocks are the basis of my Cascade Fabric Challenge for the CJMQG (due in March). I used these fabrics for my Gentle Improv Wave pillow (which went to Quilt Market!) and tutorial last year.  Jessica Levitt, a designer for Windham Fabrics and just an amazing all-around person (and one of my quilty best friends) (oh yeah, and she's our founder and current VP), gave out fabric to all who wished to participate. We can use any solids and I have to say that the solids in her collection, especially the light gray, are so versatile. These colors overall aren't my *usual* colors (you know I like my bright and jewel tones) but they are calming and so pretty. I've decided to take the fabrics color by color and lay them out as so. The project is still evolving and I'm not quite sure what the end result will be (Will I cut the blocks further? Will I lay them out on a consistent background or on appropriately colored backgrounds?). That's the best part of quiltmaking IMHO. Sometimes you just don't know what's going to happen!

This weekend I also worked on another garment for QuiltCon! I NEVER in a million years would have thought that by the end of January, I would have three out of at least four solid outfits to wear next month. Especially since I'm still (and probably will be for a while) really feeling my way through this whole garment-sewing thing. For example, this was a really easy skirt that took much longer than planned because I kept getting the elastic twisted up (full disclosure!), but it's all good now! I'll make sure to take real pictures of the finish soon. I have to say, though - rayon is beautiful and gorgeous and soft, but it was very hard to sew with! And yes, I read up all about it, but it just flows. everywhere. nonstop. I also made the full bust adjustment to my Socialite Dress (!!!) muslin and started cutting into my precious AMH voile, so that's in the works, too! Hopefully it won't be too trying.

There's some secret sewing going on here and there, too, but it's secret, so I can't really share. :D I feel like I'm starting 1.1 million projects at the same time right now, and while that makes for lots of choices, it does make it hard to focus on just one.

Linking up to WIP Wednesday.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Teaching updates

This summer, I'll be teaching my Orange Peels and Improv class again at Pennington Quilt Works in Pennington, NJ! I really can't wait to teach this again. I wanted to give my readers a heads up in case you are in the area and interested. Space is limited to 8 people, and registration is open! I added an extra hour to the second session so students could spend more time creating their improv panels.

Orange Peels and Improv
7 Tree Farm Road, Pennington, NJ, 08534 
Monday, July 13, 7-9 and Monday, July 27, 6-9
A class in two sessions (you sign up for both)

 I'm also super excited to teach a modified version of this class at Mid-Atlantic Mod in April. It's sold out, and I believe the retreat is as well. One of my goals this year is to develop another class to teach besides Orange Peels and my Gentle Improv Waves Technique + Pillow class. The descriptions of these classes, as well as the lectures I offer, are all available on my Teaching and Speaking page.

Today, I received my business cards! Yay! I ordered them primarily so I could give them out at QuiltCon. I'll also bring them to all the sewing events I'll be at this year. I chose my orange peels to represent me, and a pretty orange-peel like rainbow design to complement it.

I'm finally feeling better after more than a week, so I've been sewing up a storm (plus, we were snowed in). I'll have plenty to share this coming week!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A Second Sorbetto Top

I don't remember much from this past weekend besides that I was sick and I was productive with my sewing. Granted, I had to take many breaks because my strength was waning (some of these breaks involved naps and Outlander-book-reading), but I got 'er done, plus a couple of secret projects on the side. I realize I look pretty normal in the picture below, but that's not the case, haha. :)

This second Sorbetto top was much quicker than the first. I added 6 more inches to the bottom, so it was more tunic-like (however, it's not really long enough for me to wear just leggings underneath and be comfortable). I didn't really want to make a dress out of this small-print fabric, even thought I had more than enough. The fabric is actually a Lecien lawn from the Sassy Tassel, a great small fabric store that sells lots of out of print modern fabric in Lancaster, PA (I bought it while at Mid-Atlantic Mod last year). I'm glad I have more to use in the future! Plus, now I have another garment to add to my QuiltCon wardrobe.


Yes, I used the sparkly Netorious from Cotton and Steel again for the bias tape... sue me... I love it! I also hand-stitched those buttons on the middle pleat. There are so many different options for varying up your own garments!

This is the best picture of the fabric that I could get. It's really more purple than pink. :)

Sewing is slow-going this week overall due to this ridiculous cold. Hopefully I'll be back to normal tomorrow. It's definitely on its way out.

Linking up to: Fabric Tuesday, Sew Cute Tuesday, Needle and Thread Thursday, Crazy Mom Quilts, TGIFF

Saturday, January 17, 2015

FAL Quarter 1 Goals

Last year, I participated in the Finish-A-Long for the first time. I found it helpful because it kept me focused on one part of year, but also forced me to plan out the rest of the year a bit (and I'm a list lover, so there's another plus).

Quarter 1 Goals:
1. Doe scrap/improv quilt - I want this to be a quilt top, and I want it now! It needs to be quilted, basted, bound, FINISHED. This is a just-for-fun-I'm so excited quilt. I love this one and would even more LOVE to really give it some more attention! I have some ideas swirling around in my head about how to quilt the negative space between the blocks. I just bought a pretty eggshell white Free Spirit fabric to work with. I can't wait to dive in soon. I already have 8-10 blocks!

2. Finish my winter mini quilt - hopefully soon! I'm just figuring out how to quilt it. I've shown some snippets of it on Instagram.

3. Make a Socialite Dress (pattern by Anna Maria Horner) - it's time! I'm flying high because I just finished my second Sorbetto top/tunic. I'm  confident enough to make this dress in time for QuiltCon (I hope). The fabric I'm using is Coordinates in Midnight voile from Field Study (also by Anna Maria Horner). Maybe I'll wear the dress to her class? Or would that be too much like wearing a band's t-shirt to their concert? :D

4. Finish my Sisterhood of the Traveling Quilts quilt! We're starting another round at QuiltCon (which I have to decide about, too) with some more amazing sewists, and it would be great to actually finish this one.

5. Finish my CJMQG bee quilt from last year. I asked my bee mates to make any block using flying geese. This will be a fun one to piece together improvisationally, so I'm looking forward to the challenge.

6. Finally, it would be awesome to finish the Supernova quilt. I want to finish it and use it but it's not number 1 on my list for finishes. There is at least one other that was started before this one. We'll see!

Linking up to:

2015 FAL at On the Windy Side

Thursday, January 15, 2015

A Sorbetto Top

If you follow me on Instagram (@quiltyhabit), you may have seen me "overgramming" (posting constantly) throughout the process of making my first handmade top this week! I was so apprehensive in the beginning and for a long time before this week, but the desire to make some handmade garments for QuiltCon and all the fun sewing events to come this year overcame me. It all came together fairly quickly though - within two days! On the first day, I made two muslins to get the width and length of the top right. The next day, I dove right into cutting up my dearly hoarded Cotton and Steel lawn (the print is Truly Outrageous in Grey by Rashida Coleman Hale).

The first time I saw this fabric, I knew it had to be a top! And I did NOT plan for the gems to line up so perfectly on that front pleat! I decided I probably won't wear it without the belt - I just love it too much with it on! Here's the back (without it):

If you are a quilter or prospective sewist who has no garment sewing experience, such as myself, I highly recommend starting with a very easy pattern. The Sorbetto Top pattern is free, very clear, and simple. I learned how to do all of the following things within a span of 2 days:
  • read a garment pattern (well, at least for now! This one makes sense :) )
  • make bias tape (I prefer the method outlined here at Seasoned Homemaker)
  • use a bias tape maker
  • do an FBA (full bust adjustment - a very clear, picture-full tutorial here at Sew Mama Sew - did you know many standard garments are made to fit a B cup? That doesn't work for me at all!)
  • sew French seams (I got it right about the third time! This tutorial from Craftsy was the method that made the most sense to me)
  • sew darts(my IG friends were a big help explaining that one!)
  • sew a pleat (that was the easiest of them all, and the pattern was especially clear about that)

I chose to make bias tape out of Cotton and Steel's sparkly Netorious fabric, which I seriously need at least 3 bolts of for my eternal use (I used it in yesterday's post, too!). The sparkle is the perfect touch! Today, I was so excited that I prewashed three of my garment fabrics today in preparation to sew with. YAY! Hopefully, this success means many more to come. The plan right now is to make at least one more Sorbetto Top before QuiltCon (since I have all my measurements right! It will be a bit longer too), and then attempt to make my Anna Maria Horner Socialite Dress again. I need to get more muslin for practice though.

I love these sparkly safety pin earrings from Macy's that I bought for Christmas! I'm always looking for great earrings (and if they're sewing related, that's a huge plus). They sell black ones, too, and yes, I bought those, too. :)

Here's my absolutely crazed 10:30 pm Monday night picture of it's-finally-done-omg! I wore it to work the next day and to our guild meeting that night. How nice it was to wear something all day that was super comfortable, pretty, and fit almost perfectly (only the length is still a bit short, even after adding about 6 inches)?

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Roulette: A Mini Quilt

Last night at our January CJMQG meeting, we celebrated the holidays and held our annual Secret Quilter Gift Exchange. 19 members signed up to make something for a secret partner. It's my favorite meeting of the year! I love creating something for one special person in the guild.

 This year, my secret partner was Linda B. She loves blue and green, and her Pinterest board told me she likes the look of modern traditional quilts and low volume. I had already been playing with log cabins for this pillow - thus, a new log cabin creation was born. It doesn't help that there's a #scrappylogcabinqal on Instagram - I'm hooked!

I call this mini "Roulette" because of the quilting - circles and spokes, like a game of roulette. I was craving a different kind of circular pattern than a spiral from the middle. I put my walking foot to work for all of the quilting. I marked the lines but not the circles; I just went for it and it worked out! It's nice when that happens. :D It's bound in gray/black Pearl Bracelets, some solid gray, and sparkly Netorious from Cotton and Steel (I use this fabric all the time and just bought another yard last night. And before you scold me - I had a birthday gift card :) I seriously can't get enough of that sparkle!).


On the back, I combined two blue prints that seemed to go nicely together. I paired them with two somewhat-invisible corners so Linda can hang it up easily.

I also gifted Linda almost all of my leftover Soul Blossoms scraps (Amy Butler) that I had from a fat quarter bundle - my very first fat quarter bundle, actually. She was going to buy some from me, but then I received her as a partner - it was too perfect! She loved her gift! Check out what Kathleen H. made me:

I'm in love! A pouch for all of my notions (I believe it's the Sew Together bag by SewDemented)! I'll use it at our guild sewcial/sewing day on Sunday, and of course, at QuiltCon!! Purple and Dear Stella... she knows what I like! Thank you so much, Kathleen! :)

She sewed FOUR ZIPPERS for me! I feel honored. We had a big joke going last night about who had the most zippers sewn for them and how much love that meant. Lol. :)

Here's Diamond in the Rough, my mini quilt for Amy last year (and what she made me!). I love the family we've created in our guild. :) I'm excited to announce that I was voted President again for this year (I ran against myself, but still excited)! I have so many ideas and plans for our guild - I can't wait to get together with our board and plan for the year. While I'm on the topic... have you seen my post about Why You Should Visit Your Modern Quilt Guild?

Sneak peek - my first garment is done!! More later this week. Euphoria! (P.S. There's that Netorious fabric again as bias tape... it's a disease, I tell you. Those Cotton and Steel ladies know what they're doing.)

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Musings of a Novice Garment Sewist

This weekend, I finally felt ready to dive into garment sewing *for real.* I need to stop buying a ton of voile and rayon fabrics... unless I'm actually going to make something, right? I'm trying the Sorbetto Top by Colette Patterns, which is a free pattern.

When I first tried garment sewing a year ago, my guild friend Amy held my hand through the pattern tracing and cutting.Then, I went home and tried to read the pattern, but I got lost. Garment sewing is like a whole new language to a quilter, and I felt totally out of the loop. I found this book and requested it for my birthday; I've referred to it about 7 times today alone, so it's already been worth the money. If you are a beginner garment sewist, I highly suggest it (this is not an affiliate link or anything- just a book I really love)!

 Working ahead of the game in this picture - I haven't actually cut out the shirt on the *real* fabric yet. I've envisioned this lawn by Cotton and Steel as a shirt since it came out, and it's going to happen!

I'm usually one to dive right into making quilts, sometimes without regard to all sense (I ignore essential questions, like: do I have enough background fabric? Is it so late that I risk falling asleep at the machine, or worse? Do I have any sense at all of what the final quilt will look like?). Garment sewing seems so much more regimented to me; maybe that's why I've been avoiding it for so long. I thrive on the creative and the unexpected (apparently). So far, though, I've found it pretty invigorating. I'm glad that I'm armed with almost 5 years of sewing skills though - that definitely helps.

To make my muslin or toile (a practice version of the shirt), I used some ugly yellow cotton bobbin thread that I won't mind seeing depleted, plus a bunch of super cheap muslin fabric. I even learned what French seams are and how to sew them (woohoo!). It's the little things, right? I'll also practice making continuous bias tape on my muslin.

I finished most of the muslin with the encouragement and help of my Instagram friends (thanks!!). However, I'm adding on 7 to 8 inches to the bottom and I need to widen it, because I am all of the following: tall (5'10"), big-boned, and curvy. The muslin actually fits well, except for the too-tight bust and the extremely short length. I'm hoping to have a finish soon... stay tuned!

The funniest part was that Mike came home from work and couldn't understand where the whole making-a-shirt thing came from. :D Oops... I probably haven't shown him the fabric I've bought...

Saturday, January 10, 2015

January Block: CJMQG 2015 BOM

This year, my MQG is joining in a quilt-a-long developed by the Knoxville MQG! I had pinned the following image a while ago, and I came across it again while sifting through my Pinterest boards, looking for BOM suggestions. I am so excited to get started and (hopefully actually) make one block a month (unlike last year). These modern blocks test your piecing skills and are so versatile. I'll likely lay them out in an alternate grid-like fashion without sashing when I'm finished.


 Next, I scanned my Pinterest Color board for some interesting color schemes. Design Seeds is an amazing design tool to gather inspiration from!

penciled color

I chose a light gray background and these colors:

Obviously, I won't be using all the fabrics here, but I will pull from them. I definitely have plans for that amazing Tsuru crane fabric... *sly grin*. :) When I work on a long-term project like this, I set aside the materials in a flat plastic scrapbook bin. They go on sale at Michael's for about $5, and they are so totally worth a buy!

I finished January's block last week - wayyyy ahead of schedule (they are due at our Jan. or Feb. meeting). It was quite fast - the cutting was the most time-consuming part. The KMQG linked to a partial seam tutorial by Alissa Haight Carlton, which I found to be most helpful. I also decided to pursue a scrappy light gray background (clearly an excuse to buy some more fabric). I can't wait to see what my fellow CJMQGers have come up with!

You can follow our guild's progress on Instagram under the tag #cjmqg, and on our blog (our cheerleader, Neva, is posting). Are you participating in any great BOMs this year?

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Purple and blue log cabin pillow-making

This past holiday season, one of my best friends/former college roommate and I decided to exchange handmade gifts. Kristina is an avid and very skilled crocheter; I knew I'd be lucky to receive anything she made me. In turn, I decided to make a pillow out of strips of her favorite colors to furnish her home office.

I was inspired by my good friend Rachel, who I miss dearly (she moved to Seattle this year - lucky SMQG!). Her Bohemian Rhapsody quilt has always stuck out in my mind as lovelier than words. I experimented with making log cabins out of 2.5" strips. Let me just emphasize how much I wanted to keep this pillow!

I quilted a spiral from the middle, using my FMQ foot. While my circles weren't perfect, I was still pleased with the results.

The back was a bit more of a puzzle. I only had one large piece of the fabric I wanted to use (a navy Denyse Schmidt print), so I couldn't make a full envelope back. Then, I had a brain blast. Since Kristina is also a sewist (she sewed clothes in high school and I taught her how to quilt), I knew she would appreciate a rainbow of selvages.This is the first time I've delved into my overflowing selvage basket after almost 5 years of collecting. I still found myself going all Gollum over them, though.

Luckily, many of my selvages are long, so there's plenty left for me to use in 2015 (I'd love to start a selvage quilt but I haven't been inspired with the right design yet). In any case, the selvages made a pretty pillow back. I definitely want to try this again soon, and maybe write a tutorial for the process?

This was a fun, satisfying project that didn't feel like an obligation. For my beautiful friend, it was worth the time and materials. Check out the lovely purple and gray chevron scarf she made me! It's totally my style and I've been wearing it every day to work!

Oh, and I'm sooo looking forward to all the swaps I've committed to this year with friends! The first is next week at our January CJMQG meeting - it's our Secret Quilter Gift Exchange, elections, and holiday party. I am actually already finished with my swap item, but I can't share even a peek yet! I'm also participating in a mini quilt swap with the lovely Liz at Mid Atlantic Mod and another round of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Quilts. Plus, I need to finish my Supernova Quilt with Karin!

 Finally, I couldn't help taking a bunch of pictures of our bedroom. I just hung up Pixie Sticks, and my husband's Doctor Who quilt and my Improv Wave pillow just fit in so nicely with this purple and blue log cabin experimental pillow... can you tell we love blue and purple around here?


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