Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A Comment a Day in 2012

Have you noticed this button on the right side of my blog?

January is always a tough month for me. It's long, it's cold (well, not this year), I feel isolated. I have this tendency to believe that I have no friends in January. Blah, blah, you get the idea.

During one of these one-woman January pity parties, I started feeling super sorry for myself that hardly anybody comments on my blog, or Flickr photos, or tweets. Every time I post to my Facebook fan page I seem to lose a follower. In truth, it's hard to keep up my blogging momentum without a little feedback, after all, it's human nature to seek positive input. After talking to a few bloggy friends, I learned that they, too, were feeling down about the lack of comments. At least it isn't just me...

Then a thought struck me like a lightening bolt. How often do I comment on other people's blogs? Do I leave love notes on their Flickr photos? Respond to their inquiring tweets? Um, hardly ever. So here I am feeling sorry for myself when really I'm just being hypocritical.

So this year I pledge to be the change I want to see in the world by making at least one comment a day on somebody's blog, Facebook fan page, photo, pin, whatever. I still haven't seen the love come back around to me yet, but it makes me feel good to comment and compliment others.

I think it's fair to say that between blogs, Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and more, we're about to explode from social media overload. Everybody and their Aunt Martha has a blog and they're all vying for our love, adoration, and follows. I totally get it. But I also get that I might just make somebody's day by leaving a thoughtful comment.

Do you want to join me in this challenge? Feel free to grab the button. The only thing I ask is that you not link it back to my blog because this isn't about me - this is about building a stronger online crafting/creative community. Link the button to your own blog post about how you plan to make the digital world a friendlier place.

Thanks for listening. I feel better already!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sunday Stash #5 - Under the Wire

Like many of you, I've got a bit of a Denyse Schmidt fabric obsession. I picked up these teal lovelies at Joann yesterday - they're from her "Daisy Mae" collection. And although they had her new line, Aunt Edna, too, I decided to restrain myself (for now).

I'm digging how the prints look with these vintage buttons.

Yes, these were an impulse purchase, but I'm happy to report that I've already got a plan for them. Or I could just admire them for a year or two (or five).

Happy sewing!

Four's a Charm - Let's start cutting

Have you got your materials together for the Four's a Charm quilt? Great! Let's start cutting!

A quick word about fabric washing before we start. I'm not prewashing any of my fabrics because the charm pack squares can't be prewashed. This is an all or nothing scenario. If you're using scraps that have been prewashed, then please do prewash and press your sashing, backing, and binding fabrics.

Here's the cutting diagram for the sashing/border fabric.

Fold the fabric in half along the length so that the selvedges match up. Make a clean cut along the top edge so that the fabric is perfectly straight (along the grain) using your clear acrylic ruler. Next, cut four 5" long by width of fabric (WOF) strips.

Three 5" x WOF strips cut, one to go.

Now cut three 2.5" by WOF strips. Cut a 10" length from two of the strips - be sure to cut off the selvedge on that end before you make the 10" cut. Now you should have:

1 - 2.5" x WOF strip
2 - 2.5" x approximately 32" to 34" long strips
2 - 2.5" x 10" strips
4 - 5" x WOF strips

Set your sashing and border pieces aside for later.

If you're using a charm pack for the quilt, select the 36 squares/prints you want to use. If you're planning to raid your scraps bin, you'll need to cut 36 - 5" squares so get busy!

In my next post we'll lay out the squares, piece the blocks, and construct the quilt top.

Leave me a comment if you have any questions.


Link to Four's a Charm Page

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Four's a Charm Baby Quilt - Fabric Requirements

Looking for a fun and easy baby quilt pattern? Well, look no further. I call this Four's a Charm because it's four patches made from a charm pack. Get it? Of course you do. Moving on...

This project is ideal if you're new to quilting. I'll give step by step instructions as we go. And please feel free to leave questions or comments.

The finished quilt is 40" square.

Fabric requirements:
  • 36 - 5"squares, either from a charm pack or bust some scraps - I'm using Sherbet Pips by Aneela Hoey for Moda
  • 1 yard Kona Cotton in Coal (you really only need 28", but I rounded up a bit) or sashing/border fabric of your choice
  • 1 1/4 yards backing fabric. Measure the backing fabric. It must be a minimum of 42" wide. If it's not at least that wide, be prepared to piece the back.
  • 1/3 yard binding fabric or you can squeeze by with 1/4 yard if you opt for 2 1/4" binding

You'll also need:
  • Crib size quilt batting. I typically buy the organic cotton kind from Poly-fil/Fairfield
  • Cotton thread
  • A rotary cutter, self-healing cutting mat, and a long clear acrylic ruler
  • Pins
  • Basting spray (I like 505 Spray Adhesive best) or quilting safety pins 
  • If machine quilting, you will need either a darning or stippling foot if you're planning to do free motion quilting, or a walking (a.k.a. even feed foot) if you're planning to do straight line quilting. A 1/4" piecing foot really is really helpful, but it's not a requirement.
  • Oh, and a sewing machine and an iron come in handy, too! ;)

 This pattern is really very simple. It's contrast that makes it interesting. Keep this in mind as you select your block and sashing fabrics. Remember that contrast can be achieved either by pairing complementary colors or via value. For more about this see my post called Color Theory 101. And when in doubt, ivory looks good with just about everything.

Get your fabrics together. We'll start cutting shortly.


Link to Four's a Charm Page

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Sewing To-Do Pile Gets Smaller

This weekend I started to climbed Mount UFO and finished up (or started) some projects that have been on my sewing to-do list for a long time.

First I made a pair of flannel pajama pants using this gorgeous Anna Maria Horner Folksy print. I used New Look pattern #6321, omitted the pockets and skipped the drawstring in favor of a basic elastic waistband. I took 1.5" off the top at the waist because commercial patterns always seem to be designed for people who wear their pants in their armpits. The front could still be an inch or so shorter in the rise. I also took an inch or so off the length of the pants. Despite taking my measurements and matching them up to the pattern chart, the pants are ENORMOUS (there's a reason why you're not getting a full body shot). I look a bit like Charlie Chaplin but at least I'm comfy!

Next up, a new ironing board cover!!

The old cover was so gross. Despite the millions of water stains I didn't dare wash it because it would shrink like crazy.

The ironing board makeover started last fall. I love this ironing board - it's an antique which means it's heavy and super sturdy. But it was also dusty and the paint was crumbling. Would you believe there were five different covers layered up on this thing?

Here's what it looked like before:
 And this is after a coat of plum spray paint:
To make the new cover I used the fabulous twill "Mad Hatter" cheater print from the original Wonderland line by MoMo from Moda. I remember walking into my local fabric store and just freaking out when I saw this fabric (and the others from the line). I had no plans for the fabric, but I knew I had to have it. It's just perfect for an ironing board cover since it's covered in sewing notions - scissors, pin cushions, and yes, irons! I had just enough fabric to make the cover. Destiny, I tell you.

Now I'm planning to finish sewing a top I started (ahem) two years ago.

When that's done I'm going to tackle a UFO a friend gave me. She started making this dress for her daughter but never finished it (and now it definitely wouldn't fit). Look closely. Do you see a problem?

Yes, the print is upside down. So the question is this. Do I go ahead and finish the dress and not worry about the direction of the flowers, or do I rip out the seams and use the fabric for another project? Keep in mind that the dress is made from old Heather Ross Lightning Bugs prints. What would you do???

Friday, January 13, 2012

Woolly Wonder Mittens

Oh, what an exciting week! I spent the month of December designing and writing the Woolly Wonder Mittens sewing pattern for Petite Purls magazine's Sew Petite feature and it was published on Tuesday. The patterns in the winter issue are just astonishingly beautiful and I'm so honored to be included in such amazing company. This is my first published pattern and I couldn't be more delighted.

I hope you will indulge me as I make a few thank you's.

An ENORMOUS thank you to Amy Wurdock for taking such gorgeous photos.
Anne of Flax & Twine and to the editors of Petite Purls for making it all possible.
My dad for his technical expertise.
My sons for being fit models and photo models.
My mom for her endless enthusiasm.
Knittymama for her knitter's perspective.
Treadle Yard Goods for their beautiful collection of wool fabrics and trims.
The lovely Emily who is an excellent model at the ripe old age of 3 1/2.
And to my husband, who took over all the parenting duties while I worked in my sewing room for hours at a time.

Emily and my son Alex

I do hope you'll make a pair of Woolly Wonder Mittens for your child(ren) if you live in a cold climate. These mittens are designed to be worn over another pair of mittens or gloves (preferably hand knitted, of course!). Staying warm in the winter is all about layering - you won't believe what a difference another layer of wool makes when it comes to keeping your kids' hands warm.

Interested in making a pair of these mittens for yourself? Me, too! So stay tuned to my blog because I'll be posting an adult version of the Woolly Wonder Mittens pattern before the end of January. Why not? Grownups like warm hands, too, right?

My son Paul was just a wee bit disappointed that his photo didn't make it into Petite Purls, so I'm posting one (okay, maybe two) of him here.

My super sweet six year old

So what's next? The adult Woolly Wonder Mittens pattern of course, plus another installment of my Color Theory 101 series. I've also got a baby quilt pattern/quilt along called Four's a Charm that I can't wait to share with you.

 Yippee! January is really shaping up. A pattern in Petite Purls, more patterns to come, Project Runway All Stars, and a new season of Downton Abbey. Really, what more could I ask for? Well, maybe just some snow.


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Color Theory 101

Who's up for a quick color lesson? My thread spools have kindly offered to provide the visual aids today.

Let's start with a basic color wheel.

A color wheel provides a visual frame of reference regarding how colors interact.

Colors sitting next to each on the wheel are called analogous. Analogous means similar or like, and I think it's fair to describe analogous colors as liking each other. They get along. They look good together.

Colors hanging out across the color wheel from one another are called complimentary. They're involved in this deep, it's complicated kind of relationship. Despite being total opposites, sparks fly when they get together.

The color wheel is traditionally broken up into three groups. Top dogs are the primary colors. You can't mix a primary color - they just exist. Primary colors are red, yellow, and blue.

The secondary colors are created when the primary colors hook up. You know the score, but I'll repeat it anyway:


Tertiary colors come next. These tend to be my favorites, but don't tell the primaries or secondaries. Tertiary colors are made when you mix a primary and a secondary color sitting next to each other on the color wheel. You end up with a bunch of hyphenated names. It's like the student roster from an elementary school in the early 90's.

and so on, and so on

The color wheel is made up of hues. Hue is a soft, pretty word meaning color.

Hues have values. Not the family kind or the political kind, but the color kind!

Value indicates the lightness or darkness of a hue. Remember, color, like life, isn't black and white, but many shades equivalent to a gray scale.

Speaking of gray...a tone is a color with gray added to it.

A tint is a color with white added to it. Pink, anyone?

Those are the basics. Come to class next week for a discussion about color schemes. In the meantime, if you need extra reading material on the subject, check out Wikipedia's erudite description of the color wheel.

Tired models after an exhaustive photo shoot

Happy creating,

Monday, January 9, 2012

2011 Sewing Recap

I've been seeing these mosaics all over the place lately and decided I just had to make one for myself.

Here's a smattering of what I made in 2011:

Go to http://bighugelabs.com/ to make your own mosaic. It only takes a few seconds to make one from a Flickr set, or you can add photos individually from your computer.

I'm busy working on the a visual aid for my next blog post - Color Theory 101. I hope to have it up by the end of the week, so do check back if you're interested in learning more about color.

Happy sewing,

Friday, January 6, 2012

Have you heard this song?

Quick! I've got to post this video/song before it's so overplayed that I don't like it anymore. It's called Somebody That I Used to Know by Gotye.

What do you think? I love the tune, but the lyrics are also amazing. Just about the most resonating breakup song ever. The video looks a bit modern quilting, don't you think??

Ciao for now,

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Sew Many Resolutions

Happy 2012!

'Tis the season for making resolutions. I thought I would share a few of mine. I hope you'll do the same in the comments. If you've already blogged about your resolutions, please share your blog link in the comments.

Here's my list -

  1. Make more clothes for the kids (especially from that enormous stack of Ottobre Design magazines).
  2. Make slopers for myself. I'm ready for my homemade/handmade clothes to fit me right the first time.
  3. Put a dent into the stash. It's time to use it up (so I can buy more, of course!).
  4. Try paper piecing.
  5. Make a blue and white quilt.
  6. Get over my fear of curved piecing.
  7. Sell my current sewing machine and upgrade to something that suits my sewing style better.
  8. Write more tutorials. I've got a few up my sleeve plus it looks like lots of folks are interested in learning more about pattern grading. I'm on it!
  9. Have five to six quilt patterns written, tested, and up for sale on my Etsy shop by June 1st.
  10. Create a cohesive brand identity for mini mushroom.
I look forward to reading your list of aspirations for 2012.

Best wishes,