Thursday, October 27, 2016

October

October Tree

trees

pillow

cabin

guthrie

Good day to you all! It feels like it's been forever since I've been here. I've had a busy couple of months.

Sara and I sold all of our Halloween kits (!) which was a surreal experience for me. Never before have I felt so excited and terrified. Each time I make something, to give away or to sell, I feel like I'm offering up a piece of my heart. It's a humbling and scary and wonderful experience!

Sara and I are planning our next big project: Christmas and Winter kits. I've been test dyeing and we've picked our new colorways. I can't show you anything right now but I'm so, SO excited about these! I'll be spending ALL weekend dyeing these up, I can't wait!

I've been quilting a bit but not as much as I should be. Dyeing has taken up most of my weekends but I will have more free time starting in November. I have two quilts I want to finish by the holidays and I'm pretty sure I'll be able to make it. And after that, it's back to stashbusting!

Ian and I went up north last weekend and the weather was absolute perfection. No leaves left on the trees but that's okay, we have plenty left here in the city.

Mostly I've been enjoying my early morning and evening walks. I've been working late which leaves me very little time in the evenings to do much else. My friend Jen sent me a lovely Halloween pillow which is just about all the Halloween I've had time to enjoy. I don't even have it in me to watch a full movie these days which is sad because Ian and I like to watch "scary" movies in October.

My friend Linda and I did manage to make it to the Guthrie Theater to see Sense and Sensibility one night. It was so fun, having some friend time AND a night out!

I feel like there's more to tell but that's all I can think of right now. If you want to keep up with more day to day action, I'm on instagram now. I'm enjoying the ease of posting little things that wouldn't normally make it onto the blog.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Halloween Giveaway!

Sara and I wanted to do a little giveaway to celebrate our first collaboration and Halloween kit sales.

Halloween Giveaway

If you want a chance (or many chances) to win this darling Halloween project bag (made by Sara) and mini skeins (hand-dyed by me!), please visit Sara's website for details.

Halloween giveaway

Also, I wanted to take a minute to thank everyone who bought a kit from us over the past few days. I'm just so, so grateful that there are people out there who think our work is special and wanted to support our new endeavor. That is truly a great honor and I'm so thankful!

Friday, September 16, 2016

Stashbusting - Bags

I love handmade bags! I don't really like making them but I love using them. They're so pretty and sturdy and reusable and they make great gifts when I can stand to part with them. Well, actually, I guess I just assume that people like getting bags as gifts. I could be totally wrong here!

Knitting, grocery, gift, zipper, drawstring...they're just the best. And they're a really great way to do some stashbusting. Usually I make bags out of fabrics I just never seem to use in quilts...large prints or colors that don't seem to "go" with anything. Or how about those home dec fabrics you ordered by accident because you thought they were quilting fabrics? I've done that a lot...

The bag I make most often is the Jane Market Bag by Alicia Paulson. I've made at least a dozen throughout the years. Sometimes I make the pocket, sometimes I skip it. Depends on how lazy I'm feeling. I even made a quilted patchwork version for Ian for his birthday this year.

bag

I love this bag because it's the size of a paper grocery bag and can hold SO much! Like, so much that your hands hurt after carrying them into the house. Like, half gallons of grapefruit juice, orange juice, a couple of boxes of rice milk and a cantaloupe on top in one bag heavy (Ian carries that one!). Alicia recommends using some stiff cardboard in the bottom of the bags and I agree. It really helps stabilize your items. I buy bookboard from my local art store...it will never bend, no matter what you put in there!

bag38

The other bag I make most often is my reversible drawstring Ballet Bag. I've started using these bags instead of gift wrapping. The size in the tutorial is good for a lot of things but it's easy to make smaller or larger bags as necessary. It's my goal this year at the holidays to only use fabric bags for gifts, no paper at all.

bag35

I know there are tons of other bag tutorials out there but since I dislike making bags so much, I've never tried them so I can't recommend any. If you have a favorite bag tutorial, feel free to link to it below.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

knottygnome crafts / Sonnet of the Moon Limited Edition Halloween Kits

You all know how much I love knottygnome's project bags, right? I feel like I talk about them all the time because they are my absolute favorite bags for my knitting projects. And of course, Sara herself is wonderful and it's because of her that I started dyeing yarn, my newest obsession.

And so, I'm sure you can imagine how thrilled I was when Sara asked me to collaborate with her on a project. I'm so very proud and excited to show off what we've come up with: limited edition Halloween kits! Each kit comes with a knottygnome project bag, a skein of my hand-dyed sparkle yarn and a stitch marker/progress keeper set.

knottygnome crafts / Sonnet of the Moon Limited Edition Halloween Kit

Sara and I came up with this really great colorway called "Witches' Brew". It's a combination of murky greens on a white sparkle base with black and orange speckles. There are only 8 skeins of this colorway and I won't be dyeing it again...it's special, just for this kit.

knottygnome crafts / Sonnet of the Moon Limited Edition Halloween Kit

knottygnome crafts / Sonnet of the Moon Limited Edition Halloween Kit

Sara also made these adorable stitch/progress markers to include in our kits. You guys, I LOVE these! Aren't they perfect for Halloween knitting?

knottygnome crafts / Sonnet of the Moon Limited Edition Halloween Kit

We're selling these kits in Sara's shop starting Friday, September 16 at 10:00 AM Eastern time. The listing preview is up now if you want to check it out. http://knottygnome.storenvy.com.

I just have to say, this is a very big deal for me. My yarn (if all goes well) will soon be out there in the world! It's quite an exciting idea and time for me! I just wanted to give a quick thanks to all of you reading out there. I would not have had the courage to try this new project without your support and encouragement. Thank you!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Court Dance

Court dance is a fun little quilt, cut from fabric leftover from my Golden Vanity quilt. While I had the fabrics out last year, I cut a bunch of 8" squares and stashed them away for a future quilt top.

CP3

I also kept all of the 8" strips leftover from cutting the squares. I'd planned to put them back together in rainbow order for a quilt top someday.

CP1

When I found the squares and strips again, it made sense to put them together into one quilt, a quilt with two fronts, both sides fun and different.

CP8

This quilt is named after the court dance at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival. This used to be the highlight of my days out at fest. There was this dance they always did, a large circle of couples twirling around, changing directions, smiling, flirting. The dance ended with the gentlemen twirling the ladies to their next partners, their skirts flashing in the sun, sparkling, a swirling rainbow of silk and velvet. That couple would start the dance anew, over and over, the lady would twirl to the next partner, skirts like bright jewels glittering in the autumn sun.

CP7

I made this quilt for my friend Sara. I really wanted to make her a quilt because Sara is a quilter. We quilters are always busy making things for other people and rarely do we receive quilts as gifts. My friend Jen made a quilt for me a few years ago so I know firsthand how special it feels to receive a quilt as a quilter.

CP6

Anyway, this is my 11th quilt finish for 2016. I'm still planning to finish 5 (possibly 7) gift quilts before the end of the year. 3.5 months...I need to get my butt in gear!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Stashbusting - Temptations!

When I started thinking about stashbusting to the max, I was pretty confident that I wouldn't buy any fabric. It's been a while since I've been tempted by a new fabric line and if something did happen to catch my eye, I'd usually forget about it after a day or two.

And then a few weeks ago I was on instagram and saw this Joie de Vivre print:

fabric 3

Gasp! Did my heart love till now?!

I knew right then that I had to have it. HAD TO! As in, if I didn't buy it, I would regret it forever. Okay, maybe not forever in a Heather Ross Mendocino or Tula Pink Neptune kind of way, but almost.

And so, I bought it. I knew full well I was breaking my solemn vow and I didn't feel one bit of remorse. And here's why: after 7 years of quilting, I know enough of myself to know a heartbreak fabric when I see it.

And that is why I must now admit my folly: I had completely forgotten about true love fabrics and how sometimes they find you at inconvenient times. Usually right after you make a stashbusting vow!

A prime example: Sandi Henderson, designer of my very first true love fabric, just released a new line of fabrics after years and years. I honestly thought she was out of the fabric designing business but thankfully I was wrong. I could NOT let this fabric pass me by. But, I only bought the prints that I absolutely loved.

fabric 1

And you all know my obsession with Moonrise Kingdom, right? So, I saw this fabric the other day and knew it was THE perfect fabric for another Moonrise Kingdom quilt. I created this little bundle and bought it right away. I'm so glad I did because now the Camping Supplies print is sold out!

fabric 2

So, I've been doing a bad, bad job of not buying fabric. I will admit that. But, I don't feel like this is a setback. You'll notice that these are all fabrics I LOVE. You'll also notice that in no way was I tempted to buy every print in the fabric line. I just bought the few that I couldn't live without. And, I was not tempted to keep adding fabric to my order until I got free shipping. I avoided all these temptations which I think is a major accomplishment.

So, if you are stashbusting, let me share my tips for avoiding temptation and responsibly adding fabric to your stash during this time.

How to avoid temptation:
-do not shop for fabric (obvious but really hard to remember sometimes)
-if you must buy fabric, buy only true love prints
-if you must buy true love prints, buy a reasonable amount, like, only what you think you'll use in one quilt or a reasonable amount of time (for me, this is 1/2yd; sometimes I'd prefer 1/4yd but that's not always an option). Remember, you are stashing/stashbusting, not hoarding!
-if you can, try to keep the fabric in your cart for a day or two before purchasing. Chances are good that you'll put back a print or two (or not buy any at all) after taking some time to think about it.

The following are NOT true love prints:
-basics/staples
-novelty prints that are cute but never seem to get used (you might actually use these, I usually don't)
-colors that your stash shows you never use (seriously, I have enough pink!)
-every print in a fabric line because, you know, they all go together even though, separately, you don't even really like some of the prints
-fabric you wouldn't normally buy but it's on sale!
-prints that you add at the end to fill up a flat rate envelope or to get free shipping

Hopefully that helps you on your journey to stashbust to the max (or to whatever level you're hoping to achieve). You WILL be tempted to buy fabric. My advice is to resist most of it but don't deny yourself a chance at true love. Some fabrics come along just once in a lifetime.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Stashbusting - Bindings

Do you forget about bindings until you're done quilting and then are all like "what the heck am I going to do about binding this thing?"

Because I do! I don't know why because it's a pretty important/obvious part of the quilting process. But, most times, that's exactly how it happens. Sometimes I'll have what I need in my stash, sometimes I buy fabric to match.

Bindings take 1/2yd to 1yd of fabric depending on the size of the quilt. That makes bindings a great stashbusting opportunity, especially since you have to do it anyway.

I love using solids for bindings (red seems to be my favorite):

binding3

hsc12

Or solids accented with prints if I don't quite have enough (sometimes I add in a print even if I DO have enough, I just love how it looks):

paris4

Nicey Jane Quilt

My new favorite binding is gingham (or other plaids) cut on the bias. It takes a little more work to cut and I have to take more care when I handle it so it doesn't stretch but I think it's totally worth it.

lake quilt

Moonrise Kingdom Quilt
I didn't have to bias cut this one since the plaid was diagonal to begin with.

I'm pretty particular about my bindings matching the quilt. Binding is the frame, it ties everything together. The wrong fabric could just ruin a beautiful quilt, right? Maybe not, I guess we'll see what happens when I get to that point. I'm actually kind of excited to try a scrappy binding and also maybe a contrasting binding. Can I bring myself to do it? I might not have a choice.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Kaleidoscope

kal quilt

Do you remember Don't Call Me Betsy's Kaleidoscope Quilt Along from way back in 2011? I do because I actually joined it and actually finished the quilt top in a timely manner. It was the summer I turned 30 and I was laid off of work for three weeks because of the MN government shutdown. It was the best three weeks of my life! It was super hot and muggy outside the whole time so I just stayed in, sewing all day, every day!

kal quilt 2

At some point between 2011 and now, I decided that the quilt top was too small and, even though I can't actually remember doing this, I added a piano key border around the whole thing. I'm so happy I did because I think the border really finished the quilt. I'm not usually into borders but I really think this quilt just needed one. That and it's now large enough to use on the bed!

kal quilt3

The back is this really great Valori Wells flannel and since I wanted it to be a light summer quilt (haha, I know, flannel is not a summery fabric), I skipped the batting.

The binding is my favorite, bias cut gingham, in orange no less! How cheery! I didn't have quite enough so I filled in the gaps with a peachy orange Kona cotton...Mango, I think?

kal quilt5

I'm keeping this quilt for myself because it reminds me of an old wooden loveseat we used to have in our backyard growing up. It had big puffy cushions and my mom made the covers out of a vintage sheet, all yellow and orange, flowers and butterflies. The fabric was worn smooth and soft through years of use and it always felt cool on hot days. In the summertime, we'd lounge around in the shade under the tree and read books. I remember that I was sitting on this couch when I learned to embroider, a unicorn kit that my aunt brought for me one day, just because she thought I might enjoy it. That was the very start of it all: my love for sewing, reading, lounging, sun falling through leaves, cool summer breezes. And this quilt feels like that...a kaleidoscope of memories...and that's exactly what I wanted.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Stashbusting - Quilt Backs

For me, I think the fastest way to use up my stash is to make quilt backs. I used to only back my quilts in flannel which used up zero quilting fabric.

Each quilt back takes 3-5yds of fabric which should start to add up pretty quickly. This weekend I sewed 5 quilt backs and although I didn't see a visible reduction on the shelves, I know I probably used up 15-20yds of fabric. That's a great start!

Depending on your top and your stash, there are a ton of great ways to use up fabrics on quilt backs.

Large pieces:

kg4

If you have 3-5 yds of a print in your stash, you can usually make an entire quilt back with just one seam. Smaller/baby quilts often just need one piece.

Audrey's Quilt

I really love the clean look of just one fabric, especially if the front of the quilt is very busy or has lots of seams. But, since I'm not buying new fabric, I'll soon run out of large cuts and this type of backing won't be an option.

Large-ish pieces:

ET3

Anything in the 1/2yd to 2yd range will make for a super fast quilt back.

Medium pieces (or variety of sizes):

blue2

fly the flag quilt

la carlotta3

Scrappy or organized, these backs take longer to piece but since there are more seams, they actually use up more fabric.

Combo:

Moonrise Kingdom Quilt

Yardage plus scraps is actually my favorite way to back a quilt. I love the simplicity of the yardage plus the fun pop of color and interest from the scraps. Here are a couple more quilt backs that I love.

Double-Sided:

Castle Peeps QuiltCastle Peeps Quilt

Who says a quilt has to have an interesting front and a plain back? Why not make a quilt with two unique and interesting sides? Sometimes I try to use scraps from cutting the front to create a totally new quilt top, a top that I usually end up liking better than the first. So, why not pair these two quilt "tops" together? I like the challenge of using up scraps and coming up with a second quilt design with the same fabrics.

Another option would be to pair up two completely different quilt tops (color, styles, etc.) that are similarly sized. I like the idea of two totally different quilts taking up the space of just one quilt, especially since I have a very tiny house. I haven't tried this yet but I might (I like things to match so this kind of freaks me out a bit). The key, I think, would be to pick a binding that compliments both sides.

I'm going to focus on sewing up backs for all finished quilt tops and once that's done, I'll post another picture of my stash. Hopefully we'll be able to see a difference!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Stashbusting - Priorities

So, we all know I have a lot of fabric and will be able to make a ton of quilts with it. But, if I go about this stashbusting thing without at least a bit of a plan, I might end up with more challenges than necessary.

First, I need to take stock of finished quilt tops and think about what kinds of fabrics I'll need to finish them. Do I have appropriate (in my world that means matching) fabrics for backing and binding? Some of my quilt tops are really old and I don't have many of those fabrics anymore. But if I do (or if there are other good color matches), I will probably want to set those aside to use in the backing or binding.

After that I need to plan for any projects or quilts that require large cuts of fabric. I'd better make them or reserve the fabric now before those pieces get cut up into bits.

log cabin top

This quilt top, for example, was one I made years ago and I have very few of the original fabrics left to use for the back. Fortunately, I found this really great Heather Bailey print that matches well. I might not want to work on finishing this quilt right away but I'll make the back and binding now and then store it with the top.

This weekend I'll be making quilt backs and doing some quilting. I'll be back next week with ideas for ways to use up a fabric stash as well as a finished quilt of two. Why can't it be Friday already??

Monday, August 8, 2016

Stashbusting - Why?!

Alright, first things first: why am I doing this?

There are three main reasons. First, I feel I simply have too much fabric. Not just space-wise, the amount of fabric I have is cluttering my mind as well as the sewing room. I feel overwhelmed, I'd like to use some shelves for other things but I can't because there's just so much fabric. I don't want my stash to feel like a burden and sadly, I feel like that's what it's become.

fabric stash3
I tuck my scissors, rotary cutter and tape measure in one of the scrap bins when not in use. I'd really love to have a dedicated shelf for my most frequently used tools and rulers.


Second, I would like to buy pretty new fabric but I can no longer justify doing so while my shelves are bursting at the seams (plus, I did spend a disgusting amount of money on the fabric I already have). I loved all these fabrics when I bought them and now they sit, neglected. And when I say neglected, I mean it: some fabrics have been untouched so long that they have faded along the fold. That's bad! I don't have the space in my tiny house to store fabric I'm never going to use. So, I can either use it or give it away. I'm choosing to try to use it: to finally work with my long hoarded favorites, to make useful and pretty things for other people and to make room in my house for new fabrics that are more my style these days.

fabric stash2
This is my much hoarded Heather Ross and Tula Pink fabric collection (plus some Erin Michael's Lush reprints, love those!) Also lurking on the shelves are some wips, some Liberty of London fabric that I just bought on my trip and some giveaway prizes, more info on that soon.


The third reason is one I always seem to forget: I'm more creative when I'm forced to use what I have. I love the idea of making do, of using up every last bit. I love the challenge, I love how an original idea morphs into something new, all because of what I do or don't have available to use. I feel free, I can be myself, wing it, go with my gut, go with my heart. It's exhilarating! And because of all that, those kinds of quilts are always my favorite, both the process and the product.

Later this week I'll talk about some of my plans for stashbusting. I'm already feeling quite inspired!

Friday, August 5, 2016

A New Goal

For the past year and a half I've focused on changing bad habits, one of which is my inability to finish any project I start. Turns out, if you want to finish something, you just have to work on it until it's finished. Obvious, right?

And so I focused and worked hard and set monthly goals and finished 27 quilts in 18 months. Some were new from scratch but most were wips or finished tops. And the best part: I gave 20 of those quilts to friends and family.

It took 18 months but I finally feel like a finisher. I like to get things done, I like to give things away, make room in my tiny house. It all feels really, really good.

And that's why I've decided to kick it up a notch, to set a new goal. It is neither original nor sensible but I want to try anyway: I want to use up all my quilting stash before buying any more fabric. That's right, I'm stashbusting to the max!

I will get into the how's and why's later. For now, I'll just say that it's exciting to have this new goal. It's already sparking new ideas and making me look at my stash in a new light. And best of all, this goal goes nicely with finishing things up!

To get things started, this is my entire quilting stash as of today, not including wips:

fabric stash

Not pictured: a 10(ish?) yd bolt of Kona white and a 10 yd bolt of Nicey Jane: Hello Roses. The white bins are filled with scraps sorted by color. The bins on top of the shelves are filled with yarn and the drawers below have paper and miscellaneous things, no fabric though.

This is the only space I allow myself to keep fabric and as you can see, it's just about maxed out. And I have nowhere to put my cutting tools or rulers or anything. I'm so excited to start freeing up some space. This is going to be fun!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

La Vie en Rose

paris1

Since I was a little girl, I've dreamed of going to Paris. To see the Eiffel Tower, to walk along the Seine eating a croissant, surrounded by lovely songs played on lovely accordions played by lovely Frenchmen.

This summer, my dream finally came true! Ian and I, along with his parents, sister and niece, spent a week in London followed by a week in Paris. It was such a fun time!

paris2

Before our trip, I wanted to make a quilt for our almost 5 year-old niece who just so happens to be obsessed with the Eiffel Tower. I pulled scraps from the Bon Voyage quilt, added in some Liberty that I bought last time I was in London and purchased a few fleur de lis and Eiffel tower prints to round out the colors and theme. The back is an Eiffel Tower print by Michael Miller.

paris3

The pattern is Penny Patch by Rachel of Stitched in Color. It is such a great pattern and shows off the fabric beautifully!

paris4

Olivia loved her quilt and shows it to everyone who comes to her house. I'm so happy Olivia and I could see the Eiffel Tower together, to have our dreams come true. And I'm happy she has this quilt to help remember our trip together. I know I'll never forget it!

eiffel tower2