Friday, August 31, 2012

Welcome Back to My Newly Improved Sewing Room!

After I wrote this post on my sewing room, I started thinking about some of the "wishes" I had mentioned in the post -- like having more room on my table for cutting and ironing, taking more advantage of vertical storage, etc.  It suddenly dawned on me that I could easily create more possibilites for vertical storage by rearranging the room.  I dug out the measuring tape and starting figuring out the possibilities.  I decided that if I flip-flopped my table and my stackable drawer system, I would be able to add on to the drawer system since the window would no longer be a factor, and I would have the additional bonus of being able to see out the window while I sewed!  Win-win situation!

Here's part of the new and improved layout!  In the old layout, the storage system was in front of the window, and unfortunately blocked part of it, especially when I added baskets on top of the storage!  The sewing table was against the other wall, and was covered with way too many things.  The first thing I had to do was remove a lot of clutter from the room (I'm in the midst of a slew of custom orders, which I'll post more about later, but suffice it to say, the room was a complete disaster! Then, I had to do quite a bit of dusting -- a lot had accumulated in places that were very hard to get to with all of the clutter in the way!  This caused a fair amount of sneezing!
Once I had most of the clutter cleared away, I was able to flip flop the storage unit and table (this was not easy to do in such a small space, but I made it work!).  I was able to put the storage unit right against the corner, once I checked to make sure that I could still access the drawers while leaving the crate bookshelf where it was. (The sunflower quilt is still in the original location, so if you look back at my old post, you can really see how things have moved around!)

I really like the crate bookshelf system, and it worked fine in its original location. I decided to purchase two more crates so I could get even more backing fabrics folded and stored -- these had been in an overflowing basket under my sewing table.  I definitely am at the maximum height here, so although there is a little more room for books and backings, I need to keep these purchases to a minimum in the future!
Here's a view from just inside the door.  This layout actually allows me to use the ironing board in the room when I need to iron tops and backings.  This will make the family happy as they are tired of walking around the ironing board in the kitchen!  The floor space isn't quite enough to layout a quilt, but I can lay out a few blocks here and there when I need to.  The best part is that now I can invest in a few more of my beloved storage drawer units.  I plan to go one level higher, which means I can fit four more units!  Although I've made good use of the drawers, I have some additional fat quarters waiting to be stored, and another row of units will be perfect!  I already purchased one (top left) and put it on top of my two shelving units that used to be on my steel industrial shelving unit (these hold Accquilt dies and works in progress). 
Now I have room on my industrial shelving to store all of my Etsy quilts ready for shipping!  I'm hoping to eventually clear a little more space on this unit (second shelf and fifth shelf) to better maximize its use.  You may also have noticed that my table is now clear enough to work on!  I really thought about what I absolutely needed on the table, and what could be stored away, and I am so happy with the new work area!
It's nice to be going into the new school year with a clean and organized space!  All is not perfect yet, however -- I didn't include the behind the scenes pics of the pile of items that did not get put back in the room yet (trying to weed through these and destash some) or the closet (I need to take better advantage of the vertical space in the closet in order to store the rest of the items!)  Once I purchase a shelving unit for the closet, that should take care of both of those issues!
I'll be sharing pics of some of my custom orders in an upcoming post, and I'll have a post about what caused me to take immediate action on the room redo!  Tune in soon for more on that!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Flying Geese in Central Park!

The first of three custom Central Park quilts has been completed and is on its way to a new home!

I just love working with these fabrics -- they make me so happy!

I haven't made any progress on the triangle trimming for the other two quilts, but I did finish the bindings on two of my California quilt tops. The first is Lucy's Crab Shack by Sweetwater. This one just makes me want to lie on the beach with a good book!

I used a simple patchwork design, which I think sets off the prints beautifully. I am anxious to make another quilt out of these lovely fabrics, however, perhaps in a more complex design. This quilt is now listed in my Etsy shop here.

I also finished a Vintage Modern quilt in my Hip to Be Square pattern. Although I've used Vintage Modern charm squares in a few other quilts, including this one, I finally cut into my layer cake and used the complete collection! I have not tired of the aqua/red color combination, and I love the touches of pink, grey and green that complement the red and aqua in this collection. This quilt is also listed in my shop.

After a little bit of laundry and dishes, I'll be cutting into some Backyard Baby fabric to finish up another custom order. Lots of finishes coming up in the next week, I hope!


Thursday, August 16, 2012

A Visit to Central Park!

Today, I'm visiting Central Park -- in the form of Kate Spain's beautiful fabric collection.  This has to be one of my favorites -- the colors and designs always make me feel happy. These three piles will become three custom order quilts.  The flying geese one (middle) is ready to lay out and sew together.  The other two piles need to be trimmed to exact sizes (a tedious task but totally worth it) before becoming zig zag quilts.  I don't mind having multiple projects going at once, especially when you can cut similar fabrics at the same time -- I love efficiency.  However, the zig zags will be put aside for a few hours while I concentrate on getting the flying geese sewn together and loaded on the quilting machine! Perhaps I'll do some triangle trimming while I watch tonight's episode of Project Runway!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Welcome to My Sewing Room!

Today, Moda Bake Shop is hosting a Show Off Your Stash Link Party, so I thought it would be a great day to take you on a visit to my sewing room.  Although my husband would claim that every room in the house is the sewing room, I do actually have a designated room -- it's very cozy, but functional!  The actual space, which used to be my husband's bedroom when he was young, is only about 6 1/2' by 7 1/2', so I really have to take advantage of vertical storage.  However, even though it's a tiny room, I love how productive I can be in my designated space -- no matter where you sew, it's always an advantage when you don't have to include set up and take down time in your moments of sewing bliss!
My bookshelf is made out of wooden crates purchased at craft stores over the years.  I spent a lot of time organizing this so things are easy to find -- I love quilting books, and these are sorted on the lower shelves by topics (like quilting with precuts) or authors (like Kaffe Fassett).  The fabric you see on these shelves are generally larger yardage pieces, most of which are intended for backings, and these are folded consistently (I use an 8 1/2" by 24 inch ruler to roll the fabric, slide the ruler out, and fold the bundle in half) and sorted by designer!
Just around the corner is my sewing table.  This is a four foot (I think) foldable table from Sam's Club, although it never gets folded up, obviously!  I do like the height for sewing, and hope to someday clear out other parts of the room more so that the table has a little more space for cutting and ironing.  I have enough space on the edge (in front of the clock) for a cutting mat/ironing combo so I use this for quick pressing and trimming as I sew.  When I need to cut or iron large pieces, I do usually have to go out to the kitchen!  I painted the room a sunny yellow when we moved in, and the color (and my sunflowers quilt) really is bright and cheery on even the gloomiest day!)
Even though there is a lot of stuff on my sewing table, I do like the easy access to various rulers and cutting equipment.  This also helps me put things back in the right place after I use them!  I really like these wooden ruler racks -- they don't take up much space, they hold a lot of rulers, and when purchased with a coupon at JoAnn's, they are quite reasonable!
I have a general rule that you can never have too many scissors or rotary cutters, so I have two baskets of those on top of a small baker's rack!  I have a hard time passing up a rotary cutter on clearance!
On the wall opposite my sewing table stands a tall metal baker's rack from Sam's Club.  I bought this about five years ago, and while it took me a while to assemble, I am very happy with how versatile it has been.  You can set the shelves to various heights when you build it, but to change the height, you would basically have to rebuild it!  Most of my shelves are around the same height, but I do have a small one toward the top.  Two of the shelves store quilts for my Etsy shop that are ready to ship!
Another nice feature of the industrial baker's rack is that you can hang things from the shelves with metal hooks.  My husband bought me this Gutermann thread rack as a Christmas present several years ago (it was one of those after Thanksgiving doorbuster deals!) and I really love it since we live in a remote area, and running out of thread is a common problem!  Every time I'm headed to a thread sale at Joann's I write down the numbers of the thread colors I need to replace, and I'm back in business!  These are small spools, so I generally don't use them for piecing or quilting, but they are great for occassional top stitching or for finding the right color for handsewing a binding.
This last area is my favorite thing in the room, even if it blocks the window and rack a bit!  I saw this idea on a scrapbooking blog a few years ago, and it occured to me that it would work great for fabric!  These are scrapbooking cubes purchased individually (on sale, over time!) at Michael's.  Each cube contains 4 drawers (except for the bottom right) and the cubes interlock with one another to create the unit.  You can purchase various combinations of cubes (open shelving, drawers, etc) to create exactly the storage unit you want!
Since I generally like to store my fabric by collection or designer, before I bought the cubes, I had been sorting fabrics in plastic bags and putting them in baskets.  It was so hard to find the one I was looking for, and the fabric was always wrinkly and unorganized.  Now, I label each of the drawers with a designer or collection, and store the fabrics inside!
They are absolutely the perfect size for folded fat quarters!
Jelly rolls and charm packs also store beautifully! (Yes, this is one of my Tula Pink drawers where I hoard special fabrics!)

This sideways picture (sorry!) is of one of  the bottom right drawers, where I keep extra jelly rolls and charm packs.  The bottom drawer holds layer cakes!

I do wish I had more space to build up -- I could definitely make use of a few more drawers - but I guess that also forces me to start using what I have on hand to clear space for new collections.  The drawer labels are easy to remove and change, and I can also move the drawers to different cubes if I want to reorganize the collections.
I guess this would be my sewing room annex -- our back porch houses my quilting machine!  I'm working on the 39 quilt tops I brought back from California (see previous posts on my month of quilt tops!)  I'll be sharing those as I work on them -- not all of them made it on the blog posts yet!

Hope you enjoyed your visit to my sewing room - I need to get back to my latest quilt!
Edited to add: Be sure to check out my recent updates to my sewing room HERE!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

A Month of Quilt Tops: DAYS 23-25: Sugar Pop!

I purchased a couple of layer cakes of the Sugar Pop collection by Liz Scott when it came out a couple of years ago.  I love the aqua blue, chocolate brown and pink, and the designs are fun and fresh.  I started to make one of my Hip to Be Square quilts, but quickly realized that the bold designs and colors needed to be offset with a white background.  Last summer, I used Camille Roskelly's pattern Piece of Cake 2 to make this Sugar Pop quilt:
This was such a fun and fast pattern -- I finished the top in a few hours, and it made a really nice large lap quilt.  I still had lots of Sugar Pop left, so I cut up the rest into charm squares and brought them with me this summer.  My sister divided them up into two color palettes, and I used the two sets to make this pattern by Etsy seller Sweetjane. 
This is a very easy pattern for beginners, as there are not many seams to line up, and 2 charm packs are enough to make a nice sized baby quilt.  The pattern is called "Flowers in The Garden".
After making these two quilts, I still had more five inch squares left, so I mixed the colors together and made another coin quilt!
I know I've gone a little overboard on the coin quilts this summer, but they really are a great way to use up those smaller pieces!  Maybe I need to challenge myself to design an alternative pattern for all my leftovers!

The three quilts look very bright and cheery together!

Friday, August 3, 2012

A Month of Quilt Tops: DAYS 19-22: Holiday Quilts!

I try to make a few holiday quilts for my Etsy store every year, and summer seems to be the best time to work on them, even though it is very unseasonal!  First up is Halloween/Fall.  I had a large bag of leftover scraps from previous projects, so I pieced a bunch of table runners (more on those later), but I did want to make a couple of quilts as well. Both of these quilts were made from scrap packs purchased from Etsy sellers.  The first one started with a bag of 5 inch strips of a Riley Blake Halloween line.

The fabrics were cute, but there wasn't a lot of variety, so I took a trip to the fabric store (I know, torture!) and chose a few coordinating prints to round out the quilt.  The fabrics I purchased were not necessarily Halloween, because I still wanted the adorable Riley Blake prints to be featured, so I just chose some coordinating colors for a simple patchwork quilt.  I had enough leftover squares to make a table runner as well.
The second quilt was made from a box of Sandy Gervais jelly roll strips and squares that I purchased from another Etsy seller's destash.  Originally I thought I would have enough pieces to make one of my Hip to Be Square quilts, but as I was piecing, I realized that many of the strips weren't long enough to cut enough matching pieces for the blocks. 
 I was able to piece 30 blocks, but the quilt still looked a little small.  I trimmed the remainder of the strips into 5 inch pieces and made a piano key border, which turned out really cute.  Once again, I lucked out with just enough to finish the project!
Now on to Christmas!  I brought a fat quarter bundle of Grinch fabrics with me, but had trouble figuring out what to do with them.  Another trip to the quilt store solved the problem -- the new collection of Grinch fabrics includes a panel of rectangles. 
I cut our the panel pieces into identical sizes (Beware of cutting "on the lines" when you purchase a panel, by the way, because they are rarely printed accurately.  Select a size that works for all of the panel pieces, and cut to that size, even if you have to trim the borders of the pieces a little).  I matched each panel rectangle up with a narrow border strip and a wide border strip and made 9 blocks for this cute lap quilt!

I still have Grinch fabrics that I need to play with later this week -- we'll see if I can come up with something creative for the rest of the collection!

Finally, I used this pattern to make a quilt out of Kate Spain's beautiful Flurry fabric collection.
 The "present" blocks went together quickly and easily; the assembly and borders took a little longer, but I do love the overall effect!  I ended up omitting the final narrow white border that the pattern called for because I like the way it looks as is:
I'm hoping to work on some Christmas stockings for our family this week, and I'm thinking that it would be fun to make a table runner our of this "present" block, as well.  Happy holidays!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

A Month of Quilt Tops: DAYS 16-18 Fig Tree Quilts!

(To read about my month of quilt tops journey, click here!)

Today's post is all about Fig Tree Quilts fabrics!  I think the thing I love most about Fig Tree designs are that the fabrics appeal to both vintage and modern tastes -- the designs are classic, but the colors are both soft and contemporary at the same time.  Our bed quilt is made from an older collection, Dandelion Girl, which is still one of my favorites!  I also love the way many of the collections can be mixed and matched together!

The first quilt top I have to share today is made from California Girl, which is very fitting for my vacation!

I absolutely LOVE the colors in this one.  The blue is so pretty!  I went with a very simple design again -- patchwork squares -- made from four charm packs.  (For more on how I lay out the squares to get a good mix of colors, read this post).

Not only does this quilt look great with my Dad's couch, it would go perfectly in my bedroom.  Hmmm -- maybe I need to make a new quilt for myself using California Girl and this pattern.  California Girl was released this spring, so it is still readily available.

The next two tops are from a slightly older Fig Tree Quilts line, Butterscotch and Roses.  I began by cutting five inch squares from the pile of scraps I had.  The color that worried me the most was the chocolate brown -- I was afraid of having either too much, or not enough, and considered omitting it completely.
In the end, I'm glad I left it in.  Most quilts really do benefit from a slight "pop" of color; the trick is finding the right balance.  So, I was very careful in distributing the brown squares in the quilt to make sure they were spaced equally throughout.

See how vintage the floral designs look, and how modern the polka dots look?  I think that's the secret to the vintage modern appeal!  The coral color is so contemporary, and the cream fabrics almost look like they came from an antique quilt -- such a great mix!
And from the leftover pieces, another coin quilt! 
 PS: A big thanks to my sister and my niece -- they ironed these quilt tops so I could actually get some nice pictures of them!