Sunday, September 30, 2012

Checking In...

It's been another quiet week on the blog -- this time, there was a lot less quilting going on, and a lot more driving to soccer games, appointments, etc!  However, I do have a couple of finishes to share.
This was a custom order request that began with a lampshade and a sea-themed nursery.  The challenge was to create a quilt to match the lamp (pink, aqua, green) and coordinate with the nursery (purple, yellow and lavendar).  I was a little stumped on what fabric to use, until I remembered the brand-new collection by Chez Moi called "Coquette".  The colors were perfect, and I was able to add in some of Sarah Jane's "Out to Sea" anchors fabric in pink and yellow.  I also appliqued a sea horse

And an octopus:
For the octopus applique, I used this tutorial.  I really liked the design of the octopus -- not too scary, and not too cartoony.  I did enlarge the pattern a bit so the applique would occupy a large corner of the quilt.  It feels good to have this project (almost!) done -- I still need to sew on the binding.  I dragged my feet on it a bit because I was second-guessing fabric choices for the applique, but in the end, I chose Kona solids in colors that coordinated with the Coquette fabrics.

The second finish of the day is this Reunion pillow cover, made to match another custom order Reunion quilt!
 I love the way it turned out.  Everytime I make a pillow cover, I feel like dropping everything else and playing with scraps to make a bunch more pilllows.  They are so addictive!  I did manage to move on to the other proects that needed doing, but I do see myself revisiting this pillow design sometime in the near future!
Let's hope this week is a bit calmer than the last one was so I'll have more quilty things to share!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Projects to Share!

I know it's been quiet on the blog this week, but I had one large custom project to finish that required all of my concentration!  The good news is that it is DONE and on its way to a new home in Canada!\
This quilt is based on my When the Stars Align pattern, which I have to say is my favorite of all the ones I've designed.  It's also the most time-consuming to make because of all the half-square triangle blocks involved.  Not a difficult task -- just labor intensive!  This is the first full/queen size quilt I've made from the pattern, and it was basically like making 2 1/2 lap quilts!  (The lap size version has 12 blocks -- the full size has 30 star blocks!)  30 star blocks translates to 360 half square triangles!  Once I finally got the pieces made and the top sewn together, it took several hours to quilt, and several episodes of Project Runway to bind!
I love the way it turned out, and I'm dying to make the pattern in so many other fabric collections, but that will have to wait until I catch up on some unquilted tops!
So once this quilt was dropped off at the post office, I found myself in a brief "custom-order free" state!  I actually have one more custom quilt in progress, and two more orders in the planning stages, but since I am waiting for additional materials for the one in-progress,  for the first time in weeks I was able to work on any project I wanted to! 
This "Children at Play" baby boy quilt was a quick, easy finish!  The top was already done, and the quilting went fast -- I just need to bind it later this week.  I'm super happy with this one -- the colors are so nice, and I found flannel fabric for the back in the same orange bicycles print.  
I was so anxious to keep quilting that I quickly loaded this vibrant top on the frame.  I wasn't a huge fan of the "Terrain" collection by Kate Spain when it first came out, but it is really growing on me!  I always love her fabrics, and I have to admit that the colors in this collection were fun to work with.  I found this pattern on the Moda Bake Shop called "Charming Stars" and decided it would be fun to use a purple solid for the stars.  I also omitted the sashing strips, and I like the way the stars "float"among the charm squares. 
This quilt did use up the last of my batting stock, which has been seriously depleted by my custom orders!  I buy batting on the roll through Joann's online.  Since we live in a remote area, this is so much easier than waiting for a sale and stocking up so I don't run out.  I always use Warm-N-Natural, and the roll (40 yards!!) is a good deal with a coupon or a sale price.  Usually the giant box arrives on my doorstep within a week.  I finally purchased a new roll a few days ago, but other than the piece I set aside for this week's custom order,  I'm totally out until the new roll gets here!
However, I do have a bit of Dream Green recycled batting on hand, so I think I'll be loading the remake of my Lorax quilt later tonight.  I really do like the Dream Green batting, but I don't usually use it for my Etsy quilts since it doesn't crinkle up in the wash as much as the cotton batting.  When I made the original Lorax quilt last spring, I decided the Dream Green was the perfect match -- it is actually made from recycled soda bottles.  You would never know it, because it is so soft, and is very similar to the feel of the Warm and Natural before washing. 
I finally managed to finish the binding on this fall quilt (made from Sandy Gervais fabrics), and build the additional storage crates I bought from Michaels last week for my sewing room.  The additional vertical storage helped me clear up other areas of the room even more.  I also purchased and built a shelving unit for the closet, but I am still sorting through the things that need to go back in there. All in all, it was a very productive and fun weekend!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Stash Hoarding, Day 5: It's A Hoot

Today is the final day of my Stash Hoarding Top Five list, although I think I should include some "honorable mentions" later this week (let's face it -- I hoard a LOT of fabric!).

There are certain fabric designers whose work I would buy sight unseen, just because I've loved everything they've done. Momo (for Moda Fabrics) is one of them. The first quilt I ever sold on Etsy was made from Momo Wonderland fabric:

I've made and sold at least 5 or 6 of these quilts, and stocked up on quite a bit of Wonderland along the way. I think I'm over the hoarding of it, however -- I had the opportunity to add some to my stash this week and chose not to! The next collection was Freebird, and I thought this one was a lot of fun, too. The first quilt I made in it sold very quickly:

I made a couple of other Freebird quilts, but decided to try separating the bright colors with a neutral fabric. I do really like the way the solid sets off the wild fabrics.

This spring, I made a Freebird circles top for one of my customers who likes to handquilt:
I loved this one so much that I'm working on one for my store!
The next collection that Momo produced was It's a Hoot, which is the subject of today's hoarding post:
I've actually only made one It's a Hoot quilt. It sold so quickly that I never even got a picture with the binding finished. Since then, I've purchased a lot of It's a Hoot fabric with the intention of making follow up quilts, but the fabric just seems to collect in a drawer. I have charm packs, layer cakes, and yardage -- definitely enough for several quilts! I'm not sure why this one keeps getting pushed aside, but I still keep buying those precuts whenever I find them!
It's definitely time to revisit this collection and make some quilts, and then maybe I'll have a chance to make some out of the other Momo collections (I have an unopened fat quarter bundle of Just Wing It, a brand-new layer cake of the brand-new collction "Oh Deer", as well as several charm packs of Half Moon Modern). I've got a few more custom orders and many unquilted tops to make a dent in before I make good on this pledge, but I WILL use up some It's a Hoot this year!


Friday, September 14, 2012

Stash Hoarding Day 4: Bliss

In my mailbox this afternoon was the perfect example for this week's topic: stash hoarding!

For Day 4 of my week of stash hoarding posts, I have chosen the collection Bliss by Bonnie and Camille for Moda fabrics. Although this is not their first collection, it is the first in their series of red, pink and aqua collections.

I purchased a Bliss layer cake (10 " squares) as soon as the collection was released a couple of years ago. It is such a pretty palette -- who doesn't love pink, red and aqua?! I sold at least 2 of these lap size quilts, and then I received a custom order to make a full size version:
The thing I love most about Bliss is how nicely it interacts with their next 3 collections: Ruby, Vintage Modern and Marmalade. Last January, I did a custom order using selected fabrics from both Ruby and Bliss:
I've even received an order for custom valances to match a Bliss quilt:
When Vintage Modern arrived, I used some Bliss, Ruby and Vintage Modern charm squares to make this simple patchwork design.
Bliss can still be found; although some of the prints are very hard to find, and the precuts (layer cakes, charms squares, etc) are very scarce. So, I don't necessarily hoard Bliss and not use it -- but I feel the need to replace some whenever I use it!
The final hoarding post may be delayed by a day or two -- we will be on the road to Grandma's tomorrow night, so I may not post until Sunday. Have a great weekend!


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Stash Hoarding, Day 3: Neptune

Anyone who is a fabric connoisseur will not be surprised to see my third entry in my week of stash-hoarding posts: Tula Pink's widly popular collection for Moda Fabrics, Neptune:

This collection was released right around the time that my style was changing from "traditional" to "modern". It definitely appealed to me, but I wasn't purchasing a lot of precuts (layer cakes, jelly rolls, charm packs) at the time (otherwise I definitely would have stocked up!) I'm almost positive that my first Neptune quilt was made from a clearance priced layer cake. (This was also when I used to make my kids hold the quilts up for Etsy pictures!)

I had two Neptune quilts for sale in the early days of my shop. The second one was made from a honey bun, and included some floral appliques. I was testing out some additional pattern ideas at the time, and I'm pretty sure I bought the honey bun on clearance, too.
This striped honey bun quilt prompted my first ever custom order. Less than two months after I opened my shop, a lovely woman in Australia contacted me about remaking this honey bun quilt as two matching twin size quilts for her girls. I was able to make the quilt on a larger scale by using jelly rolls (2 1/2" strips) and adding borders. She was thrilled with how they turned out, and I was so grateful that someone halfway around the world would trust a new Etsy seller to take on such a project!
I knew the collection was becoming scarce at the time-- I bought one jelly roll right away, but had to do quite a bit of searching to find the second one. There was still a bit of yardage to be found, and by the time I finished the quilts, I had begun a little stash of Neptune. I even kept most of the smaller scraps, and earlier this year, I finally went through the bag and made a few pillow covers:
To be perfectly honest, my hoarding issue extends to all of Tula Pink's fabrics, especially her earliest collections. I have a couple of Nest and Flutterby precuts that I haven't found the perfect project for, and I always snatch up Hushabye when I see it. It looks like her upcoming collection Salt Water might be a bit of a tribute to Neptune, judging by the teaser picture on her blog!
I've got a little more work to do on custom orders before I head off to bed -- hope you'll join me tomorrow for Day 4 of my Stash Hoarding week!


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Stash Hoarding, Day 2: Authentic

This week, I am doing a series of posts on the top five fabric collections I love to hoard! I am a huge fan of Sweetwater's fabrics, but my favorite of those by far is their first collection for Moda, entitled "Authentic". This was one of the first quilts I made for my Etsy shop, and it was the second quilt I ever sold. I just love the color palette of black, grey, cream and green. It is simple, yet striking, and it always looks so modern and fresh.

I wish I had a bought a bolt each of the black polka dot, and the green text print! Love them!
I've remade the original quilt a total of three times; each time, it has sold quickly!
I even made a tumbler quilt using my Accuquilt die -- this was back when yardage was still available.
I also made some adorable onesies!
I love this collection so much that I use this picture as my blogger and etsy shop avatar:
Here's a picture of some of my Authentic stash (and you can see a bit of another Sweetwater project in progress in the background, using one of their newer lines, Reunion)
I will admit to overpaying for some of this, but it is just so impossible to find that it's hard not to purchase it when you do come across it! Luckily, Sweetwater keeps coming up with new tempting collections; in fact, their newest one, Mama Said Sew, was inspired by Authentic. I haven't made anything with this collection yet, but I do like the graphic look of the fabrics, so I'm excited about the possibilities!
I have had plans for several years to make myself a purse using Authentic so that I can enjoy it every day; I just haven't gotten around to cutting into it (or maybe I'm still afraid to cut it!) Tomorrow night is our first quilt guild meeting of the year, so maybe I'll be brave enough to pledge this as a project to complete by June! I'll let you know....
Tune in tomorrow for another out-of-print favorite from my stash!


Monday, September 10, 2012

Stash Hoarding, Day 1: Arcadia

Last week, I promised to do a series of posts on my top five fabric collections to hoard. All of these are out-of-print, and I seem to be unable to resist them when I find a good deal online! What is even worse is that I seem to only be able to use them if I have "back-up" fabric!

The first collection to showcase is Arcadia by Sanae for Moda Fabrics. This one is special to me because it became my "test quilt" when I decided to start selling quilts on Etsy three years ago. I had just been to a very unsuccessful craft fair and realized that these events were just too unpredictable to be worthwhile, especially for trying to sell higher priced items such as quilts. As it happened, I had a new nephew who needed a crib quilt, and a layer cake of Arcadia on hand to play with. I designed a pattern to make the best use of a layer cake, which became the prototype for the Hip to Be Square quilts I started selling in my shop. Although it took about a month to make a sale, business has grown steadily since then!

I just love the colors and designs in this collection. Actually, I'm not really a huge fan of any other Sanae fabric line -- this one is just particularly appealing to me. Since the first quilt was given to my nephew, I didn't make one for my store until I came across another Arcadia layer cake later that year. It sold fairly quickly, and prompted a request from another customer for a custom order. I couldn't find any other layer cakes to remake the original, but I did find a few honey buns (1 1/2 " strip rolls) and made this version:

Since I couldn't find enough fabric for a backing, I had to improvise by using a coordinating Sandy Gervais print, but I included a few extra Arcadia blocks on the back to tie it all together. I love the way the back turned out! I think it really suits the modern look of the collection.

This was also the quilt that prompted the hoarding of the collection! Since then, I have collected other pieces, including a couple of charm packs, a layer cake, honey buns, and even a fat quarter bundle! I have plenty of fabric to make several other quilts -- I just seem to fear running out! I do plan to make another Hip to Be Square quilt in the near future, and I have a pattern in mind for the honey buns as well. I really do try not to overpay for these finds, however -- I think that's why I have to snatch them up, and why it is so difficult to subsequently cut into them!
Tune in tomorrow for my next blog entry about stash hoarding!


Saturday, September 8, 2012

Custom Order Craziness!

I promised earlier this week that I would share some photos of recent custom orders.  It has been a crazy month of custom orders, and I'm still headed toward the finish line on the last few!  In the past month, I've actually booked a total of 15 orders, which is definitely a record for me!  Luckily, August is the perfect month to be overbooked, as I was able to get most of them done and shipped before school started this week. 

Three of the orders were for Central Park quilts.  This is one of my all-time favorite fabric collections, and I will absolutely admit to hoarding it! (By the way, next week, I'm going to do a series of posts on the top five fabric collections I love to hoard!)  The first order was for a Flying Geese lap quilt.  I did share some pics of this one on an earlier post, but here it is again:
I do often get requests to recreate quilts I have sold, and the only challenge is to source fabrics if the collection is out of print.  I was lucky to find a couple of online stores that still had a good selection (you can often find bits and pieces of an out-of-print fabric grouping here and there, but purchasing from multiple sources adds a lot of extra shipping and handling charges to the expense).  Although I already had some Central Park on hand (from previous hoarding!) I did buy a little extra, which turned out to be a good omen, since I received an order for 2 matching zig zag quilts shortly thereafter!
I wish I had thought to take a picture of both of these together so you could see the difference in size.  Although the layout is similiar, I scaled down the size of the zig zag pieces in the smaller version, so it really looks like a "mini" version.
By far, my most "popular" custom order request this month was for Patty Slongier's adorable line for Michael Miller called "Backyard Baby".  When I first saw this collection, I knew it would be a great one for boy quilts (always more difficult to find good fabric collections for boys). Even though I usually order new collections shortly after their release, I often don't get around to making the projects until much later!  However, this collection impressed me so much with its soft hand and adorable designs that I had to make one right away.  I sold the original quilt earlier this year, but when I listed it as a made to order version this summer, I ended up selling 5 custom quilts, all different sizes!  In total, I made close to 300 blocks to create those 5 quilts!
Speaking of great "boy" fabrics, I also had a request for a Riley Blake Wheels quilt.  This is one of those collections that makes me want to go back in time so I can purchase all the yardage I could have bought at clearance prices before it sold out!  My most popular pattern, Hip to Be Square, has a Wheels quilt shown as a sample in the listing, so I do get questions from time to time asking where to find it.  When I received a custom order request in August, I really wasn't sure I could accomodate it, because I had only a few pieces left, and didn't think I could find enough online.  After some searching, I did manage to accumulate a nice variety of some of the basics in the line (although several of the "anchor" prints in the collection are nowhere to be found).   Since I purchased from multiple sources, I picked up a few other fabrics at the same time to make the most of the shipping and handling, and when my packages started arrriving, I was surprised to see that some of my other choices just happened to coordinate with Wheels, such as Amy Butler's Sunspots from her Love collection, and one of the popular Pez fabrics from American Jane for Moda fabrics.  I happily included these in the quilt, and I love how it turned out.
Another long-out of print collection is Dandelion Girl by Fig Tree Quilts  I already had some of this on hand, and since I really wasn't able to find any signficant amounts online, I decided to cut into my stash(after all, I can't hoard everything, can I?)  For this custom quilt, I scaled down the block size of my newest pattern When the Stars Align to create a 3 foot square version.  I love the way the smaller blocks came out!  I have enough Dandelion Girl leftover to make a lap quilt, so I think its time to stop storing this collection -- I'll put it to good use!
 This weekend, I'm working on a few of the remaining custom orders to see if I can have them on their way to new homes by the end of the week!   

Thursday, September 6, 2012

A Quilt Finish! Scrappy Chevron

Recently finished and newly added to the shop:
This was one of my California quilt top finishes that never made it to the blog!  All of the pieces were leftover from this custom order quilt I made last winter. (The pattern for the quilt shown below is available from Olive Tree Patterns.)
Don't you just love how versatile half square triangles are?  Both of these quilts were made from the same basic building block -- the magic is in the layout!
I must admit that when I first started putting the original quilt together, I was unsure about the fabric choices.  I really didn't know if all of these pinks would play together nicely in the final quilt. 
I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome and looked forward to working with the leftovers at a later date.  Because I had to purchase quarter and half yards of a variety of fabrics for the initial quilt, I had plenty leftover -- it was just a matter of deciding how to use them.
Since chevrons and zig zags are so trendy right now, that seemed the way to go!
You can read more about the chevron quilt here.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Sewing With an Old Friend

Earlier this week, I reacquainted myself with an old friend -- my Singer Featherweight:
I originally purchased this about five years ago on eBay. When we first started going on extended trips to California in the summer to visit family,  I wanted to have a small machine to take with me on the plane so I could set up my West Coast sewing retreat!  I didn't want to pay too much, and I wasn't particularly interested in buying a mint condition Featherweight.  They are stunning when you find one in pristine condition, but I just wanted one that would sew well, and I could happily live with the cosmetic imperfections.

I can't remember exactly how much I paid for it, but it was between $150 and $200, which included shipping.  It happens to be a Centenniel Featherweight (according to her serial number, she was born in 1951, which was Singer's 100th anniversary).  She is missing her special Centenniel medallion, but her decals are in good condition.  The case was definitely in rough shape, and she didn't come with many accessories, but she does sew a great straight seam.  I'm happy I purchased her!

I originally bought a Featherweight carrying case to take as a carry on for plane rides.  I was still waiting for it to arrive the day before we were flying out, so as a last minute purchase, I bought a cooler bag and filled it with bubble wrap.  Of course, when I got home from buying the cooler bag, I found the box with the one I ordered on my doorstep.  However, I ended up liking my cooler bag more (it was just as sturdy and less expensive) so I returned the fancy one and kept my substitution!

She travelled back and forth with me for three years, until I finally decided to purchase an inexpensive Brother machine that I could leave out in California.  Certainly not as long-lasting and durable as the Featherweight, but I do appreciate not having to drag the extra carry-on anymore. 

Although I still bring out the Featherweight occasionally, especially if I need a portable machine, I have to admit that I'm very spoiled by my Viking Sapphire 830.  So, I've been neglecting the Featherweight as of late.  However, earlier this week, my Sapphire foot pedal broke, so I pulled the Featherweight out, dusted her off, and did some sewing with her.  Even after being neglected, she still sewed a lovely seam.  Although I replaced the foot pedal on the Sapphire the next day, I haven't put the Featherweight away yet -- I need to do a little sewing with her to keep her in good shape!

If you're thinking of purchasing a Featherweight, you should definitely have this book in your library.  It's an excellent resource, and there are some great testimonials in the book that speak to the Featherweight's durability.  In fact, I am amazed that this 1951 machine continues to sew beautifully, while my expensive sewing machine's plastic foot pedal had to be replaced after only seven years (and by the way, the replacement cost of the foot pedal was close to the price I paid for the Featherweight machine!  Ridiculous!)

Anyway, in my last post, I mentioned that I would explain the impetus for the immediate quilt room redo.  The Sapphire foot pedal broke in the middle of sewing bindings on a couple of custom order quilts.  I managed to finish sewing most of the bindings on the Featherweight, but when I ran out of bobbin thread and couldn't find my spare bobbins, I decided that I would attack the layout of the sewing room immediately!  (Probably not the best decision when you've already reached a level of frustration, but I feel like it was meant to happen that night anyway!)

In the next post, I'll share some pictures of recent custom orders.  In the meantime, here's one to leave you with:
More Central Park loveliness!