Monday, October 6, 2014

Another Special Gift

Here's my last finish for Quarter 3 of the Finish Along! My original goal had 8 finishes, and I managed to complete 5 of them, so I'm pretty happy!

That is my neighbor's house! It is gorgeous and HUGE--we call it the Tuscan Villa!

 This quilt turned out so beautiful! My friend adopted a baby a few months ago, and I made him a quilt. I wanted to do something for his birthmother also, so I made this companion quilt using the same pattern but in different colors (and grownup sized!). Her favorite color is orange, so I used two shades of orange and some navy for a bit of a pop.

I used navy Pearl Bracelets and a fun orange & white geometric print from Fun & Games for the back.

Since this quilt is so big (it finished at 64" x 78"!) and I wanted to eventually have it finished, I decided to machine quilt it. 
I just quilted in the ditch along every seam. Quilting something this big on the diagonal was quite a learning experience for me! I actually had to pick out my first run and re-baste the whole thing, because it got a bunch of puckers on the back. But the second time around came out beautifully!

While I'm still not a huge fan of machine quilting, it was a great learning experience, and I feel a little bit awesome for conquering something after failing the first try!

These two quilts look so awesome together, and I hope they bring joy & comfort to their recipients!

It might be a little bit hubris-y, but I love those labels! :)

A Quilt for Baby Leo

I finished Secret Project #3! For my original goals post/introduction, see this post.

My friend T adopted a gorgeous baby boy a few months ago, after years of waiting for the right match to happen. I was so happy for her & her husband and their awesome family that I wanted to make her new babe a quilt! She and her husband are both super awesome artists, so I wanted to make them something super modern and minimalist. When I saw the Concerto Pattern by aria lane, I knew it would be perfect!

This quilt is kinda big for a baby quilt, but that's probably a good thing since I'm gifting it a few months late! It finishes at 51" x 56". I used Kona and Art Gallery solids for the top & binding, and that same awesome science-y print, along with a bit of Art Gallery solid, for the backing.

I hand quilted it 1/4" on each side of every seam, which took a while, but I LOVE how it looks, especially from the back!

I love me a good graph!

I made a second quilt, for baby Leo's birthmother, which is currently in the dryer, so I'll post on that after I get a chance to photograph it!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Another Finish!

I really love the Finish Along, it gets me super motivated to actually get quilts done! I think it helps that I won a big fat gift certificate last time I played, so I'm hopeful that maybe I'll win something again. And if not, at least I'm crossing things off my list, which always feels great! See my original goals post here.

My most recent finish is this awesome Arrowed! quilt for Henry. I was originally planning something totally different for Henry's baby quilt, and this was going to be for my shop, but my husband loved this one so much he asked if we could keep it for the baby. And, as one does, I was moved by the flattery, and readily agreed! 

Scott actually helped a lot with this one, in everything from color scheme to arrow placement to quilting ideas. The top & binding are all Kona solids, and the back is a fun chemistry/math formula print. 

I also used my first awesome shop label--is that weird on a quilt for my own kid?

I'm planning to make many more of this quilt, in lots of different colors, for the shop.

I quilted it in mirrored ziggedy-zags in light grey thread. I love how it turned out!

Henry approves also!


Friday, September 5, 2014

StudioCherie Duffel Bag

Even though I have a gazillion sewing goals I'm trying to accomplish, I decided that what I really needed to do was add another project! I wanted to make a duffel bag to take to the hospital. I started it Monday (the day before my due date), and finished it today, Friday. Baby decided to wait to be born until his bag was done, which is super thoughtful of him. My mother-in-law flies in tomorrow evening, so he can decide to come on out any time after that!

I read several reviews and blog posts about the Studio Cherie Travel Duffel Pattern, and the consensus seems that it's a real pain to make but it looks awful pretty when it's all done. So I decided to make it, naturally.

So, let me just preface this with letting you know that 3-D objects are really hard for me to make. Quilt tops are super easy, but once I start working on bags or clothing, my brain has a hard time processing things. I'm a very visual learner, and have a hard time reading a sentence in a pattern and then knowing how I'm supposed to do that. I really need lots of good diagrams and pictures. This pattern doesn't really have that. I found the directions really confusing, there were only a few dark pictures, and there really weren't enough diagrams. I ended up changing lots of stuff. I used some of my beloved Far Far Away 2 cotton/linen blend, as well as some linen blend Mochi Dots. This required some math, since I didn't want to have my FFA2 hidden by the straps or something! Speaking of straps, the pattern calls for Jute webbing, which is super gross--it's like burlap. So instead I made super thick, super fat handles out of the linen, and added Soft & Stable to the folded over part of the handles, so they're super duper fat & awesome.

I used a sport zipper instead of a regular-type one, and added D-rings instead of zipper tabs so I can add a shoulder strap. I used Soft & Stable for the construction of the whole bag, so even though it's empty in all these pictures, it stands up on it's own and is really....stable. I used some perfect Far Far Away 1 reprint cotton for the lining. I added two interior pockets (one regular & one with a velcro closure), which was really difficult because the bag sides are quilted, and the straps and exterior pocket got in the way. But it happened, and it was definitely needed.
 I also bought a package of bias binding, because the pattern has you leave the raw edges unfinished inside. I seriously would not have been able to make this without Wonder Clips, and I bent at least 10 pins before I went and got some. My sewing machine could barely get through all those layers of linen, lining, and Soft & Stable, and this thing took me like 5 days of 6+ hours a day to make. The pattern designer sells them for $189 on her etsy site, and I'm surprised it's not more--they're a lot of work and a lot of materials!

It was really hard for me to cut into this favorite fabric that is out of print and selling for upwards of $40 a yard, but I'm glad I did. I love looking at it in my fabric cupboard, but being able to use it is even better.
I'm pretty sure I'll never make this bag again, because it was a beast. But I did some hard things, and figured stuff out and even finished it on time, so those are all good things!

Monday, August 4, 2014


Well, in order to make some headway on those quilty goals I set for myself, I have been sewing a TON the last few weeks! And it has all paid off, since I've made some really great progress! See my original goals list in this post.

Firstly, two finishes (yay!!!): Secret Projects #1 and #2 revealed!

 I'm one of the youth leaders for our church's Young Women program. We have two girls graduating this year, and so we decided to send them off with handmade quilts!
 We talked to their families about their favorite things and colors (this young lady loves the 49ers!), and had all the other girls piece the blocks. I made a few extra blocks and finished the quilts up!
It was fun to teach the girls a new skill, and these blocks were perfect for first-time sewists--they're supposed to be wonky!

I actually machine quilted both of these, because I didn't have time to hand-quilt them like I usually do. It's still not my favorite thing to do, and it certainly didn't help that it's been a bit hot here lately, but they're done, they look great, and hopefully these girls will know how much they're loved!

I based the design of these quilts off of this awesome quilt by Film in the Fridge, and I even managed to get by without doing any y-seams!

The other progress I've made is finishing up the top for Secret Project #3!
(Sorry for the terrible picture--I took it at 1:00am with my iPod!)

I pieced the batting last night (I had lots of huge leftover pieces that worked out perfectly!), and I'm going to piece the backing & baste it tonight. I'm really excited about this one you guys.

Also, I opened a little store! I'm going to be quitting my job when Henry is born :( so I'm going to start selling some of my favorite quilts! I've only got a couple of things listed right now since I've been busy with other stuff, but my goal is 4 quilts a month, and I just made an awesome plan (and Scott mathed for me) for some great new ones coming soon! You can check it out here:

And also like the facebook page here:

Monday, July 14, 2014

Finish Along 2014 Quarter 3 Plans!

I'm linking up to the Finish Along again, in hopes of getting some serious project-finishing done!

Finish Along 2014

I've been in a bit of a sewing rut the last few months--well actually, I've been super sick and tired and miserable, and have spent most of my time sleeping whenever possible. But I'm finally starting to feel better, and have a lot of projects that I am supposed to be finishing, so this is just the impetus I need! Most of them are Secret Projects though, so I can't tell you too much about them, since I'm not sure if the recipients read my blog. Onward!

Secret Project #1:

I just finished this top at about 11:30 last night--I spent about 9 hours at my work (The Intrepid Thread) to use the design wall and big cutting table, and it almost beat me. I always think, "Oh, I'll just figure it out as I go," or "I don't need to follow the pattern!" and then it always comes back to bite me. This one has a definite due date, so I've got to keep up the momentum! Done! Finished 8/3/14.

Secret Project #2:
This is going to be the same pattern as the one above (argh!). I need to make about 10 more blocks, then find another 9 hours to spend at work to piece it all together! Also, it has the same due date, so it's in speed-mode processing. Done! Finished 8/2/14.

Secret Project #3:
 Ideally this would be done already, so it's next in line, but Christmas wouldn't be bad either, so I'm not TOO stressed about getting it done. I'm using the Concerto Pattern by aria lane. I'm hoping it doesn't turn out too Dallas Cowboys-looking. Done! Finished 9/4/14

Secret Project #4:
This is a companion quilt for #3 above, using the same pattern but different colors. Done! Finished 10/1/14.

Quilt for Baby Henry:
 Henry is due at the beginning of September, so I should probably make a quilt for him! I saw this gorgeous quilt on Flickr, and my awesome Maxine figured out all the math for me. Ideally this will be done before Mr. Henry arrives, but with all the other projects I have going, the chances aren't looking so great. Done! Turned out a bit different, but finished nonetheless! Finished 9/9/14.

Will's Ninja Star Quilt:

My son Will started this about 3 years ago, and I have been lame and haven't sat down with him to work on it in a looooooong time. So hopefully we can work on it soon! It's baby size, so he's planning to give it to Henry.

Ben's First Quilt:
This one actually has ninjas. Ben picked out the fabric almost a year ago, but we haven't started it yet. He plans to give this baby size one to Henry also, then make a twin size for himself. He's very excited to start working on it!

Gigungous Star Quilt:
 This has actually been basted for over a year, it's just so huge and I had no idea how to quilt it, so it's been sitting around. I finally decided to do horizontal lines 1" apart all the way across, which will of course take a million years. But it's nice to have something on my quilt frame to work on in the evenings when we're watching a movie or something. Once I finish piecing and basting the projects above this will have to be set aside again, but I'm going to try to studiously work on it and make a dent in it.

My overall plan is to sew at least and hour a day, and quilt two lines on the Giant Star quilt every day, until Henry is born. I've been doing way more than that since I made this goal on Wednesday, so hopefully I'll be able to keep it up! I'll probably be able to finish 8 quilts in 3 months, and have a baby in the middle of it all, right?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Super Fun Adventure!

So, my oldest son Will is in fourth grade. Here in California, that means he has to do a Mission Project, where he studies and builds a model of one of the 21 Catholic Missions started by Junipero Serra and others. Since the kids were on Spring Break, I decided that we should drive 5 hours down to Ventura, spend the night, visit the mission he was assigned to study, and drive back. Without my husband (he had to work). Sometimes, adventures must be had.

We left Thursday morning, and stopped at Pinnacles National Park for a few hours on the way there. It was beautiful, and the weather was perfect.

After talking to some friends and researching on the Park's website, I chose a ~2 mile hike that went through some cool caves. The kids were happy to all have their own flashlights.

(Sorry about the crazy red-eye, I'm not computer savvy enough to do anything other than plug my camera into the computer and click on what pictures I want to put in!)

Even I had to duck and scootch around rocks and scraped up my forearms a bit because, while very doable, this isn't a modern super-easy trail! It was built by the CCC in the 30s, and the whole place had a great kind of freedom and trust in the visitors' common sense that you don't really see here at the County parks in the Frivolous Lawsuit Capital of the World Bay Area.

The One Million Stairs of Death

Most of the cave was made like this--gigantuous rocks that happened to fall into crevices at some point and will hopefully stay there during our entire visit. This was just at the end of the caves. Max, who is only 3, totally rocked this whole hike, without being carried, even up those crazy One Million Stairs! And I,  being 5 months pregnant, totally made it without being carried either, so surprises all around! Thankfully, there weren't even any small earthquakes while we were in there, so we all got out unscathed.

At the top of the stairs was this beautiful reservoir. Evy did a great job getting over her fear of walking down steep slanty hills:

Max practiced throwing everything within reach into the water:

And Will & Ben almost immediately started climbing what appeared to be a pretty much sheer cliff face. They thought it was awesome, I quietly tried to not have a panic attack.

That one above is the zoomed-in version. Here's what I saw while sitting helplessly on the ground too far away to do anything:

We stayed here for about an hour, then headed back to the car by the other half of the loop. Back near the parking lot a Ranger noticed the boys climbing around in a dried up creek bed, and said to me, "It's completely fine for them to be playing and climbing in there, but make sure they watch out for poison oak!" That totally surprised me--he didn't holler at us for going off the trail, but instead just tried to help us. It was a great little trip, and the kids all want to come back here and camp, and especially want Scott to be able to come next time.

We drove for several hours, then ate dinner at Chik-fil-a (yay!). Our hotel was really nice (the Country Inn and Suites in Ventura). I decided it was a great idea to give Max & Evy a bath, then we all went to bed. Those kids were so excited and amped up from the long car ride that they didn't fall asleep until almost 11:00, and I slept horribly because I was getting sleepy at one point in the drive and had to get some Dr. Pepper, which unfortunately took a while to get out of my system.

We woke up early the next morning and ate the free hotel breakfast, which was really great & generous and the kids thought was awesome. Then we headed over to the Mission.
Mission San Buenaventura, the 9th California Mission

We got there before the museum part was open, so we explored the outside and the courtyard for a while. I've never been to a Mission before (my fourth grade teacher was a bit....eccentric and didn't exactly follow the standard curriculum), but this one seemed a bit weird--it was right on a big street, there were very few other buildings, and it was right in the middle of downtown. It seemed a bit cramped, but it was still a great building--it was built in 1782, and might be the oldest building I've ever seen. 

Part of the courtyard and garden, side entrance (the big front doors are barricaded, presumably against rebel Indians)

Ben ran around this fountain 21 times. It's really important that you all know that.

Sorry this one is blurry, I let Will be in charge of the camera most of the time. This is one of the original wooden bells from when the Mission was first built. Apparently, this was the only Mission to have wooden bells. Which isn't too surprising, because it doesn't seen like wooden bells would be overly resonant.

We ended up walking up & down the downtown strip while we waited for the museum to open, but it was pretty disappointing, because none of the stores opened until 11:00, even on weekdays. Weird, right? We did find a Goodwill that was open, and bought Evy a Princess bike for $10 (yay!), Max used his last $2 from Grandma & Grandpa for a really cool little water gun, and I succumbed to brand-name pressure. Most of the time you guys, I don't care about brand names. But Orla Kiely is something different. Everything everything everything she designs is so perfect and gorgeous, and since I can't afford the bags or clothes, I always buy all the soaps from Target--even the ones that don't smell good! I'm telling you, this is a problem. Anyway, I bought this gorgeous iPad case for $12.
Super amazing perfect, right? The problem is, I don't have an iPad. Nor do I think I ever will. I'm hanging on to the hope that when the iPad 73 comes out, someone will take pity on me and sell me their iPad 2 for super cheap, and I can finally look at this gorgeousness all day and not be considered super weird.

In the end we did get to visit the museum, and bought a mission packet with some cool handouts and postcards and a little book about the mission, which was great because it gave Will lots of extra information, and he "got all the points," so I assume his project did well. He built an amazing model of the Mission out of LEGO bricks (we bought two of those big Pick-a-Brick containers full of white & red bricks from the LEGO store). 

That kid has a mind that I just can't understand when it comes to building. He's incredible.

The drive home went pretty well. We were all getting pretty sick of being in the car by hour 4 or so, but we survived. I found the perfect place to have my giant horse sanctuary whenever I happen to get millions of dollars. I didn't take pictures because I was driving, but here it is on Google Maps:

It's miles and miles and miles and miles and miles of rolling hills and oak trees and grass and open fields and was the most perfect thing to drive along for a really long time. Cows live there now, but I'm sure my horses would love it too.

Also, we saw a bald eagle on the drive home! Seriously, did you know they lived anywhere but like super remote Alaska!? Again, no picture because I was driving. But, I assume we all know what bald eagles look like. I might have completely freaked out and the poor kids didn't know what was happening at first, but I think they all saw him at least a little bit. 

The last thing I want to show you is my super great Postcard Book. I started this about a year ago after seeing a similar idea on Pinterest. Every time we go on a trip or even an adventure for the day (like the Boardwalk or the Beach or something) I buy a postcard each day we're gone and write all the things we did and mail it home to us. I put all the postcards chronologically in this big scrapbook binder with 4x6 sheet protector sleeves. We all like to look back and remember our trips and look at the great postcard pictures. I'm not one for taking tons of pictures while on adventures, because I'd rather just Experience things, so this has been a great way to help remember fun little details. I have a feeling it will be even more special in 20 or 40 years. Scott's parents also send us postcards when they go on trips, so I keep those in the binder as well.

I just took these pictures with my iPod, so sorry they are so terrible!

Anyway, it ended up being a great trip, and totally wore all of us out, but these are the kinds of things I want my kids to remember about their childhood, and I always love adventures, so I am definitely up for doing it again. And, with 4 more kids to do Mission projects, there is certainly a chance that we'll end up needing to visit others in the coming years!