Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Sew South Recap

Holy cow, it's been almost a whole month since I went to Sew South! I quit my job on April 10, went to Sew South April 16-19, Mid Atlantic Mod the weekend after, and then started my new job April 27... so, needless to say, things have been in flux around here lately.

It was a rainy 6.5 hour drive from MD to NC!
Sew South is a quilting retreat hosted by Jennifer of Ellison Lane, held in Charlotte, NC. I was lucky enough to get a ticket this year, and I'm so glad I did!

I actually managed to pack a reasonable amount of projects. DCMQG represent! :)
The structure of Sew South is a little bit different than Mid-Atlantic Mod (2014 recap, 2015 recap coming soon!) After a longer-than-expected drive, I arrived right in time for the welcome reception. I had time to settle in between the reception and the opening of the sewing room at 8 pm, and boy did I need the down-time to get my stuff organized and to relax after the long drive.

The ballroom!
On Friday and Saturday mornings the sewing room opened at 8am, and there was a group workshop each day. In the afternoons and evenings there was free sewing time with various activities sprinkled in.

On Friday, the ladies from Sew South Sponsor, Dritz taught us how to make fabric covered rope bracelets.

My finished wallet that I use every day.
All the pretty wallets!
After the Dritz workshop, Jennifer walked us through constructing awesome wallets (yet-to-be-released pattern by Lindsey Rhodes).

On Saturday, Amy Gibson (from Stitchery Dickory Dock and the Craftsy BOM) came all the way from Colorado to talk to us about her new book, and teach us a nifty applique Drunkard's Path technique. I chose not to participate in the mini-quilt project, but it was so much fun to hear Amy speak, and to meet her in person, she's adorable!

My biggest achievement of the weekend was piecing the x-plus quilt top that I have been working on for years! All the ladies were so encouraging and the round of applause after the last seam was sewn was a reward in itself.

Jennifer had lots of other activities including Secret Sister (more later), a Fabric Basket swap, the Fat Quarter Game (based on LRC rules), get-to-know-you games, charity sewing for  and door prizes of course. I had so much fun I barely took any pictures, but you can see them all in the full recap.

my table-mates: Heather, Lori, Jonan, and me!
It was so amazing meeting old (internet) friends, and new. I was lucky enough to be at a table with Lori Hartman, Heather of The Sewing Loft, and Heather's mom, Jonan who was a riot!

My awesome Roomie and bee-mate, Laurel!
I roomed with my long-time #GraceCircle bee-mate Laurel (who was also my Secret Sister). I can't wait to go to Sew South again in the future. :)

Oh, and while I was in NC, I couldn't resist going out to the local BBQ joint, R&R Bar-B-Que... it was amazing!

best Hush Puppies I've ever had.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Stitch Fix April 2015

I hope you all will forgive a non-sewing post (at least there is fabric involved)! I will be starting a new job at the end of April and the contents of my closet have seen better days. There are two options for how I can update my wardrobe... I can sew my own clothes which requires learning a new skill set, or I can buy some new pieces which requires shopping. I hate shopping! Enter Stitch Fix.

Stitch Fix has been around for years, so I'm really late to the party on this one. A friend posted some outfits she received in her fix on Facebook and I wanted to try it out immediately! Stitch Fix is a personal styling service in which you fill out a detailed style profile and pay a $20 styling fee. In 3-4 weeks a box arrives containing five items chosen specifically for you by your stylist. You can write your stylist special notes about what you're looking for, and you can also link your Pinterest board (check mine out!) When your Fix arrives, you have three days to try everything on and decide what to keep and what to send back in a pre-paid return envelope. If you keep one or more items from your fix the $20 styling fee is applied to your purchase, and there is a 25% discount if you keep all five items. Super fun, right?!

Without further ado, here's what I received in my first Fix (all items are size large):

41Hawthorn Carson Graphic Chevron Cross-Front Blouse ($64)

I loved the color and print of this blouse (it's a deep indigo with jewel tone chevron), but it fit terribly! It was tight around the bust, causing the wrap front to gape and give a full view of my bra. I had to safety pin it closed to take the picture.  I don't think the extra pooling fabric around my hips did me any favors either. Returned

41Hawthorn Ackley Houndstooth Print Blouse ($68)

Had the chevron print been on this blouse I definitely would have kept it. I like this style much better, and it had the option to roll the sleeves and secure them with a tab above the elbow (I should have gotten a picture). While I like the style, I wasn't digging the beige... Returned

Margaret M Emer High Waisted Cropped Trouser ($98)

These are the pants I'm wearing in all of the other pictures. I was very hesitant when I pulled pants out of my Fix box because pants shopping is the bane of my existence. Holy cow they are comfortable, and flattering, and perfection. I fell in love immediately. I didn't look at the prices before I tried the clothes on because I didn't want my opinion to be swayed by the cost. So, the only drawback is that they are definitely much, much more than I normally spend on pants. The fabric is really high quality and they're made in Canada. I have a pair of charcoal trousers from Gap that are great quality and were a similar price and I wear them at least twice a week to work. They have held up wonderfully over the last couple years. So I figured I'd give these new ones a try and see if I have a similar experience. Now I can get rid of some not-so-great black trousers in my closet! Kept

Pixley Martina Slub Knit Open Cardigan ($48)

I'm a librarian. This is a black cardigan with pockets made of a super soft rayon. No further explanation needed. Kept

41Hawthorn Sloane Colorblock A-line Ponte Shift Dress ($78)

I went back and forth about this dress. It's comfortable and flattering to my figure. However, for the price I didn't know how much wear it would get in my "business casual" workplace. I'm also not a super fan of navy/cream/orange (but it went nicely with my new shoes!) Since this is my first Fix I figured I'd be getting more dresses in the future, I ended up not keeping it. Maybe if I didn't fall for those trousers hook, line, and sinker this dress would have made it into my closet. Returned

There are style cards for each item included with the package that show how the piece can be worn dressed up or dressed down. These will really come in handy when I actually do some shopping I'm sure. Over time I'm sure I'll acquire some more clothing to put these style cards to good use. Had I kept the dress I think I may have had to get a navy and white striped blazer!

Stitch Fix style cards for: Carson Graphic Chevron Cross-Front Blouse, Ackley Houndstooth Print Blouse, Emer High Waisted Cropped Trouser, Martina Slub Knit Open Cardigan, Sloane Colorblock A-line Ponte Shift Dress
All in all, getting my Stitch Fix box was a fun experience, it was well worth the anticipation. Had I chosen to keep all five items, my total would have come to $252 (that's $84 off, the pants would have almost been free!) I'm not really sure if my stylist looked at my Pinterest board because I don't think the styles I pinned resemble what I got, but she did a good job choosing pieces that definitely fit my style based on what my profile indicated. The pieces were all pretty "basic" which is good because I ended up keeping two pieces that I know will be staples in my closet and will allow me to toss a few worn out pieces. I adjusted my style profile to be a little less conservative and specifically asked for more color and pattern in my next box, and I selected more style categories just to see what I'd get. I also asked for two items by name. My next Fix is scheduled to arrive May 1 and I can't wait!

I hope you enjoyed my Stitch Fix review. After I signed up for the service, I devoured all the reviews I could find so I figured I'd give back. It's so much fun looking at what other people receive in their fixes!

Disclosure: This box was paid for out of pocket.  I did not receive any compensation for my review, however the links to Stitch Fix are referral links and I will get a $25 credit for any subscriptions made off of those links.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Sisterhood of the Traveling Quilts

I was so, so excited to receive an email from Renee inviting me to join the second round of the Sisterhood of the Traveling quilts!  Michelle and I are the newbies this year and I couldn't be more excited to join in the fun.   Last year, Renee, Jess, Ashley and Laura created some stunning quilts.   You can see all the progress and finishes on the #sisterhoodofthetravelingquilts IG hastag: go... take a look... right now!

image from Red Pepper Quilts

As soon as I received the email I knew exactly what I wanted to do for my starter.  I've been pretty obsessed with low volume fabrics for the better part of a year.  It's amazing how my tastes have changed since I started sewing because I used to not "get" the LV hype (I blame Rachel for converting me!)

(clockwise from top left) Native Quilt, IG Mini Swap for @j_q_adams made by @lorihartmandesigns, #SSRoundRobin pic by @goldwillow, Anna Maria Horner Hand Drawn Garden: Sketchbook

Here is the inspiration mosaic I posted on Instagram after accepting my invitation.  I think it's pretty obvious what I'm going for :)  I'm not a huge paper-piecer, so I didn't bother doing any feathers, but I wouldn't be opposed to having them either!  I plan to back the quilt with the AMH print, I bought 3 yards a while ago and have been saving it for the perfect quilt.

And here's my starter!  There are 3 Pow-Wow blocks from Cluck Cluck Sew, 3 diamonds from Elizabeth Hartman's Patchwork City (which I did end up paper-piecing because I hate templates even more), and a couple 16-patch blocks with half-square triangles thrown in.  Like the inspiration quilts, I want pops of bold, saturated color floating on a low volume background.  I'd prefer low volume fabrics that have a white/cream/beige/gray background as opposed to pastels.  The motifs will be anything with points (triangles, diamonds, stars, arrows, etc.).  I can't wait to see what this group of super talented ladies do!

The rest of the group exchanged at QuiltCon, so my starter is off to Ashley first, and I'm waiting with baited breath for Michelle's to arrive.  Our next swap will take place at the end of April where Ashley, Jess and I will be attending Mid Atlantic Mod :)

Friday, February 6, 2015

Gift Sewing

I've been sewing a lot (but blogging little) lately.  I didn't make a lot of Christmas Gifts this year, but I have resolved to make special birthday presents for friends and relatives in the coming year.

The two pieces I did end up sewing for Christmas were for my mom and Nana.  Aylin posted some gorgeous Christmas paper-pieced projects over on her blog.  The patterns are free from Sewing Under the Rainbow's Last Minute Christmas Sampler.  I'm really not a fan of the process of paper-piecing, but man I love the results!

So the Saturday before Christmas, I decided it would be a good idea to start making some trivets for presents... famous last words right!? Good thing I had eggnog and brandy and rum to keep me company!

I estimated each segment took an average of 10 minutes to piece, trim and press.  Each snowflake has 16 sections x 2 trivets...  I was literally sewing right up to the moment we had to leave to go to my Mom's on Christmas morning.

Both trivets are 12" square, and are made with Insul-Bright batting so they can be used as big pot holders.

My favorite part of my mom's trivet is the Cotton and Steel metallic netorious binding :)  I just want yards and yards of this stuff in all the colors!

Last year I made little fabric baskets for the my fellow full-time librarian ladies in the reference department.  Since then we have hired another full time staff member, so I asked her what she wanted handmade for her desk, and she asked for a "thingy to put her mug on."

Jodi, my co-worker, has her bulletin board upholstered with a lime green canvas, so her criteria had to be that it went with the lime green.  The stack of 1.5"x3.5" AMH scraps I had laying on my cutting table definitely fit the bill :)

This was a super easy and quick gift to stitch up.  it's just 3" rail fence blocks made completely out of scraps.  The back is the AMH Postage Due print I used for my Aeroplane bag that I wanted to use up because I am so sick of having that fabric around, lol.  And I used the leftover binding from the Medallion baby quilt I made last month.

Lastly on my gift sewing marathon, I promised my sister a double zip pouch ages ago.  She was visiting over the summer when my first order of Cotton and Steel and she fell in love with Rashida's Tangram print and asked me to use it for her pouch.

I couldn't resist the Neon yellow zippers that match the yellow in the print.  I used this tutorial and the pouch came together really quickly.  It's a super cute and useful pouch and I can definitely see myself making a lot more in the future!

(sorry night-time photo!)

Right after I finished this pouch, I decided I wanted to make a few more. 

The top Vintage Happy pouch went to my other work friend, Abigail, for her birthday; I sent the middle C+S pouch to my Schnitzel and Boo mini quilt swap partner; and the bottom pouch is still sitting in my sewing room waiting for a good recipient.  It might turn out that it turns into Craft Show inventory if that goal becomes a reality!

Next up on the gift agenda is a Noodlehead Supertote for my friend and co-worker, Christine's birthday.  I ordered this fabric from Spoonflower which will hopefully arrive in the next few days :)

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Medallion Baby Quilt

So far, 2015 is off to a great start for me in my quilting pursuits.  True to form, I work better under a deadline and managed my first finish of the year in a mere 3 days :)

 I found out several months ago that a good friend and co-worker's wife was pregnant with their first baby and had been planning to make them a quilt since they made the announcement  Of course with me binge watching Gilmore Girls and Orange is the New Black slacking off, and with Holiday crazy-ness, I didn't get a start until after Christmas even though I knew the baby shower was quickly approaching.

I got a copy of of Angela Pingel's A Quilter's Mixology and from the moment I picked it up, I wanted to make every single quilt in it.  I thought the Medallion Baby Quilt would be a good start and perfect for a gift for the expecting couple.  Angela's instructions for how to sew the curves and the patterns are fabulous.  I will definitely be making more quilts from this book :)

Keeping #SewMyStash2015 in mind, I took stock of my fabric stash and did an initial sketch and pull.

The hardest part for me was cutting the templates accurately with the curves.  I purchased "heavy weight" template plastic from Joann's several months ago, but it was total junk and my rotary cutter sliced right through it and my pieces weren't accurate at all.  Frustrated, I broke down and bought Marti Mitchell's Drunkard's Path templates which made the job so much easier!  I ended up getting all the sizes available so I can make other quilts in the book more easily :)  The proportions aren't exactly the same as the templates Angela has in the book, but I think it still looks great.

Other than the difficulty cutting, the quilt came together so quickly.  Ryan actually made a comment that if I could finish this in 3 days, why had I been working on our bed quilt for a year and a half (because this quilt only has 72 pieces and is baby sized!)  The top is made of a variety of prints, entirely from my stash.  Each block finishes at 7" square.

For the quilting, I decided to go simple and just concentric circles using my walking foot.  The circles are randomly spaced over the quilt at 1/2" or 1 1/2" increments.  I used a lovely blue, white and pink variegated Aurifil from the Tula Pink collection.

After a quick poll of my Instagram friends, I chose a print from Anna Maria Horner's Field Study for the binding.  It's completely by chance that the print contained all the colors that I used in the quilt.  I had just enough to finish off the binding (another 1/2 yard used from the stash!)  I machine stitched the binding down since I was on a deadline and for durability.  I found a dark purple Gutterman I had in my thread stash that blended really well.

The backing is the only fabric I purchased for the quilt.  I knew the baby's room was a minty green, so I thought this large scale Heather Bailey Up Parasol print would be perfect.  The pattern calls for 2 1/2 yards for the backing, but I only ended up using a yard and a half since the quilt finished at 42"x42".

I gifted the quilt at the baby shower and soon-to-be mommy and daddy both loved it.  I hope the baby will love and use it for a long time :)

Specs at a Glance:
Top: 7 inch Drunkard's Path blocks in various cotton prints
Finished size: 42" square
Pieced and Quiltied with Auriful 50 thread
Batting: Quilter's Dream 100% Cotton Batting
Pattern from A Quilter's Mixology
Finished: January 3, 2014

Linking up with TGIFF and #sewmystash2015on Instagram

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

A Lovely Year of Finishes -- January 2015 goal

I tried this last year, but then life derailed my big sewing plans.  Hopefully this year will be the big year of finishes for me.  I already posted my yearly 2015 WIPs and goals, ALYoF will help me me on track on a monthly basis.

The first blog post I have of my x-plus quilt is June of 2013 (too long!), so my January 2015 goal is at finish at least the top, and move on to the quilting phase :)

My Button
linking up with A Lovely Year of Finishes 2015

Sunday, January 4, 2015

2015 Sewing Goals and To-do

I'm putting this in writing so I hold myself accountable, and it will be nice to cross things off the list!  I'm sure this list will grow and change as the year progresses :)

my WIP box
Gifts + Swaps

basting my first quilt of 2015!

  • Baby quilt for Tobin and Amy (Due Jan. 5) -- currently: Finished!
  • Schnitzel & Boo mini swap (Due Jan. 23) -- currently: Finished
  • Birthday present for Christine (Due Feb. 10) -- currently: cutting/piecing
  • Birthday present for Shannon (Due March 14) -- currently: piecing
  • Rainbow mini swap (Due Apr. 6) -- currently: quilting
  • Sew South secret sister (Due Apr. 16) -- currently: planning
  • Sew South fabric basket swap (Due Apr. 16) -- currently: planning
  • Swap with Jess (Due Apr. 23) -- currently: planning and cutting
  • Mid Atlantic Mod Secret Sewist (Due Apr. 23) -- currently: awaiting assignment
  • Mid Atlantic Mod Mini Quilt swap (Due Apr. 23) -- currently: planning
  • Briar Rose Quilt for Autumn (Due July) -- currently piecing

Monthly and yet to be assignment commitments

  • Grace Circle blocks (monthly)
  • Sisterhood of the Traveling (bi-monthly)

Quilt WIPs

Pile of x-plus blocks

  • DS disappearing 9 patch (Due June 7 so I can have it signed!) -- currently: piecing 
  • Starbright Quilt -- currently: piecing

Starbright Quilt mock-up

  • Penny Sampler (in time-out) -- currently: piecing 

Penny Sampler Blocks so far

New Projects
  • Quilts for nephews (5) and nieces (1)
  • C+S Single Girl quilt
  • Stitched-in-Color "handstitched" class

  • Sew 15 minutes every day
  • #SewMyStash2015
  • Blog at least bi-weekly
  • Learn garment sewing
  • FMQ!
  • Try selling at a craft show