Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Block do-over

Success!

my do-over Moda Building Blocks block 8

This time, with focused attention to accurate 1/4" seams and using the "no-waste flying geese" method (which meant less bias edge contention and increased accuracy), the finished block measures 18.5". And I like this turquoise fabric even better. So it is a win!

Meanwhile, I am nearly done with a sequin tank top made from the failed dress parts. A little bit of hand stitching and some hems to go. I'm feeling the garment bug right now, so I think I'll focus on clothing for a bit. I've traced a few patterns and look forward to getting some cutting done soon!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

It's a skill building kind of weekend!

Not every idea is a winner. In this case, I think my concept was good, but I ran into some issues with execution.

sequin dress mashup plan

The idea was to make a happy sparkly dress for my trip to Las Vegas next month (woo!). I found some beautiful feline-esque sequin mesh at Gorgeous Fabrics that I decided I needed to have. After much deliberation, I had a vision of a cowl neck and a straight skirt. So I combined two patterns that I have successfully made in the past (my mashup plan is pictured above): the Vogue 1351 bodice (for the cowl and the full lining) and the McCall's 6612 skirt (short and straight with no waist seam). What I did not take into consideration was the drape of the fabric (or rather, lack thereof). It should have been obvious, I guess-- but I had a vision and was blinded to anything else. Anyway:

failed sequin dress, front view weirdness

Yeah. It just looks weird!

sequin dress fail, side view of crazy cowl

My first thought was it looked kind of space-age the way it just kind of sticks straight up/out. Ha! (Gah-- I should have sucked in my belly more too... keeping it real here at the Crafty Musings! :P)

I did attempt to mitigate by cutting off the cowl and working to finagle it into a tank-style neckline without undoing everything else. That was a fail too (no pictures of that). So I went nuclear and took it all apart.

fun times picking out stitches from the sequin mesh

Unsewing sequin mesh fabric is about about as much fun as it sounds. But it is done. On the bright side, I have definitely learned some things that (hopefully!) will help me make some better choices. Skill building!

Now to figure out Plan B.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Skill building

As a gift to myself last Christmas, I signed up for a Block-of-the-Month at a local quilt shop, Gathering Fabric. They are offering a beautiful rendition of the Moda Modern Building Blocks quilt as their Saturday Sampler this year.

I was all hyped to get going when I picked up my first packet. But after making the first block, I realized this project was going to be a test of my skills!

Moda Modern Building Block, block 8, with my wonky edges highlighed... a whole 1/2-inch too small

My finished block ended up a full 1/2" smaller than it was supposed to. You can see my issue(s) highlighted in the photo above. Gah!!! But-- it was a good eye-opener. This pattern is truly a skill builder, enforcing the importance of accuracy while piecing. There is very little room for error. I think I have been spoiled by the patterns I have been using lately-- relatively simple blocks, lots of "trimming down" to size as you go and whatnot. My piecing skills have definitely gotten a bit rusty (lazy).

With accuracy in mind, I finally dove into my second block paying very careful attention to seam allowances:

Moda Modern Building Block, block 12

Woo! And it is the right size! *happy dance*

Now I'm going to give that first block a do-over. I want to get it right!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Evening clutch

Another day, another Noodlehead Gathered Clutch! I'm thinking that should be my new motto. I do seem to make a lot of these. Truly, this design is awesomesauce fun!

Noodlehead Gathered Clutch, black and burgundy collage

This time around I went with a faux suede-textured fabric (leftover from a Halloween costume made a few years ago) for the outer and some pretty metallic burgundy cotton for the accents.

Noodlehead Gathered Clutch, back of flower pin

I also decided to add a bit of frill with a fabric flower pin. I purchased the "Gathered Petal Flowers" downloadable pattern from M.E.H. Designs on Etsy. The pattern is straightforward, but is not particularly detailed and assumes some sewing knowledge, and it kind of leaves a lot to the imagination in terms of finishing. While I'm not sure I would recommend the pattern, I gotta say-- it did result in a pretty spiffy looking flower. I made the flower entirely by hand and it ended up taking me close to an hour-and-a-half to complete (about twice as long as constructing the actual pouch did). But it was definitely worth it-- I think it totally takes this clutch to another level.

Noodlehead Gathered Clutch, flower pin detail

So fancy!

Friday, January 30, 2015

"Just Ducky"

Technically, I made this last year. But I wasn't able to finish it with a label until just this week as I have been waiting for baby to arrive. So I'm counting it as my first quilt finish of the year. Woo!

Just Ducky, front view

It is a simple, very cute pattern called "Play Pen" from the book, Crazy for Baby by Me & My Sister Designs.

This is the second quilt I've made from this book, and I should have another to share soon (that baby is due next week!). Having made three projects from it so far, I'm calling this book a winner! Fast, simple projects, great instructions... what's not to love?

Just Ducky, quilting detail, front

I also appreciate that the projects are a bit larger than the typical baby quilt. This one finished at 54" square, a nice size for playing on as well as for bundling-up with and snuggles.

Just Ducky, quilting detail, back

I used Aurifil Mako 50/2 thread for the quilting. The yellow areas are all done with #2130 (Medium Butter) and the rest with #2600 (Dove). Inspiration for the double-loop quilting in the yellow areas came from Natalia Bonner's book, Beginner's Guide to Free-Motion Quilting.

Just Ducky, back view

The super cute ducky print has been in my closet for many years (P&B Textiles, c2000). It felt good to finally have a special project for it! All of the rest of the fabrics came from the stash as well, including the happy striped binding and the pieced back.

Just Ducky, label

I had to put a ducky on the label.

Just Ducky, front-side view

Hopefully, baby Graydon will enjoy his new quilt!

Monday, January 26, 2015

A Skylanders Birthday!

Big Bear turned 8 on Sunday! This year he wanted to celebrate with a Skylanders-themed party. So, of course, mama had to get her craft on!

His favorite Skylander character is Gill Grunt, so I made a poster. I started by tracing a coloring page image of Gill Grunt onto posterboard using my neighbor's nifty projector:

line drawing of Gill Grunt

Then I used acrylic paints and filled him with color:

using acrylics to paint a Gill Grunt poster

Here he is all painted up:

painting complete

Finally, I finished him up by using a Sharpie to do the lettering and outline of the image:

completed Gill Grunt poster

While the paint alone looked okay, I think the outlining gives it a nice, finished look.

There had to be a Skylanders cake:

birthday cake featuring Skylanders element symbols

The symbols on the top represent the ten elements featured in the game. I mixed and piped 11 different colors of icing, which was time consuming, but the effect was worth it. I didn't have room to actually write "Happy Birthday" on the top after doing the elements, so I just put his name and the big "8".

We played two games-- Twister and Bingo. With my husband's help, we created a Skylanders-themed bingo game for the kids to play. I found a bunch of images, sized and edited them. Then he wrote a program to create 5x5 bingo cards that would all be unique. Here's a sample:

sample bingo card

So cool!!! Then I went and had them printed out for the party.

Big Bear playing some bingo

The game was a hit!

woo! snacks!

Balloons, snacks, games, more snacks, cake, presents... it was a fun party.

Here's the birthday boy holding his Gill Grunt figure in front of his new poster.

The birthday boy posing with his Gill Grunt figure in front of a Gill Grunt poster

I just love that smile!

Happy birthday, Big Bear!!!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Quality crafting time

It has been a good few days, with lots of crafty goodness!

I spent some time catching up on my Sea Breeze Quilts "Chocolate Marshmallow Sampler" quilt along blocks:

blocks 7-10 of the Chocolate Marshmallow Sampler

Blocks 7-10 are now complete, and I am all caught up! Only two blocks to go in this one, I believe.

19 pillowcases packed up and ready to go

I also got all of the pillowcases washed, ironed and packaged for donation.

recent order of four cuts from Gorgeous Fabrics

And I received a fabric order from Gorgeous Fabrics. Yum!!! Remember how I said I wanted to do more garment sewing? My plan at this point: tops from the b/w stripe and the purple, a skirt from the coral stripe, and not sure about the brown. They were actually sold out of the one I originally ordered and I chose this as a replacement, but I'm not sure I like it for the cardigan I had in mind... so it might turn into a skirt. Not sure yet. The next step though is to get them pre-washed, which with long swaths of fabric that need to be air dried, is kind of a process. Hopefully I'll fit them into the laundry cycle here soon.

In addition, I've been working on some party prep for Big Bear's upcoming birthday. He's turning 8! Crazy!