Thursday, May 28, 2015

Creative Fun

This week I've been too sick to do any quilting (boo...) so instead I'm finally getting around to sharing a "fun side project" I worked on about a month ago. I'm also finally linking up with QuiltShopGal's #CreativeGoodness Linky Party!

I think creativity is a really important part of the quilting process, and we all need to find what level of creativity makes us happy. After all of the anxiety and stress I felt making my dad's veggie quilt, which entailed a relatively minor amount of creativity in plotting out the setting and design, I know that working from patterns is definitely my strong suit and where I feel happiest.

There is one exception, though, and it is landscape quilts. I love making them and they really get my creative juices flowing (and yes, I know I have made very few, but I plan to make more!)

So with that in mind, the backstory to this project is that we were creating pages for our college reunion "class book." I wanted to do something unique and brainstormed ways to incorporate quilting into my page. Of course I'm not the world's greatest quilter. But then it came to me..applique! I love fusible web applique because you can literally make anything with it.

And for some reason something else hit me...snowglobes! I love snowglobes and collect them from most places I visit. I wish I could show you a photo of my vast snowglobe collection, but most of it is in Alaska. I am starting to amass a new collection here though, with seven accumulated so far.

Making a snowglobe quilt has been on my bucket list, and still is. I want to make a quilt that is a bookcase full of snowglobes, and each snowglobe exemplifies part of my life. So this was kind of a mini/dry run version of that.

First off, I took a look at my Stanford snowglobe, and sketched out a mockup.

And then...we were off!

Here's the Stanford snowglobe:

Next off, I wanted to show something about moving to St. Louis and working as an engineer.

The snowglobe was supposed to have little engineer-y things around the bottom, but my boyfriend said the hard hat looked like a lemon and someone else said they thought it was a turtle, so I gave up on that idea.

I wanted the arch to be all sparkly, and I originally tried to use elmer's glue and regular old glitter. Well the glue just wouldn't dry and the glitter came off all over my hands. What I used instead, which worked really well, was glitter fabric paint that I bought while playing around with my last landscape quilt. I think it gives the arch some pop, don't you?
(Do you see the little piece of loose thread? Oh well...)

Then I decided to do a hockey snowglobe, as I play recreational hockey. I actually have two hockey snowglobes in my collection right now.

One is from the San Francisco Bulls inaugural season, which I just learned went bust. It's a bit of a shame because I had a lot of fun at their games, but I think they had a tough location because their stadium (cow palace) was not easily accessible from public transit. The other snowglobe is from the NHL Winter classic that my boyfriend and I went to two years ago. Here we are enjoying the snow:

For this one, I had to decide how much detail to go into, and what to make myself vs. get pre-printed on a novelty fabric. I also debated a lot what to show. Should there be skaters? Just skating equipment? In the end I chose something relatively simple. I bought a novelty fabric with hockey skates but decided it looked too out of place, and copied the skate design to make my own little pair.

Here's the net being made. Lots of tiny pieces!

Finally, of COURSE I had to have a snowglobe for quilting! For this one, I did just go with pre-printed novelty fabrics. It's a fun and easy way to get the design you are going for without working your tail off. This one also showcases all the cat rescue work I do.

And those are my four snowglobes! I took photos of them and arranged them on a pdf page with captions for my class book submission.

I did want to share one bit of advice from this. I normally use Heat N Bond Lite or Heat N Bond Ultrahold. For this project I bought some Pellon Wonder Under and was very disappointed. The web would constantly stick to the paper instead of the fabric, and when I tried to remove the paper it would often fray my fabric edges and sometimes rip off very small pieces (like kitty tails). I understand it is softer than Heat N Bond, and may be better for quilts that will be used, but for wall projects where stiffness doesn't matter, I will be sticking with Heat N Bond from now on.

This project was a TON of fun. I have no plans for these snowglobes and have set them aside. Their final purpose does not matter so much as the joy I got from making them. Another great joy was pulling from my stash and discovering all of the fun fabrics I have! I would audition fabrics and then throw them all over the floor. Rosie greatly enjoyed rolling around in the mess. :)

And I think that's what quilting is about, finding what makes you happy, what gets you excited, and going for it!

For more inspiration, check out the other linky participants of the #CreativeGoodness linky party.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Professional Tote

Today I have something pretty cool to share...the professional tote!

The pattern, made by the Creative Thimble, can be found here. The pattern for this tote was one of the many goodies I brought home from Paducah. The great joy of not having a current big intimidating quilt in progress is that this year I was actually able to dive right into my Paducah projects while I was still excited about them! (I'm pretty sure I still haven't made any of the patterns I brought home from Paducah last year...)

When I saw the samples at Paducah, I was blown away by how, well, professional this bag looked! It could easily be mistaken for something storebought. And I had just been thinking that I really needed a new tote for myself, so this fit the bill perfectly.

In the center, with the blue zipper, is a laptop sleeve. You can also see a little key fob on one interior pocket. There are interior pockets on both sides, one has a velcro enclosure.
On the outside, this side pocket has a magnetic snap to keep it secure. On the other  side (shown below) there is a small zipper pocket with another pocket behind.

On each edge we have water bottle pockets that can cinch up.

And of course the top zips shut too, for added security! So basically this is the world's most useful tote bag :P more aspect that really made it seem "professional"...the bottom! The bottom is made of a nice sturdy canvas, and I added purse feet to it to keep it clean.  A number of the samples the creator had sewn up had faux leather made them look so cool!

When I was picking my colors, I really wanted something that could pass as storebought, so I chose pretty mellow colors for my regular taste. I actually bought both the grey and pink fabrics at Hancock's of Paducah, thinking they could go together. And go together they do! I love that it's a demure grey but has those pops of bright magenta. :)

At the booth in Paducah, the husband of the pattern author mentioned how many times he hears that her patterns are well written and easy to follow, and I have to agree. Sewing anything that isn't a quilt is NOT my strong suit. These instructions were great though, and I only had to rip things out a few times (mostly because I didn't read closely enough).

One aspect of the instructions that I loved was the inclusion of pre-printed labels to apply to your pieces.

You can see all of my pieces cut, fused, and labeled here. Oh, I must mention the interfacing too. Per the pattern recommendation, I used Pellon decor bond. I am really impressed. It was super easy to sew through and work with, but the finished tote is nicely stiff and sturdy.

She has many other cool purse and tote patterns too, so I see many more pattern purchases from the Creative Thimble in the future!

As a side note, Rosie was being a total obstructionist during the construction of this tote!


Saturday, May 9, 2015

fun finish

I've got so much to post about but no time to post! The photos on my computer have been in disarray for months, and it's making it tough to blog. I'm trying to get them organized a little bit at a time.

In the meantime, here's a top I just finished. 
I don't think I ever even posted about it being in progress.

Yes, it's a Christmas quilt! This was a free pattern from Kate Spain called "In from the Cold." You can still find it. It immediately caught my eye because free patterns that show off fabric lines are usually pretty lame. But this one is so fun and unique!

The pattern sat around in my head until last summer when I found a Christmas fabric bundle on sale at my LQS.

I cut out the pieces and worked slowly, one mug at a time, whenever I was feeling overwhelmed by my other projects. I can't recommend enough this method of having a "fun" side project to default to when the others tire you out.

Here are some close-ups of some of the fanciers mugs:

Aaaaand that's all I've got today. I am in between large quilt projects and loving it. I am working on little odds and ends that I picked up in Paducah (a really cool tote bag, some wool easter eggs, wallhangings), and finishing off random UFOs (my bee block quilt, another tote, some wallhangings). It's fun to walk into my sewing room and say "what do I feel like working on today?" I hope you are enjoying whatever projects you are working on too!