Sunday, March 13, 2016

Finishes! Spring Edition

Even though I haven't posted in quite a long time, I've actually been doing a ton of sewing. It's been a GREAT sewing year!

You have already seen my Bonnie Hunter Allietare mystery quilt, that was a ton of fun to make and started the year off right. It still needs to be quilted, as does my Grand Illusion mystery top from the year before.

I started off the year determined to get UFO's off my plate. I started with this paper pieced Hawaiian top. This top belonged to my mom. She got about 80% done on it and then called me because the seams weren't matching up correctly. We determined that she had not been leaving a 1/4" seam allowance around each unit. (In her defense, the pattern didn't make that very clear. I think paper piecing patterns should always have those dotted lines indicating the seam allowance around units because that's such an easy mistake to make.)

Here's basically what I started with:

So I got work assembling this guy. The pattern came printed onto freezer paper. Now that I know how great it is to use freezer paper for paper piecing, I'm never going back!

Even with all of the mismatches, it came together pretty nicely. I really think the errors aren't that noticeable.

The biggest downside was all that paper to rip off...and yes, it took several hours. I know there's some snazzy new method of paper piecing where you never actually sew through the paper, but I like this trusty old method. Even if it means a lot of paper ripping.

Here's an in-progress quilting shot. The quilting really worked wonders at smoothing out the lumps and bumps.

The finished product!

Here's a quilting close-up. I went angular on the flowers and leaves, and then did a wavy design for the sky.

Here's a sky close-up. Inspired by a quilting photo I saw on pinterest while searching "sky quilt designs."

And here's a shot of my brand-new quilt labels. I ordered them on Etsy and I LOVE them. It's great that they include the year and location. And they are cool looking to boot!

The moral here is if you are frustrated on a project, there's always a way to make it work. And if you just hate it, there's always someone else who will be interested in picking up your UFO and continuing it. And the mistakes are never as obvious if you step back a few feet!

So after that I started on another project for my mom: a second professional tote. You may remember my original quilted tote:

I love this thing. It's my go-to airline carry-on bag, I bring it to business meetings, it's basically the greatest bag ever. It also had COMPLETELY FANTASTIC instructions. Like seriously, some of the best written instructions I've seen. She includes little labels for you to pin to each piece of fabric to keep the pieces straight, and she includes diagrams of your fabric to show you how to cut out all of the piece most efficiently. I don't do a lot of non-quilt sewing, so it's important to me to have clear instructions or I will easily get confused. And these fit the bill! By they way, the pattern is from the Creative Thimble and it is the "professional tote." I also have to add that they have utterly amazing customer service. For this latest tote, I ordered a few notions from their website, on a Sunday, and received shipping notification the very same day! They arrived two days later. Wow!

So anyways, I was happy for the change to use this pattern again and make another tote. Here's the new tote:

I will confess to have strong feeling about this fabric. It was from my stash, and I love it for a quilt, but I didn't think it was very professional for a tote. I almost revolted and refused to use it. But I showed it to my quilting friends and they said it was pretty so I went ahead and used it. The finished tote is still not quite my style but I think it is pretty.

For this one I used a faux leather on the bottom and added those rectangular rings to the straps to make them look cooler. It also has little purse feet on the bottom.

Here's the inside. I left out the computer sleeve and the tote is no worse off for it. Very spacious, with several cool pockets on the inside. And one fun tidbit is that I have seen that button (near the bottom of the photo) at Joann's for years and have wanted an excuse to buy it. And I finally got my excuse!! 

I almost forgot - way back in January I FINALLY finished my christmas mug quilt!

I started quilting in back in August or September, then got completely sidetracked by several projects. It was partially quilted enough that I was able to include it as a backdrop in our Christmas photo:

And then since I had it down we just used it as a quilt throughout the holidays even though it wasn't quite done. So in January I finally sat down and finished it for good.

Here's a shot of the backing. Fleece from Joann's, no batting. This is one of my favorite ways to finish a quilt. It's easy to quilt through and is super snuggly and soft. Plus the fleece actually shows the quilting stitches quite nicely. I couldn't have asked for a more perfect backing if I had designed it myself. Not only is it Christmas mugs, but the light blue perfectly matched the light blue used on the front of the quilt!

Here are a few shots of the borders. For the innermost border (and sashing), I did a design that alternated between a holly leave and a swirl. For the middle border, I made a little template out of paper and traced it on with a frixion pen. For the outer border, I used a roll of "borders made easy."

I really loved the borders made easy. I think the finished border looks really professional and I'm way too lazy to trace all of that down. Using the border roll worked like a charm.

Here's a shot of the roll being attached:

 Basically it's like paper piecing, you just stitch through the paper. And yes, there was a bunch of paper ripping after it was all done. But I LOVE the finished border.  And now, here are a million close-ups of the mugs!

Each mug was stitched in metallic silver thread with a different Christmas motif. The one below has two mittens.

For the background, I quilted steam coming out of the mugs and then some random swirls. You can see the one downside of putting the fleece on the back with no batting between is that in this case the fleece showed through the white backing. Oops!

As you can see, my kitty was doing her best to get in the way of every photo.


This one has two reindeer although they are hard to spot.

Aaaand one more shot of the finished product.

Okay I actually have several more finishes but this post is already too long, so we will stop there for now.  I've recently switched to google photos which I believe will make adding photos to blog posts much easier, and as a result will enable me to blog more frequently. Yay!

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