Aug 10 2015

Midnight Mystery Quilt — June and July

Published by under Quilting,Sewing


I’ve decided to do the Midnight Mystery Quilt-a-long by Meadow Mist Designs. I’m starting a little late (seeing as it’s August and it started in June) but it seems to be okay since the first two months were just picking fabric and cutting it. I actually found out about it in June, but I was having a heck of a time deciding what fabrics to use.

Midnight Mystery Quilt fabrics

I finally decided to use this as a scrap busting project. I needed about 2 yards of some of the fabrics, so it had to be large scraps. Well, I’ve made several quilts recently and used wide fabric for the backing. Since they were mostly lap quilts, I had lots of backing left over. Random pieces that I figured I’d use in a quilt eventually . . . why not this quilt? So yeah, this quilt is turning out to be a total stash buster!

The fabrics aren’t in any particular order, but for those curious, top to bottom, they are D, B, A, C. The gray is the backing for my Bright Squares quilt, the black is the backing for my Crazy 9 Patch quilt, and the aqua is from a quilt that I’m finishing up the binding on. The white is leftover fabric from my neon squares quilt (which is still in progress — soon, soon).

Midnight Mystery Quilt cut pieces

Cutting actually took way longer than I was expecting it to. I think this was due to the fact that many of my scraps were weirdly shaped so I had to cut out a lot pieces one at a time as I tried to line up the scraps along the grain.

Midnight Mystery Quilt cut pieces

But I finally did it. The pieces are A (white), B (aqua), C (black and purple), D (gray). You may be thinking to yourself, “Hey, wait, why is that purple there? I thought this quilt only called for 4 colors.” You would be correct. However, I didn’t have as much of the black as I thought I did. I had enough to get almost all of the pieces out of it, but was missing the 4” squares. I certainly have some plain black fabric, but I had this purple leftover in my stash (from a dog costume that I have yet to post) and I figured it would add a little interest to the quilt since the other colors were pretty but rather neutral.

Midnight Mystery Quilt scraps for binding

I’ve also been saving the scraps that are inevitable when cutting strips and trimming them into 2” wide strips that I plan to piece together to use for binding at the end!

The August instructions start in on the sewing and I plan to get that done before the end of August and then I’ll be right on track. The quilt itself should be done in March of 2016. Talk about delayed gratification :)

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Aug 05 2015

Lavender Bath Bombs

Published by under Crafts

Beautiful Bath Bombs

I took a break from quilting this weekend to make some bath bombs. I love a good bath bomb in my bath, but sometimes have a hard time finding the kind I like: moisturizing and relaxing. I used this recipe from the Soap Queen blog to make lavender clay bath bombs. I ordered everything form Brambleberry. They have an easy link to add everything from the recipe to your shopping cart. I’ve ordered from Brambleberry before and been really happy with their products and service.

Baking soda and citric acid

The recipe is pretty straight forward, but just for some additional reference photos . . . above is after mixing the baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) with citric acid in a 2:1 ratio and squishing all the clumps with my hands.

Shea butter added

Then I melted the shea butter and mixed that in.

Bath bomb components

After stirring in the lavender fragrance, I split up the mixture and added the color clays. I like the purple one best. All mixing was done by hand. I wore gloves, but not sure they’re really necessary — I just did it because they have gloves on in the pictures for the recipe.

Busted bath bombs

Finally, I packed them into molds. At the top of the page are the ones that turned out well. It took some work to get used to how to pack them correctly. My first one fell apart immediately. My second one fell apart when I tried to take it out of the mold. Third, fourth and fifth all worked out well. The last one you see above is just leftovers. The half ones will still work in the tub so I’m not too worried.

I can’t wait to test them out!

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Aug 02 2015

Sunday Stash

Published by under Quilting,Sewing

Happy Home by Sew Caroline for Art Gallery

This is actually my first Sunday Stash. I don’t normally do one because I accumulate fabric at odd intervals. But I was in Florida last week and got to visit the most wonderful quilt store: Wandering Stitches. Sadly (for my checkbook, not them) I will now have to visit them every time I’m in the area. They have the most amazing selection of wide backs and batiks that I’ve ever seen. Truly awesome.

The first thing I grabbed was some yardage from the Happy Home collection by Sew Caroline for Art Gallery fabrics, above. These will make the perfect pillows for my living room.

Pink flannel wide back in swirl

Next, among the awesome selection of wide backing fabric, I found this swirly flannel from Wilmington. I’m working on a pink baby quilt for my cousin and this will be perfect. I had previous bought some pink chevron wide back fabric by Riley Blake which would have also been nice, but this will be so cuddly. I’ll save the Riley Blake stuff for something else.

Heartfelt and stars

I grabbed some stuff to have in the stash. The left is Heartfelt in leaf from Art Gallery. I love the phrases on it. I’ve been really into inspirational/motivational phrases on fabric recently. And the other is some white on white stars. I figured this will make a great background fabric for something at some point. It was quite cute and I hadn’t seen something like it.

Voile -- Midnight Roof and

Finally, my big splurge: voile. On the left is Midnight Roof by Maureen Cracknell for Art Gallery. I absolutely fell in love with this fabric when I saw it. My plan is pajamas. It will make the most perfect pair. I can’t wait to snuggle up in them with a cup of tea and a good book. 

The right fabric is Triangle Tokens Voile in Agave by April Rhodes for Art Gallery. This one was a guilty buy. I had a coupon to Wandering Stitches and ran in on the way to airport. I was looking for some pink batik but couldn’t find what I wanted so I grabbed this. I think it’s awesome. I got way too much of it, but that’s okay. It’s usable for so many things — shirts, dresses, pajamas. So I know I’ll use it. Just not sure what yet.

Art Gallery has some great voiles out right now. I’m really going to have to restrain myself.

Sewing terms

Finally, we also hit up another quilt store in the area. It was much smaller and not really my style (every quilt store has its own personality), but I did fine this fun fat quarter of sewing newspaper print. Such cute fake articles!

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Jul 20 2015

Best Coco Dress Yet!

Published by under Sewing

Coco dress front

So in my last post we saw my recent attempt at a Coco dress. Well, after making that and realizing that it was too large, I traced out a size 1 (down from a size 3) by looking at how much I was taking in at the waist each time and seeing which size would give me that as a final version. This time the fabric I used was some jersey ITY stuff I had lying around (it was previously used to make a dress I gave to my pregnant friend who loved it). And I love how this one turned out! Now that I know my size, this dress is such a great one to put together quickly if I need a dress for something.

Back of armscye Front of armscye

Back of armscye after trim Front of  armscye after trim

I did need to open up the arms a bit to make it more comfortable. Basically I dropped each side down about an inch and then blended into the curve.

Coco neck folded over

I finished off the neck and arms the recommended way: stay stitch, fold and zigzag stitch. It worked quite well and looked nice and finished. The other seams I serged.

Coco dress back

Even hubby was impressed by this version. This one is certainly more fitted and therefore maybe not as work appropriate at this length, but great for a night out with my husband or friends. And it’s super comfortable!

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Jul 17 2015

Casual Cotton Coco Dress

Published by under Sewing

Coco dress front

Over the weekend I made a couple of Coco dresses by Tilly and the Buttons. I had previously made a glam version of this dress that I was really happy with and have worn a couple of times already with many compliments. I wanted a more casual version for summer (ooh, look my toes are still painted for 4th of July).

I had picked up this cotton jersey knit intending to try this dress out in cotton. This fabric is Embrace by Valori Wells from the Quill line.

Laying out the coco dress

It went together pretty much like the last one except there were only 2 pieces to cut out since I was making a sleeveless version.

Seam tape for coco dress

I used this grey grosgrain for the shoulder seam to stabilize it although I did serge all the edges to finish them as well.

Here's how I seam tape

I had previously made a size 3 and had to take in the waist, but it looked fine. However, when I cut a size 3 out of the cotton jersey it was huge on me. Maybe it was the drape of the previous fabric that it didn’t really show how big it was, but this one was quite large.

Taking in the waist

I knew I could take in the sides as I had before as I show above, but taking it in too much at the arms would shrink the armholes which were already rather snug. Guess I’d just have to cut those bigger, too. I decided to continue on.

This neck is too loose

But I had more serious problems when I got to the neck. I finished off the neck seam as recommended but used a straight stitch instead of a zigzag. Not sure the zigzag would have helped. It just gaped so much on me. It would have been off the shoulder if I’d left it as is.

Coco neck binding fix

But I fixed it! I brought it in the neck seam with a little pleat on both sides. Then I covered the stitching with binding. I did the same on the back. And I used the binding on the armholes as well.

Coco dress front closer

This was my first time doing this kind of jersey binding. Basically I cut the binding about an inch shorter than the circumference, made it into a loop, stitched it to the front, then wrapped it around, folded under and top stitched on the front to catch the back. There are several good tutorials on line although I realize now that most of them don’t do that extra step of folding under the edge. Interesting . . . anyhow, I’m pretty happy with how it turned out overall.

Coco dress back

It’s stil a bit big, especially around the arms, but it’s comfy and works well with a little crop sweater or a gray cardigan that I have over it and that hides the arms. Not sure how much I’ll wear it, maybe just to hang out, but it was some good experience sewing knits. Next time I’ll definitely go down a size or two.

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Jul 13 2015

Bright Squares Quilt

Published by under Quilting,Sewing

Bright squares quilt

This was a fast and fun quilt. Basically it consisted of taking a layer cake of Kona cotton solids (the classics in this case), randomizing them by throwing them in a big pile and then laying them out in a 6×7 grid. Yes, that simple. I wanted something to practice my longarm that would still be “fun.” I think this managed.

Bright squares quilt back

I quilted it with yellow thread to bring out the brightness a bit and used a gray wide back fabric that I got from JoAnn’s using a 60% off coupon (seriously a great deal that way — I will definitely be buying more of that when I get my next coupon). I love the way the yellow contrasts with the gray on the back. Batting was the Quilter’s Dream Green Polyester which is made from recycled bottles. I really liked the loft it had so I will probably use that again in the future.

Bright squares quilt closeup

The other thing that I find so cool about this quilt is that the colors go together so well, that at any given junction of 4 squares, you have a beautiful color set. So if I ever need some color inspiration, I can just go to my quilt to find it!


The binding was done using the other half of the yellow stripes I used for the crazy 9 patch quilt.

Bright squares quilt binding

I tried a different method this time where I stitched it to the back first, folded to the front and then top stitched. I was happier with how this turned out overall, although my binding still isn’t as even as I would like on the back. I’ve got a couple more methods to test out on the next few quilts, so I’m not declaring a “usual” way just yet.

Bright squares quilt folded

But overall, I was really happy with this quilt. I’m sure I’ll use it — for picnics or color inspiration! It was very gratifying to make something that came together so quickly and still looked nice, so I’m sure I’ll be making another soon since it’s also great for longarm practice!

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Jul 08 2015

Map quilt x 2

Published by under Quilting,Sewing

Map quilt

When I got certified at the first longarm place, a year or two ago, the first thing I did was some practice quilts. I had bought two yards of this map fabric and made each one into a practice quilt. I did similar quilting on each but at different scales.

Dog in a blanket

The first one was done at a large scale. We ended up using it as a dog bed in the crates. Honestly, I can’t believe she let me wrap her up like that. She must have been tired :)

Map quilt detail

The second, above was done at a smaller scale. I did wavy lines on landmasses and waves in water with the occasional “eddy” (aka swirl).

Map quilt detail

The binding was self-binding by cutting the backing 1 inch wider than the whole thing and folding over. I’m posting this now because I finally finished the binding on the second one and I never posted pictures of the first. The backing is just a red broadcloth and the batting is some old polyester stuff I had. I don’t think I can donate it because they don’t like polyester for baby quilts, but the polyester stuff sure does puff up nicely.

Map quilt folded

The first one has been well “loved” by the dogs (they like to drag it around the house). Not sure what I’ll do with the second yet . . .

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Jul 05 2015

Crazy 9 Patch Quilt

Published by under Quilting,Sewing

Crazy 9 patch after washing

Over this holiday weekend, I’ve been trying to finish up some quilts that I’ve had laying around. Quilts take up a surprising amount of space when they haven’t been finished. Extra fabric hanging off. Not really folded. All sorts of mess. I have a few that are just waiting for binding. Most of these right now are “practice” quilts. I either had them lying around or I made them because I wanted to practice my longarm quilting.

Side view of the awesome fabric

One such quilt is this crazy 9 path quilt. I started it years ago. Literally years ago. I can’t even remember. It’s been sitting in my UFO pile for so long. Definitely at least 4 years. Anyhow, finally got off my butt and finished it.

Layering fabric to cut

The first step was to finish the 9 patch squares. I had finished 9 of them previously and had cut the squares for the other 9 (there are 18 total). Originally this was going to be 2 baby quilts, but then I decided to turn it into one big quilt because I didn’t know who I would give the baby quilts to and I was more likely to use a big quilt.

Cutting the crazy 9 patch squares

Crazy 9 patch is pretty simple to do. You just chop the squares all together in some random diagonal lines. It’s important to cut all 9 squares together so that they all have the same shapes.

Crazy 9 Patch quilt squares laid out

Then lay them out, one after another, starting with a different square each time so that you end up with one of each color in each square.

Crazy 9 patch quilt

And stitch them together. I do columns and then rows. The one thing I don’t like about crazy 9 patch, is that I can never seem to get the points to line up. It has to do with the math and angles. It will never line up, not without weird stretching. I know this. But it still annoys me.

Laying out crazy 9 patch quilt top

Once all the squares were done, I laid them out in a pleasing fashion, mostly trying not to get too many like colors next to one another. Simple black sashing completed the top.

Longarm quilting crazy 9 patch quilt

Next up was quilting which I do at Always Quilting (or visit their blog). I decided to do a geometric quilting pattern to contrast with the craziness of the 9 patch. I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. I used some mottled charcoal colored wide back fabric that they had at the store along with Hobbes batting which I also got from the store.

Crazy 9 patch quilt before washing

Here’s how it looked when it was all finished, but before washing (after washing is at the top — you can see it got more crinkly). This also has the binding which was that last step. I used a striped yellow fabric. Love me some stripes for binding.

Crazy 9 patch quilt binding

I used the method where I sewed it to the front, then wrapped it around the back and top stitched it on the front so that it caught the binding on the back.

Crazy 9 patch quilt binding back

I’m happy with how it looks on the front, but not thrilled with the back. This led me to go searching for other binding methods. So on the next few quilts, I will try those. I know, I know — hand sewing is the “proper” way. But that’s just not my way. I will do the hand sewing thing once in a while for quilts that call for it.

Crazy 9 patch quilt before washing

However, I’m still quite happy with how this turned out overall!

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Jun 29 2015

Fast and Easy Men’s Medieval Costume

Published by under Miscellaneous

A maiden and a castle

Last weekend my husband and I went to a medieval midsummer’s fair at a winery that is a castle. Medieval attire was “recommended” which meant we were definitely wearing costumes because I love medieval stuff and especially medieval costumes and I wasn’t going to miss the opportunity to wear medieval costumes at a CASTLE.

I, of course, had a medieval costume (see above). I have to admit: I did not make it. My mom bought it for me at a renaissance faire when I was in high school. I loved it. I still love it. It makes me feel beautiful whenever I wear it. And yes, I can still fully lace up the corset. Win! 😀

Medieval Men's Costume

Anyhow, my husband did not have a costume. Well, that would not do. I wasn’t going to be in costume and have him not in costume, especially after he actually agreed to wear a costume. So on the Thursday before, I ran to JoAnn’s and I picked up fabric and a pattern. I had planned out several other patterns, but unfortunately, JoAnn’s only had McCall’s on sale and I have issues paying more than $1.99 for any of the big 3 patterns (because why pay more if you know they’re going to go on sale in a week or two). Anyhow, none of the McCall’s costume patterns were very good. I needed something authentic but simple. Guess I was gonna have to wing it.

McCalls 5992

I ended up going with McCall’s 5992 which is actually a pattern for pajamas. I picked it because the top and pants were pretty simple and I was pretty sure I could make it work. Also fortunate was that I was taking a serger class this week. As a result, I was feeling pretty confident on my serger which ended making the costume look significantly more professional and more comfortable and allowed me to make pants in about an hour. More on that latter.

The top

I made the XL but probably should have made the L. I don’t have a lot of in-progress photos because I was kinda in a rush to make this thing. But I cut it out as planned. Unfortunately, the pattern calls for 60” fabric (because it’s intended to be made with fleece) and the stuff I wanted was kona solids. I bought 3 instead of 2 yards.

It wasn’t enough. 😛 

Medieval Men's Costume

So I had to piece together the bottom half to make it long enough (you can see the seam above). Fortunately, the belt that he wore fell at about where the seam was so it wasn’t that noticeable.

Medieval Men's Costume back neck facing

I stitched all the seams with tan thread that I had picked up and then serged them with white. I also serged the edges of the neck facing so they would lay flat and be clean.

Medieval Men's Costume front neck facing

I made a facing from the front and back patterns, just cutting out the area around the neck, making the front facing extra long so I could do a V cut. Then, rather than stitching on neck binding, I just sewed the facing to the neckline. When I got to the center front, I sewed in a deep V. Trimmed the seam allowances. Flipped it inside out and there you go.

Medieval Men's Costume neck tie

I added grommets using on of these tools and laced it with some leather lace I had picked up at JoAnn’s.

Medieval Men's Costume shirt trim

Finally I trimmed the sleeves and bottom with some pretty trim that coordinated with my costume. I did this by folding the edges up to the outside and then laying the trim over it so the edge of the trim lined up with the fold. This did double duty of finishing the edge and sealing off the raw edge. On the bottom of the shirt, I cheated a little. I didn’t flip the edge up up because I had made the selvedge the bottom edge of the shirt so I just lined it up with that. No folding needed.

Medieval Men's Costume arm cuff

The leftover trim I tied around his waist as a belt. Voila!

Medieval Men's Costume  shirt

The neck opening was a little big for him (it is a pajama pattern after all) so we found him a reasonable white shirt to wear underneath as you can see in the top photo. I’ll make him a better shirt to go under it eventually.

The pants

After I finished the top, hubby was happy with it, but didn’t have any pants that looked good. We tried jeans, cargo, but they were way too modern. I said I would figure something out.

So the next day before we left for the trip, I ran home and made him some pants in an hour. Yes, it took me just under an hour from cutting the fabric to finishing the hem. The only thing I didn’t get to finish was the elastic which I threaded through in the car.

Medieval Men's Costume wasit band

I had bought the fabric the day before expecting to have time to make it on Thursday but obviously I didn’t. I cut out the large since the XL had been big on him. This ended up fitting pretty well. I wanted to add pockets, but I opted for speed rather than convenience. Besides, I would give him a little pouch.

The pants were pretty straight forward. I serged all the seams — fast and clean — and plus I had all these cool new tricks from serger class for how to nicely finish off edges.

Medieval Men's Costume cuff

But basically: stitch the inside seams. Stitch the crotch seam. Stitch the outside seams. Serge the leg openings. Serge the waist top. Press the waist down. Press the leg hems up. Stitch hems and waist with a conventional machine leaving an opening for elastic. Ta da!

The pouch

Hand sewn purse closed

Since I had neglected to put in pockets into the pants, we needed something to carry phone and wallet in (because my costume certainly did not have any where to put anything — someday I’ll make an overskirt that has pockets). We had a long drive, so I hand sewed (SO AUTHENTIC) a pouch that could be slipped on the belt. Pretty simple, but I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. It really does look reasonably period (if you ignore the elastic and plastic button) and worked great.

Hand sewn purse

Hand sewn purse back and belt attachment

So that was how I modified a men’s pajama pattern into a men’s medieval pattern in only 4 hours (not counting the purse).

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Jun 25 2015

A zipper bag for workshops

Published by under Sewing

Zipper bag

This is just a fun project I decided to share. I needed a little zipper bag to organize some of my dance stuff (ballet shoes, knee pads, snacks, etc) that I use less frequently in my dance bag so they weren’t floating around making it hard to find the things I do use frequently.

I had these two coordinating fat quarters lying around so I made one of my Doo Wa Ditty Bags but a bit bigger. Essentially each side is just a fat quarter cut in half so it’s a bit longer than the ones in the tutorial.

Inside of zipper bag

So far it’s doing its job nicely!

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