Monday, March 21, 2011

Signs of spring!

Spring is in the air!  I am not a cold-weather fan.  So, the fact that it is officially spring and that warm weather is on it's way makes me very, very happy.  There are definite signs of spring around our yard, including this gorgeous bunch of crocuses that seemed to pop up out of nowhere.

Although the warm weather is starting to come outside, I've still been busy inside doing various crafting projects.  I did have one big accomplishment today.  I picked up a framed cross-stitch project that I started over a year ago! I didn't quite have this finished by Easter last year, but I did finish it...and put off framing it until this year. 

I bought the pattern at this wonderful little store in Mifflinburg, Pa, called The Village Stitchery.  I bought it because I liked the little "jelly bean" beads that were sewn onto each corner.  I also liked the yellow bunny's tail, although that had to be sewn on several times after my son got a hold of it!  I got the framing done at Michael's.  The frame is supposedly intended to be a chalkboard, but I don't think I'll use it for that purpose.  I just wanted something bright and cheerful.

I'll admit it...I still have another Easter cross-stitch pattern that was supposed to be done last year.  I have a feeling it won't be done for this year's Easter either.  But you never know!!! more picture to celebrate that spring is here.  Yippee!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Special projects

My mom and I started a new tradition this past year.  We've decided that every time she comes to visit me from Connecticut, we'd try to do a special craft project together.  Last time, we made fabric wreaths (which I should post pictures of!).  This time, we started a little embroidery project of a girl on a swing under a cherry tree.  I've done a lot of cross-stitch in my life, but haven't done that much embroidery.  I liked this project because it was simple and only took a week to complete. 

The pattern was purchased from "comfortstitching" at etsy.  I made a few changes to the pattern.  I didn't do a mirror image, as suggested.  I also changed some of the colors slightly.  Cherry's hair is a little bigger than the pattern, which did not allow me to add many facial features.  I like to think that she's being a little thoughtful and is looking down, which is why we can't see her eyes.  In reality, I think I just got a little carried away with her hair. 

Comfortstitching is owned by Aneela Hoey, the very talented designer of the upcoming, coordinating fabric by Moda called, "Sherbert Pips."  I actually originally found the embroidery at Anella's blog.  I love the Sherbert Pips fabric a lot and am considering buying some for a future project. 

Today, I spent my son Ethan's naptime cutting fabric for Blocks 9 and 10 of my block of the month club.  I need to get caught up!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

March Origami Bags...Completed!

Yet another month has now been completed in JemJam's challenge to create all the bags in Amy Butler's Style StitchesMy six Origami bags are now done.  As I mentioned in my previous posting, I did not especially enjoy making the gussets, but I think I got a lot better as I worked through them.  I also had never put in a zipper before.  I'll admit that I was quite confused on the first one, but then it all just clicked, and I realized it was quite easy. 

So, the question now is what will I do with all of these bags?  Every month, as I start the challenge, my husband asks me, "who is that bag for?" or "what will you do with that bag?"  I often don't have an answer for him, which seemed especially true this year.  Although I originally thought I wanted a whole set of these bags in the same print, I think I may give a few away.  My mom said she needed a new make-up bag, so she'll probably get one of the smaller ones.  I have a friend who is having a baby soon, so she may get the large one (which I think came out the best) filled with baby toys and diapers.  I think I want to keep the extra-large one.  I'm not sure what I'll do with it...I just like it! 

What to do with the rest?  We'll see...

I already can't wait to work on the challenge for April!  It's been a lot of fun.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

156 blocks later!

Well, our group did it!  We sewed 156 blocks to create thirteen 12-block quilts over the past year.  During our reveal party yesterday, we got to see all the blocks which are all going to make gorgeous quilts!  I was amazed by the talent and dedication in that room.  I took lots of pictures and am highlighting a few below.  Excuse the wrinkles!  Some of these squares have been in their paper bags for an entire year!

Cheryl's beautiful squares in yellow, red, gold, and white.

Leann's lovely blocks in sage, rust, and beige

Lindsey's cheerful quilt in purple, turquoise, and orange

Jeannine's contemporary quilt in white, red, blue, and brown. 
Check out the mannequin dress square!  Adorable!

Jeanne's delightful quilt in shades of brown, beige, rose, and sage

Diane's cheery squares in beige, brown, orange, and blue. 
Love the basket of flowers (upside-down in my picture)!

Jackie's pastel fabrics in 1930s reproduction fabrics.  So lovely...

Allison's gorgeous squares in primitive plaids and checks.

Jane's festive holiday quilt in red and green!

Maria's soothing colors of turquoise and green.  I love it!

Pam's splendid quilt of purple and green, including some batiques!

Bobbie's stunning quilt of pastel blue, green, yellow, and green. 
I think I see another dress in there! 

And here's mine in lovely yellows and blues.  Look at the adorable embroidered heart, sewn by Maria, who added a special touch to everyone's quilt.

This quilting experience was an absolute joy for me.  I had such a wonderful time during our party yesterday and am so impressed by the quilts.  I hope the group will attempt to do this again?  Maybe with a little break for a while?  I'll keep you posted!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Big day tomorrow!

As I mentioned in my very first post, I am part of an informal quilting group with some women I work with at Penn State.  Since last February, we've been working on a monthly block swap.  At the start of the swap, we put together a bag filled with several different fabrics.  Every month, each person receives a different person's bag and makes a 12" block using the fabric and whatever design she chooses.  Well, tomorrow is the big day in which we get our bags back.  I cannot wait! 

When this quilting group started, I must admit that I didn't want to do it.  I felt intimidated by the expert quilters and also felt rusty, as I had not quilted in years.  Well, in the past year since starting this swap, I have created my first quilt top, created numerous handbags (and zipper pouches!), and am working on Block 9 of my Kate Spain 12 Days of Christmas Block-of-the Month program.  And, of course, I bought my wonderful Bernina Aurora to replace my 10-year old inexpensive Singer, an investment that has really paid off.

I can't wait to see the beautiful quilts revealed tomorrow.  I will take a lot of pictures and share these on the blog.  In the meantime, I'm posting two of the blocks that I created for my fellow quilters' blocks.  I'm kicking myself that I didn't take a picture of all twelve that I made.  But at least I took pictures of the last couple!

This is a picture of my first attempt at pinwheels.  I am considering an all-pinwheel quilt for my next project.

The square above was inspired by Jen's recent post (at Miss Punkie Pie ) on the layer cake blocks.  I really liked her selection of fabrics and found the pattern at Moose on the Porch Quilts' "Layer Cake Quilt Along."  I did make a slight change to the order of the fabric in the squares with the rectangles.  I'd like to say it was intentional, but really, I just made a mistake and thought it looked pretty even if it doesn't exactly follow the pattern.  I'm curious to see if the recipient will like it! 

Tomorrow is going to be a lot of fun...

Monday, March 7, 2011

Gussets and Zippers...Ugh...

I've been working diligently on my 6 (yes, 6!!!) Origami Bags from Amy Butler's Style Stitches book.  I guess I would say they're coming along.  Here's the fabric that I've been using:
And another one just because the fabric is so pretty:

I really like dandelions, so this fabric really called to me.  It was purchased quite inexpensively from  I bought the lining fabric a little later, so it didn't make it into my picture.  It's pink with white polka dots. 

Anyhow, on this soul-searching Amy Butler purse journey, I've found that I've learned quite a bit about myself and my sewing likes and dislikes. 

I really enjoy the following:
  • Making handles
  • Top-stitching
  • The big "reveal"
I do not like the following:
  • Having to try to open a zipper when a bag is inside out as I missed the step where it says, "Leave the zipper half-way open in order to turn the bag right-side out. 
  • Sewing gussets.  Before this experience.  I didn't even know what a gusset was.
  • Sewing gussets on 6 bags because I am crazy enough to sew 6 bags at once.  (That includes 12 gussets on the exterior fabric and 12 on the lining for a grand total of 24 gussets!!!!  Ugh!)
  • Having the use the seam ripper on 6 different bags because I sewed the tab onto both the exterior fabric and the lining, instead of just to the exterior (once again, as indicated in the instructions).
  • Sewing gussets.  Really.  They're not a favorite of mine. 
So, my 6 bags are almost complete.  I have 5 done, with the 6th in progress.  They're coming out rather nice, in spite of my difficulties listed above.  I will say, zipper pouches are not the most exciting thing I've created.  I think I like sewing bags a bit more. 

Will post pictures soon!