Friday, February 26, 2016

The Green Bag Lady

If you haven't heard of The Green Bag Lady you haven't been following my blog for very long.
 Teresa, The Green Bag Lady, regularly offers contests to win free fabric tote bags. Normally I just share the link on my Facebook for friends. I do sometimes enter the contest since all it takes is a quick comment on her blog. The Green Bag Lady ships internationally and the bags have been spotted all over the planet.
I couldn't resist a comment during the Pink Day Freebie contest. I left my comment and guess what? That's right, I won two wonderful Green Bag Lady bags.
I love that they all have a serial number and they keep track of where all these bags are sent. She even has her pattern available for free on her site. Totally check it out. It is a great project for beginning sewers. I've used the pattern to make bags for family in California.

The Green Bag Lady also has a video to show you how to assemble the bag.

Check out the blog, enter the contests, save the planet!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Charity Quilting Update

Last Saturday Annapolis Quilts for Kids met and I dropped off this stack of quilts. All but the red one are finished. The one with red backing will be completed by another member of the group. I picked up several finished tops and a couple kits to share with friends.

2016 Charity Quilt Count: 6 (a few of these were quilted last year but weren't turned in until this year)

Monday, February 22, 2016

Bandana Cowl

I like small, one-ball, knitting projects that are easy to shove into a bag and take along. These are the projects that I work on during the 10-15 minutes it takes my husband to drive us to the super market. Or the 15 minutes one spends waiting for a haircut. Or the time one spends waiting for a doctor's appointment. Waiting for dinner to reach the table at as restaurant. All those little moments that can seem wasted.
I found this fun bandana cowl pattern on Ravelry and decided it might be a great way to use up a single ball of hand-painted that I had dyed a few years ago. The shape is interesting and the cowl works up quickly.
I plan on making the next one a little longer, maybe adding length to the garter top and bottom hems, too.
You can find the pattern, and other great things, at Purl Soho.

Have you discovered any quick, one-ball, knitting projects?

Friday, February 19, 2016

Tumbling Along

I started this project in July 2015. The fabric is from a line called La Petite Ecole by French General for Moda. This is from my disturbingly full collection of charm packs that I built up over a few years of belonging to the charm pack club offered by the Fat Quarter Shop.
This is one of those projects that starts with an idea that begins to morph. I cut the tumblers with one ruler, then switched to another ruler. In the end I'm proud of the effort. I cut and pieced this top in my dining room because we were in the middle of the move from one house to another. My travel machine did me proud and didn't miss a beat.
This polka-dot fabric is perfect as binding. I love a polka-dot binding, or a stripe, or scrappy. Okay, I like fabric.
The backing for this fabric was a print I found on the discount shelf at a cute little quilt shop in Annapolis, MD, called Cottonseed Glory. The shop is full from floor to ceiling with bolts of fabric and wonderfully helpful and supporting staff. If you're in the area, I recommend you drop in to say hello and pick up some fabric. Their buy-10-get-1 fat quarter deal will be my downfall one day.
I pulled this perfectly coordinating thread from my growing collection of So Fine 50 from Superior Threads.
The quilting for this throw-size quilt was the super-simple meander. Sometimes this is just so perfect.
Binding attached and the back signed with a date and my name. And it all took only eight months to finish. That's pretty quick!
2015 Tumbler L&E Challenge!

Want to make your own tumbler quilt and join a great community of makers? Check out Bonnie Hunter's blog Quiltville and her Tumbler leader-ender challenge.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

It Adds Up

Almost a year ago I discovered a block swap called the Low Volume Plus swap. I made a couple blocks, then I made a couple more. When I was done I'd made a pretty big stack of blocks. I sent off a stack of blocks for the swap and waited for my blocks to come back to me. The host ended up with thousands of blocks so this took a little while. The blocks I received were added to the box of blocks. you can find the block pattern for free on Craft Buds.
I pieced them all into a top and then the top waited for a backing. Somewhere along the way I found the perfect backing in a wide fabric (this rarely happens because most wide backing fabric is just terrible either in quality or print, or both) from Henry Glass.
I recently pulled everything out of the bin and got set up to quilt. This is where I realize, again, how long it can take to get ready to quilt something. It is possible that because I make so many charity quilts I forget how much work a full to queen size quilt can be. I spent over three hours designing the label, stitching it out, pressing the backing, cutting the batting, pressing the major wrinkles out of the batting, loading the backing onto the frame, loading the batting and then the top. This is before I got to make a single quilting stitch.
I decided to go with a sort of organic, all-over, wood-grain design (find a good photo of it in my Modern Mania post). It isn't fancy. It does flow across the quilt and create a nice texture. The top thread is Fantastico from Superior Threads, with Omni as the bobbin thread. Don't be afraid to mix/match your threads. It is something your machine can handle no matter what machine you have.
As some of you may know, I have a really simple long arm quilting machine. This is my Empress. A Tin Lizzie machine that is mounted on a 10' Falcon frame. The day I was quilting this quilt we had a bit of a problem getting along. She never really told me the problem, but we worked through it together. If you ever have thread tension issues, I highly recommend you check out this great video from Jamie Wallen.
After that long discussion with my machine, we worked everything out and I got back to quilting. Hours and hours of quilting. But the resulting texture is so totally worth it.
Low volume binding was the finish I went with for this quilt and I love it. I'm usually not a fan of light-colored binding, but this quilt really wanted to work right to the edge of the piece.

I recently read this post by Mandy (Mandalei Quilts) about her QuiltCon quilt rejects. This is a topic that comes every year when QuiltCon sends out the rejection notices. I include this here, because it seems that right now the Modern Quilt Guild doesn't have a place for some of today's long arm quilters. Mandy discusses this briefly in her post and it does make me wonder if I'm in the right place when it comes to quilting.

I also caught up with the Crafty Planner and her great interview with Cal Patch.

Monday, February 15, 2016

A Pop of Color

Because I was distracted by knitting up a worsted shawl (winter weather does strange things to my brain) I had time to go shopping and pick up some more yarn for my fingering weight shawl.
A friend had told me about a knit shop that I hadn't been to before. I was in the nearby area so I popped in to see if they had some superwash fingering weight that would coordinate with my two cakes of Knit Picks Stroll, a hand-painted fingering weight yarn. I stopped into the Knitting Boutique and found this fun pop of green-yellow that will create what I hope will be a fun pop of color in my next West Knits shawl. If you're in the area, you should check them out. They have locally spun and dyed yarn in a variety of fibers and colors.
I sat still with Inkscape long enough to come up with a basic design for an in-the-hoop stuffed heart to celebrate Valentine's Day. Drawing the heart shape wasn't terribly difficult. Creating the in-the-hoop embroidery design was the hardest part. It still needs work, and I'm not sure this is the best font but I really like how it turned out. I need to dig into my embroidery software a little more to see what I'm missing.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Dotty Rays in Worsted!

I'll admit it. I've been distracted into knitting a worsted weight shawl. I picked up this yarn a couple years ago at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. I couldn't resist the fun Mardi-Gras colors from Dancing Leaf Farm.
I caked it up, added a solid from Knit Picks, and cast on.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Winding Up Fun

My Aunt Betty brought me a bag of fingering yarn. I'm going to have a blast playing with these.
Step one was to grab these two hanks of yarn and get them caked up for knitting. This is Knit Picks Stroll hand-painted in the colorway Make Believe. They always have something on sale and their yarn is reasonably priced and great to work with.
Here is my ball winder and yarn swift in action. You can buy your own from Knit Picks. This is by far one of my best knitting tool purchases.
Step two was to pick a pattern. I decided to try out Dotted Rays from West Knits. I had such a great time stitching up The Doodler that I wanted to try more from Stephen West.

Now all I need is the time to get this cast on. What kind of projects have you started this year?

Monday, February 8, 2016

Tiny Zipper Pouches!

Many moons ago I purchased a stack of 5" zippers from Zip It Zipper Supply. (If you want to buy zippers in a rainbow of colors and a load of sizes I totally recommend you check out the shop. Best deal on zippers I have found so far along with awesome service.)
I bought these zippers to make a stack of dice bags. I picked up a stack of black zippers and a rainbow of colored zippers. You can find a tutorial for making one of these zippered pouches at my Zippered Dice Bag Tutorial page. Even after all those pouches (there were more than what you see in the photo above) I still had zippers. This means that when I find a tutorial for a project that uses a 5" zipper I've got to give it a go.
This time I came across the Circle Zip Earbud Pouch from Dog Under My Desk. I grabbed some scraps and got cutting. I used my amazing circle cutting ruler for this. I've used that ruler for cutting circles and half circles and have yet to use it to cut curved pieces for a quilt. If you have some 5" charms you can make this pouch. I cut these out one night after work but had to set them aside for finishing on Saturday.
I rarely use my pinking shears, so this pattern was a nice way to dig them out of the drawer. Working at this scale can be challenging. Go slow when stitching and you'll be happier with the finish.
If I was going to make these again might rethink the batting choice. I like the substance of the pouch, but it could be sturdy and not bulky if I used a sturdy interfacing instead of batting.

This was a fun diversion. Have you come across any fun small projects?

Next tiny pouch will be the Teeny Tiny Zipper Pouch from So Sew Easy.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Zippered Pouches

Next meeting of the Baltimore Modern Quilt Guild we will be swapping zipper pouches. I decided to make the smallest of the Open Wide Pouches as my swap pouch. I really love putting these together. They are so quick and easy and the finish is awesome. For this bag I used some scrap batting to give it a nice soft shape.
I couldn't resist making two at the same time. Sometimes it just doesn't take much longer to make two.
Such cute little bags!

Open Wide Pouch is a free tutorial available from

Zippers from ZipIt Zipper Supply on Etsy.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Charity Quilting: Dancing 9-Patch

Here is the finished quilt! Using these pre-made blocks to put together a quick and fun charity quilt was just great. Quilted with Superior Threads So Fine! The block pattern is available for free from Quiltville.
Machine finished binding made for a quick and sturdy finish. If you want to see how I machine-finish binding, check out my binding tips & tricks page.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Tool Tip: Pattern Storage Idea

Do you have a collection of patterns that are just sheets from your printer?
Pages that fall from the table and spill around the base of your cutting table? Pages that get lost and then you have to print another page? Well, I'm here to tell you that I've got a plan to help with this. I propose the poly snap envelop (you could use a plain paper envelope and glue the pattern cover to the front if you aren't a fan of poly). I picked up a five-pack of these semi-clear poly envelops from the office supply store. You can usually find them singly in colors, or in a five-pack of clear. I want to easily see what is inside so I picked up the clear.
I have this stack of patterns (well, this stack of patterns). They were mostly stacked here and there on my cutting table. They were my test subjects.
It may seem like such a small thing, but to me this is just awesome! I don't want to be printing patterns again if I don't have to. This also keeps all the cut out pattern pieces corralled into one place so I don't lose a piece, or two. I picked up some more of these envelopes and as I find or print other patterns I'll be tucking them inside.

Do you have any quick tips for pattern storage? I'd love to hear about how you stay organized.