A New Year For New Things

Every year the same thing happens. I get the bug to start fresh. Try new things. Jump back into old projects that I promise I’ll actually work on and finish “this time”.

This year was no different than last year. Last year I went head first into hexies and paper piecing. I wanted to improve my skills and step outside of my comfort zone. Again, I’ve got that need to take on something new.

So why not attempt some 3D sewing? I’ve had a kit laying around my sewing room for over a year, a kit I picked up during the 2015 Quilter’s Run. It’s been moved around and misplaced a few times but I finally dug it out to give it a go.

It came with everything I needed. From the fabric to the matching zipper and instructions. And the only things I had never really done was the zipper and the lining. But the instructions seemed clear so I jumped into my new project with confidence.

Ah, starch, my best friend. I really like to use starch when I want my seams and lines to be as straight as possible.

The first step in the process was to create two patchwork panels, one for the outside and one for the lining. Once done, I had my husband help me pick which would look best for the outside. Then I had to muddle my way through the lining as I had never used the heated webbing for the lining. After a bit of googling I found some instructions and was able to bond the webbing to the lining.

Then came time for the sewing of the zipper. I’ve NEVER attached a zipper before. NEVER. Hell, I didn’t even know I had zipper foot to play with. And this point in the instructions was a little hard to understand. Once I played around with it, even opened and closed a few baggies I had laying around for a better visual, I was ready to sew.

And ta-da! A cute little baggie that I made all by myself! And it turned out to be super easy! I could have easily made this first one in under an hour but I took a moment away before I came back to finish it up.

The zipper was easy and came out looking so nice. I did have a seam that didn’t sew together cleanly and some of the lining was peeking out of a hole in the seam so I went in, ripped out a small portion, and worked it back together to grab that hole and close it up.

And as I mentioned, there was talk of a ribbon to be attached as a handle but I didn’t have one in my kit. I could have made my own but I just decided to focus on finishing.

After figuring out the instructions (which got a little tricky at one point) and making my way through this baggie easily, I can see how they are SO addicting! I could seriously sit and make a few in a row as gifts. I’m happy to have taken a chance and tried something new.

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2017 WIP List 

A big part of a quilter’s life is half-done projects, partially started quilts, and almost completed gifts. What can I say, it’s a BIG part of our culture.

It could be that new fabrics and patterns are coming out all the time and something new will catch our eye and we feel it call to us. Or may we can get a little bored with our current WIPs and just feel the need to start fresh, something different.

This year, after watching The Minimalist with my husband, I got the itch to pull out all my WIP and UFO quilts and make it a point to wrap them up. To keep myself accountable to this goal of mine, I’m listing these quilts here and I plan to revisit the list each month.

#1: The Friendship Quilt (for my husband)

This quilt goes WAY back. Like summer of 2015 WAY BACK. The kit was a gift to me from my parents. When I pulled it out and started cutting it, my husband liked the look of the batik fabrics and the earth colors. So I deemed it to be his.

I finished the top and bought the batting and backing for 25% from my local quilt shop, The Orange Quilt Bee. Then I decided to go with a free motion wood grain pattern for the quilting. That seemed like an awesome idea in the beginning and so far it’s looking beautiful but I ran into a few issues. Firstly, it’s going to take me FOREVER to quilt the full sized quilt on my own. I’m wishing now I would have picked a simpler pattern or sent it out to be done.

Then I found a fold in the backing that was too big to leave alone. I mean I could have just kept going but I wouldn’t have been happy leaving such a glaring mistake. So this quilt lingered for a LONG time just sitting there while I avoided the task of taking out the stitches to fix it. Finally, over winter break, I finally got around to fixing the problem and I’m ready to start quilting again.

This quilt is the furthest along in the process of getting finished.

#2: My CIRCA Quilt

I don’t know many quilters that quilt for themselves. So many of our projects are for others and we are often left to say goodbye to many of our beautiful finishes. Not this one…

This one is for me!

I love this CIRCA kit and I fell even more in love with it when I framed it in cream and black borders. It’s also been a long time in progress, another 2015 start. The top has been long done but I really stalled on the backing. I needed to sew together two red pieces and then frame them in the same black as the top. But, for some reason I just couldn’t get myself motivated to do any of that.

Again, over the winter break, I got the itch to start wrapping these projects up so I pulled this top out and finished piecing together the back. All I need now is my batting and to baste it together. The quilting on this will be simple, just simple squares and straight lines. Maybe even a little stitch in the ditch.

With the Friendship quilt being so complex, I’m happy to keep this quilting simple. and straight forward.

#3 Marvel Quilt (for Jake)

Oh man, this is a definite UFO. This project is for Jake and was started a long, long time ago. It’s going on 3 years now and it’s started and stopped me so many times. First, everything needed to be cut. There were NO pre-cuts for me to work with so I was stuck cutting everything myself.

Then, I decided to do my own block. Yeah, this decision is really holding me back because of the process of piecing together isn’t smooth and it’s time consuming. Had I gone with a block that had a pattern already created I may have moved faster to complete them but as it stands, I’m still making the blocks and I may soon run out of my sashing material. Yikes…

I have two rows completed and on my design wall but I have six more to go. I’m aiming for eight rows of six blocks, giving me a full sized quilt for my growing boy.

#4: Puzzle Box Quilt

Over the span of 2015, we made a lot of new friendships both online and off line. We also connected with other quilts that we happily learned from and shared with. In that time, we got to know Christa Watson, both as a friend and a fellow quilter. She puts out some amazing tutorials and information for quilting at home and I decided to join her website. In doing so I received a free pattern.

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Seeing the pattern and knowing that I had a jelly roll made for this pattern, I starting cutting for it. It’s a project that stays at my mom’s house so it rarely see the light of day. But it definitely needs to be put on this list so that it gets some much needed attention. I’m still cutting away at it and this year I plan to get further along!

Four projects, all at different points of finish. I’m quilting, basting, piecing, and cutting my little heart out with the intention of finishing some or all of these projects this year.

What are YOUR 2017 WIPs or UFOs?

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Dream Design Wall

Around Thanksgiving, I got the bug to get my craft room in shape. For a while it had been no more than a storage space after we moved in. Any furniture we didn’t want to get rid of and any special paperwork that needed to be sorted was shoved into my crafting room. Nothing was done with any of it and the piles kept rising so I slowly closed my door and forgot that the original intent of that space was to give me some creative space.

Well, I was feeling the need to sew again and I knew I wanted to make my space functional for not only when I wanted to sew but also when I had a friend or two over to sew with.

After cleaning up and getting the space ready, I knew what I wanted next: a design wall! And I had the space for it. One of my walls was completely free of doorways or windowsills and I knew with the right pieces I could pull together a rather inexpensive space to put up my blocks and quilted pieces.

Before heading to Home Depot, I did a little research and decided to follow this tutorial from SewCanShe. Seeing how easily one could be put together, I was pumped and ready to go.

And so were my guys. At Home Depot we spent around $15 for two panels of 4ft x 8ft insulation. I wasn’t looking to make a beautiful design wall, just a functioning one that did what I needed it to do.

Then I headed to Joann’s and bought some fleece on sale for 50% off. This is where I made a mistake. Most tutorials for making a design wall suggests buying fleece or flannel with the width of 108″. As I went in, armed with my 50% coupon, I headed to the wall of fleece bolts and picked a light buttery yellow fabric. My craft room is small and anything TOO dark would have made it feel cramped so I wanted to keep it light.

But in my haste to run home and get started on piecing it together, I accidentally bought the 45″ wide fabric and only cut a single 3.5 long piece. Proud of my decision and my ability to pull everything together quickly, I headed home and set to work.

Laying the boards on the ground in my living room, I lightly sprayed some 3M adhesive and wrapped the boards tightly in the soft buttery yellow fabric. Once the adhesive took hold, I went back over it and used a stapler to really hold it down. As I moved down the first board, I started to panic a bit. If I was seeing things correctly, I would run out of fabric once I wrapped the first board and trimmed the excess off. OH DAMN!

Yeah, I had bought the wrong width of fabric which meant, even with my coupon and the sales at Joann’s, I had to purchase my fabric TWICE. In the end I was spending twice as much as I needed to had I bought to correct sized fabric in the first place. BLAH!

After finishing the first panel, we nailed it into the wall. The height of of the panel is 8ft which fit perfectly and gave me a completely covered wall from ceiling to floor. We don’t have any molding at the top but we did have some baseboards to work around. Instead of cutting the insulation boards, we just affixed them above the baseboards and left them intact. There is a bit of lift along the baseboards but you don’t really notice that at all.

After my second trip to Joann’s, I wrapped the last panel and then attached it to the wall in the same manner. I noticed once I had them up and side-by-side that I didn’t pull the fabric as taut on the second panel which bugs me but not enough to pull them down and fix it. And had I gone darker with the fabric, it would have nicely covered the decals on the panels, another thing that bugs me but not enough to take them down and fix the problem.

In the end, all the little bugs and pet peeves don’t matter much because I know have a completely covered wall that allows me to put up my WIPs and UFOs. No longer will projects languish in my drawers, out of sight and out of mind.

While I sew, I can see it looking back at me, reminding me to keep working. It allows me to play with my colors and fabrics, placing them and then removing them based on my needs and my creative whims.

And being such a visual personal, this is a great tool that will help me see my projects before I sit down to make them.

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Make It Meaningful Episode #59

It’s a new year and we have a new podcast episode for you!

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We like to set out some craft goals for the new year and together we chatted about some favorites from 2016 and what we plan to accomplish in 2017.

This year, like last year, we participated in the Best Of link up over at Meadow Mist Designs. Our top 5 Hobbies Up To Here Posts for 2016 is posted and ready for your viewing pleasure. And congrats to Jake for his Vader quilt taking the top honor!

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Our favorites for 2016!

Dori: The Disappearing Pinwheel

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Katie: Christmas Table Runner

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I’m participating with my friend Alida and her Quilt Along: Growing Up QAL 2017. Hopefully I’ll have more success with this quilt along than I did with the Splendid Sampler. Dori and I both have a long list of projects we’d like to  wrap up this year so definitely check back for our progress!

Both of us highly recommend the Netflix documentary The Minimalist. We’ll be looking at our stashes and our craft rooms to see what we can let go of or what we’d like to use. The plan is not to buy anything new and either use, swap, or donate what we have. Our plan is to make what we have meaningful and useful!

We hope your holidays were wonderful that you have a great beginning to a fresh new year!

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Top 5 Hobbies Up To Here Posts of 2016!

It’s that time of year again, folks. Time to look back and review all that we have accomplished in the past 12 months.

Last year we looked at our top 5 posts of 2015 and had a blast seeing our progress, our accomplishments, and all of the ways we stepped out of our comfort zones to try new things. You can check out our 2015 post here to see all of the lovely things we did last year.

Over at Meadow Mist Designs, we’re having a link party again where bloggers from around the web are sharing their very own top 5’s from 2016. There are no rules and anything goes! You can share top commented posts, best tutorial, most likes or shares. Anything you want to commemorate as an accomplishment for the year.

Now that we’ve taken a peek at what our 2015 year of posts were like, let’s see how 2016 came together! And don’t forget to click the badge above to view all of the other great posts celebrating a year in review with all of our friends from around the web!

#5 Post With The Most Comments

TGIFF: My First Dresden!

Our post with the most comments (21 comments total!) is actually a finished project from 2015 that I didn’t get to post until after the new year. It was the post about my first Dresden and how much I love that little wall hanging. I was very proud of the quilting on it and this year, the moment the season was upon us, I took out that Dresden and hung it in my craft room.

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#4 Post With The Most Likes

Journaling For Me!

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Hobbies Up To Here Episode #28

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Meal Prep Monday: Casseroles Are LIFE!

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Well ladies and gents, it looks like we have a three-way tie! The posts listed above all came in with 8 likes each! And they were a variety of topics from cooking to a podcast episode to journaling. What I love about this year’s top liked posts are that they all represent our varied hobbies and interests!

#3 Highest Viewed Podcast Episode

Hobbies Up To Here Episode #32

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Heading into year two with our podcast and we’re still loving it! We get to sit down together to chat and share some of our interests with each other and our listeners. This year we branched out beyond just our mad love for quilting and we tried some new things. Our top podcast post for 2016 is Episode #32 with 63 total views! Dori shared her finished Dresden baby blanket and we all got to ogle at her beautiful quilting.

#2 Most Viewed Video In A Post

The Splendid Sampler: Block 1 Hearts Aflutter 

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We’re changing it up from last year and sharing with you the most watched video linked within our posts. It was from back in our Periscope days when we would live stream some of our hobbies with you! This video was viewed 17 times!

#1 Highest Viewed Post of 2016

TGIFF: Jake’s Darth Vader Quilt

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This year the honor of the most viewed post, with 530 total views (WOW!) goes to Jake and his Darth Vader quilt!!!

While the majority of our posts are about our own finishes or what we are working on, Hobbies Up To Here is really a whole family enterprise. My husband and my dad are big supporters and their names and hobbies get mentioned throughout the year. But they aren’t the only ones! Our little man, my 10 year old son, has also shared his hobbies and interests here and there, too. And this year he made his first quilt top, an accomplishment that he is truly proud of. Congrats, my little man!

It’s been an amazing year with a lot of new interests, lots of learning, and the chance to meet, in person, so many of our friends from our on-line quilting community. We hope you enjoyed following along with us this year. We’ve had an awesome time and can’t WAIT to see what 2017 brings us!

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TGIFF: Seminole Table Runner

I’m not sure what it is about the holidays but every year I get the wild hair to start something the week before Christmas that I MUST GET DONE by Christmas.

It happened last year with my first Dresden project that turned in to a holiday runner.  I was literally sewing the binding on before we left for our family gatherings! I was so proud of it that I took it with me so it would be used as a part of the holiday decor at each house we visited!

This year was no different. My husband went to Green Bay for a Packer’s game and went out of his way to find a quilt shop and bring home a kit for me. How thoughtful! Well, I started that project on Monday with the intention of working on it with my friend while the kids played together. That partially happened: I got to work on it but not with my friend because my son got very, very sick. 😦

The first part of this project is linked here. Check it out so see how the runner top came together!

Since that Wednesday post, I’ve been stuck at home with a sick kid and a lot of rain. So I’ve poured all of that pent up energy into sewing. I hit up Joann’s Wednesday night with a few coupons and swatches from the runner to audition backing fabric.

I got down to four. The decision was tough as so many worked really well with all the colors or at least complemented them.

I ended up choosing that upper left fabric  with the poinsettias and ribbons. It had enough of each original color in it to tie the whole thing together while having a bit of gold sprinkled about to give it some holiday flare.

Then I sat down to sew. Now the biggest issue I had was that I wanted to quilt these grand things and really go ALL OUT with my designs. But as I started with a red thread on the red squares, I chickened out and stuck to what I know: a meander on the red and some straight lines on the green. I used red and green thread to blend in to the color square I was working on.

It’s been a long time since I’ve quilted something using my free motion foot and I forgot that I tend to hold my breath when I’m quilting. As I took off and made my first stitches, I totally caught myself NOT BREATHING!

It’s an odd thing…

To keep things moving and to simplify my job, I had my side-threading needle handy to bury my thread as I went. This way I wasn’t going back and having to seek out where I started and ended. Instead I was doing it then and there!

I decided to attach the binding to the back and fold over to the front where I pressed and clipped it down. Originally I started sewing the binding from the front to the back and I hated the way it looked. It gave it a “fringe” that I didn’t like. I think I used this technique WAY in the beginning with one of my first quilts and while it worked for me then, now I’ve progressed to a point where I know I can do better.

So I decided to attached the binding using the “stitch in the ditch” method for a quick and clean look. I did alright, much better than I have in the past with this method, although I did have a corner to fix and some areas where I missed the binding and had small gaps.

And before the clock struck midnight, I was done! I was aiming to do some of my best work (really focused on pressing and starching my fabrics before and during the process) and I feel I really did a great job!

All the fabrics seem to work well together. My binging is not too shabby (although it could still use some practice). My quilting has really come a long way and I like the flow of the two types; straight lines and the meander.

I used pins to hold down my binding and I took my time to measure and cut carefully and yet, it’s still not completed flat and one end is a quarter inch wider than the other. I’m still working on achieving a more perfected rhythm to the whole thing. I’ll get there someday!

But hey… I started this runner on Monday and I finished by Friday. I’m proud of my self for sticking with something from beginning to end, trying some new techniques, and even going back to some old ones and working on improving them. Those are some big improvements in the way I tend to work so this is a serious accomplishment for me!

And this weekend it will travel with me to all of the holiday parties we have lined up. I may even leave it up until we go back to school. I mean, why not? It’s beautiful and I want to leave it out so I can enjoy it as long as I can!

Check out our side bar for some great link ups. This post will be added to the list of other great finished over at Crazy Mom Quilts!

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Best of 2016 Link Up Party

It’s hard to believe that 2016 is coming to a close. For some, it’s a relief. It’s been a tough year for many and we’re all glad to see it end. At the same time, many have had great years with lots of good news.

Ether way, the year is almost over and that means it is time to share the BEST of 2016!

Meadow Mist Designs is again hosting this Link Up and will be opening for links on Dec. 26th. We’ll choose the best posts from 2016. Everything from most comments, highest amount of likes, most views, even favorite finishes!

There are no rules except to look back and congratulate yourself on a year well done!

We participated in this link up last year with our Best of 2015 post. We listed the posts from 2015 that hit some high points and this year we’ll do the same. I can’t WAIT to see what 2016 was like for us in terms of this blog and our little podcast!

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WIP: Seminole Table Runner

I’ve got a wonderful man in my life. Not only is he my best friend but he is a great guy all around.

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Recently he traveled all the way to Green Bay to see his favorite football team play in the snow. He’s nuts, we know. Leaving the mild Southern California fall/winter weather for the freezing temps of Wisconsin to sit through a Packer game at Lambeau field just because he loves Green Bay that much.

But that’s not what makes him great. While there, he went to Manitowoc to see the sights and take a few pictures but he also went looking for a quilt shop for me. And while there, he picks dup a beautiful Terry Atkinson Christmas table runner kit.

It was a wonderful surprise to receive when he came home. And a beautiful one too! Once I was out of school and on break, I decided to dive in and give this kit a go. It seemed clear cut and simple enough that I could put it together by Christmas.

I started on Monday night and put a good 3 hours in. I made sure to press everything before cutting and to be as meticulous with the instructions as possible. I wanted to do a really good job (not that I don’t always want to do a good job but sometimes I just want to get done more than anything).

I slowly made progress and found the instructions in this kit really easy to understand! I’m usually so turned off from  patterns because they seem to be poorly written and hard for me to understand. I’m so visual I do best when I can see the information as well as read each step.

So far so good! I’ve made it to the point that I’m ready to add the inner borders and then I just have to cut the thicker borders to wrap up the top. img_0786

A friend is planning on coming over tomorrow to sew with me so I’d love to have the whole thing basted and ready to quilt by then. After the kiddos bedtime tonight I plan to sit down and get the top finished. I’ll have to dig up some batting and maybe even shop for a little bit of backing fabric if I don’t have it in my stash.

Crossing fingers I can stick to my sewing schedule so that I’m not rushing to finish it like I did last year with the Dresden wall hanging that I was literally binding on Christmas Eve!

For this post and other great WIP posts, check out the side bar for link ups around the web!

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Puttin’ On The Glitz Beauty Talk Episode #58

Well, hobbyists and crafters. It was bound to happen. We finally recorded our LONGEST episode!

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Almost 2 HOURS LONG! So sit down, get comfy at that sewing machine, and hang on for a fun chat about foundation, a review of the Luminess Air system and a fun guest appearance at the very end.

Dori shares her experiences with individual lashes based on this tutorial from A Crafty Fox.

We play around with her new Luminess Air system and even include a mini live review as I give it a go!

My mom gave us a review of her experience with the basting gun, as promised.

Our guild meeting plans got rescheduled (boo!!) due to real life, like soccer and a holiday duties at school. But never fear, we still plan to make it out to our first guild meeting in January!

We also got a featured post mentioned over at Rebeckah’s Treasures!

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I Bought Myself A Gun…;)

This one isn’t for self protection, or to go out and bag my own Christmas turkey.  To be exact, it’s a basting gun!  It came highly recommended by one of the employees at my local Jo-Ann fabric store, and I thought, why not?  I love gadgets, and my hubby was itching to try it out himself.

Soooo he and I had a Jo-Ann date, and bought this Dritz basting gun with 500 tacks and an extra refill pack to be sure we wouldn’t run out.

As soon as we got home, Reg immediately set to work lol!  I spread out my Curved Log Cabin quilt on the floor, and he began basting.

Talk about easy!  I was concerned that squeezing the trigger would hurt my hand…nope!  I was also worried that the needle used to insert the tacks would harm my fabric…nope!  The holes are no bigger than a basting pin.  The next concern was the distance between the head of the tack and the end piece.  Would there be too much loose fabric, allowing the quilt sandwich to shift while quilting?  Nope!  Here’s a photo of the spacing for reference.

I felt basting with this gun went smoothly and quickly.  The next test was actually quilting with the tacks in the quilt.

This proved to be a bit trickier than I wanted.  The only way to remove the tacks, is to snip them apart.  I used an older pair of scissors, and carefully cut when I got close to a tack.  Removing the tack’s two pieces was a bit of a nuisance at times.  Sometimes the bottom piece disappeared.  I lifted my sewing table insert, and yup, the errant ones  slid between a crack in my sewing table.  I didn’t want it ending up in my bobbin case, that’s for sure!  Oh, and like pins, don’t sew over them.  I sewed over one, and I had to cut it apart bit by bit (the needle sewed right through the plastic), or totally unquilt an entire line of quilting.  I was successful at removing the plastic pieces, but what a pain lol!

Not a bad way to baste, but honestly, not necessarily my number one choice.  The cutting part slowed me down more than I’d like, and of course, there’s the fact that refills need to be purchased.  For a smaller project, I think this would be my go-to choice.  Larger ones?  I’m still a fan of spray basting.

Do you have a favorite basting technique?  Please share!

Hugs,

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