WIP: Splendid Sampler Project #1

So I’ve got these blocks just lying around. They are pretty and I loved making them but I had no idea what to do with them.

Oh yeah…

That’s because they were apart of a larger project that I never completed! A little something called The Splendid Sampler.

It’s been awhile since I’ve played with these blocks but it’s time for me to do something with them. So I decided to pulled a few out and put them together into something I can use around the house. Plus it would give me the ability to practice my free motion quilting on smaller projects.

My first project (yet unnamed) is going to be a table topper/runner. I pulled three pieced blocks and sashed them with black and then bordered the whole thing in a complementary cream fabric from the same line.

The top turned out super cute. I stuck with only pieced blocks so that they seemed uniform and not too busy.

Then I decided to try my hand at a little pebbling. I did some practice runs before hand to get my tension and pacing down. Then I took to the borders with a black Aurifil thread so that if I did make a mess, it would be hard to see.

Probably the best idea as my pebbling definitely needs work. 

As I battled with my quilting and trying to make decent little circles, I realized that my batting was making a complete mess. Fuzz everywhere… And a few of my seams decided to pull and strain, which annoyed me but not enough to pull it out and start over.

Had I used any other lighter color for the backing, the fuzz probably would bug me so much. But up against that black, all I an see is the nasty white fur all over.

During some of my time off, I’m planning to get back to pebbling and practicing. I’m also recording my process for our YouTube channel so stay tuned for any updates!

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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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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!

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Pillow Fight Anyone! 

I’m not great at finishing projects. I have a bunch of started projects just sitting around waiting to be completed.

I’m not sure what it is about my inability to finish things. The only thing I can imagine it being is my extreme distractibility. Ask my husband, he’ll tell ya. When I clean house it’s a wave of jobs started as if I picked up the broom and started sweeping then saw the laundry needing folding so I left to do that with the pile of dirt still in the middle of the floor but then I realized the bathrooms needing cleaning so I ditched the laundry and headed in to wipe down the counters.

See? All over the place.

Last July I made a table runner for some family members and had a bunch of left over scraps.

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So I started using the scraps to build hexies. I really loved the process of making them and even took them on the road with me. The only problem? What to do with them.

That’s when I put them together into a flower and hand stitched them to some more scraps from the same projects. This was an easy project to carry around with me so I took it to football practice, the doctor’s office, you name it and I took my hexie flower there.

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But then it sat for a long time. It wasn’t until I moved and had my new sewing room all askew that I saw it laying there and decided to jump in. I think because I was in one of my “cleaning” moods and I was organizing everything in sight, I saw my project and all the stuffing for a pillow just laying there and it was easier to use it rather than find a place to store it.

Thus began my work to create the smallest, cutest fourth of July pillow ever. Using the cover I made and a simple backing I made a case and stuffed it with the cotton lying around. Sadly I ran out. So I improvised…

One of Jake’s stuffed dinosaurs had been attacked and ripped open by our ratty pets. They chewed through his toes and pulled out the stuffing for their own nests. Since this lovey was pretty much done for, I decided to use it to finish stuffing my mini pillow.

And voila!!! My mini hexie pillow made just in time for the summertime festivities. I’m still debating whether to keep it myself or give it to the family members I made the runner for. I guess I could make my own runner and keep the pillow. If I have enough to make another.

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Quilt As You Sew Hotpad

Periscope has become one of my favorite places to hang out. I hear my phone notify me of a live broadcast and I flock to see who is sharing and what they have to say. I’ve learned so much and have really felt apart of the Honest Craft Roomies community.

While on one day, Marcia, from Crafty Sewing and Quilting, was sharing a simple hotpad quilt as you go project. We watched her work and listened to her share with us when she announced that she would send the pattern for her hotpad to anyone participating in the scope that day.

I was thrilled! I’ve been wanting to make some small projects just to practice some simple techniques and to improve my quilting. Plus I find that when I have a successfully completed project under my belt, I’m more likely to pick up another project and work on it.

So  I emailed Marcia and received the pattern with a simple request, to tag her on Instagram if I got around to making one. I made sure to do just that and share with you, my readers, my finished hotpad made with my Java set by Deb Strain for Moda. If you want to purchase and use this pattern, check out this link to her Craftsy store for the step-by-step instruction with pictures.

I love the rich colors of this fabric set and I’ve been waiting for a reason to use it again. Having this pattern from Marcia and the itch to work on a quick project for some instant success had me chomping at the bit to go. So I began with some strips, cutting them between 1.5-2.5 inches wide and varying the fabrics. I tried to allow it to build organically with enough variety but with just a touch of organization.

I used a heat resistant batting so that this project can be used as a hotpad or even a mug rug. This was a first for me and while I see its purpose, I may not go out of my way to make sure I have some on hand and might just continue using whatever batting I have available. But it’s nice to know that if I gift this, the batting will protect any surfaces or hands!

After everything was sewn together, it was time to trim the strips down to the batting so that I could fold and bind with the backing fabric. That’s when it happened…

WHOOPS! In my haste to continue working, I snipped my backing fabric. Damn!

Yeah, it’s not supposed to look like that. And try as I might, it would not work for the binding so I ended up trimming it off and going the old fashioned way with my binding. I made a simple double fold bias binding and used a decorative stitch to seal the deal.

Not too shabby! I used a red thread for the quilting and I like the way it came together. It really matched the fabric well. And it came together in under 4 hours. I am bummed I didn’t get the chance to use the backing for the binding but that just means it’s time to give it another go and this time be a little more careful with the trimming.

Thanks Marcia again for sending me the pattern and giving me the opportunity to create my own hotpad!

If you want to see some of my 2015 finishes, some WIPs I have for 2016, and my new projects for this new year, then check out our recent YouTube video sharing some 2015 successes and all that will be for Hobbies Up To Here in 2016!

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TGIFF: My First Dresden!

Having my mom as my partner in crime is definitely a blessing in disguise because she’s constantly trying new things and it encourages me to step out of my comfort zone and do the same.

Now my husband may disagree only because when I get motivated to try something new that means trouble for our bank account. NEW FABRIC!!!! Must have rulers!!!! Oh he must cringe when I tell him I’m trying something new and I must go shopping! Ha!

In all honesty, he’s just as encouraging and supportive even if he’s cringing a bit inside. Thanks, love!!!

Before the holidays hit, my mom attempted her first Dresden in the form of a baby quilt/wall hanging. I was so taken with how quickly she put it together and how beautifully it looked that I had to try my hand at my own Dresden plate project. So, I started to cut into my Joyeux Noel set to make my own holiday wall hanging.

I pushed to have it finished before Christmas so I could use it and I literally finished it Christmas Eve!! And I took that thing with me to each of our holiday parties so I could display it.

Christmas Eve binding!

When it was all said and done, I was in love!!!

This project took on a whole different look once it was completed and I was so surprised. It has a rustic charm to it and it looks really well done even though I can see a few areas of improvement. But the overall effect is a well put together piece.

I used a different binding technique which was new for me. I did the double fold bias tape method. I have mixed feelings with this. I think it works BUT it could use some work. I think what saved my crooked lines is that I used a thread color that closely matched the binding color. Had I gone with a contrasting color, my mistakes would have stood out boldly and made the overall look messy and amateurish.

I have to say my favorite part to all of this is my quilting. Yes, I’ll toot my own horn. I LOVE MY QUILTING!!!! The echoing pattern radiating out from the Dresden really seals the deal. Again, my lines aren’t perfect and my start and stop points are messy but the choice to echo outward to the border and then leave the border plain with only a single framing stitch around the edge brought the whole thing together.

I love it! It’s tight, neat, and clean without being too busy and burdening the fabric with too much of a quilted pattern.

Now as I said, there are areas where I could use some work. First, my start and stop points. There was A LOT of nesting issues and I know that’s more an issue with me than with my machine. My machine works perfectly still and I make sure to clean it out, dust it off, and I switch out  my needles regularly so that it stays in tip top shape.

This is an area that I do need some help. I want the BACK of my quilted pieces to look as good as the front. Luckily this is a wall hanging so it will most likely be seen from the front only. If you look closely in the picture below, you’ll see how on the back my starting/stopping points are messy, bunched up, and there are some stitches that have even come undone due to not being totally tacted down.

While I wish the stop/start points were neater, the back is probably my favorite part. It looks to me like an art deco piece. And even though I LOVE the back and how it came together, I forget that I have the option to use two different colors, one in the bobbin and another up top. While this looks good to me, I’m still curious how it would have looked if I had used the deep rusty red thread in the bobbin that I used along the binding.

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So many things to think of and so many options for next time. And there will be a next time. I’ve fallen in love with Dresdens and I can’t wait to make my next one!

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Hobbies Up To Here Episode #18

It’s been two weeks TOO LONG but we’re back with episode #18!

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What we learned from this episode is that we don’t do well with late night podcasting! This one goes off the rails a bit but hang with us and enjoy the wild ride!

Hope everyone enjoys the weekend! We do celebrate Halloween and we’re looking forward to the costume parties and parades and all those goodies!

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Our Hobbies Up To Here Sew Along is all done! We’ll be posting the official finished products some time this weekend. For now, check back to watch our progress on our table runners for Halloween!

Week One
Week Two
Week Three

If you haven’t discovered Periscope yet, we highly suggest checking it out! It’s a free app that allows you to watch or broadcast live content and interact with your viewers at the same time. Dori and I both have discovered a love for Periscope.

The #honestcraftroomies hashtag on Instagram helps you to link with other quilters and see the weekly schedule for the Periscope hop that has been taking place Tuesday and Thursday evenings. We’ve had such a positive response to the hops that we’re now broadcasting two nights a week!

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Hobbies Up To Here Episode #17

Hey! It’s Friday! You know what that means…

PODCAST TIME!!!

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Bring on da funk!


No not that kind!

The kind when you find yourself in a rut. How do you work through it? We talk about our issues with losing our creative mojo and how we work through when we just don’t want to!

Shout out to all my Periscoping ladies! There are so many of us tuning in once a week or so to chat about our quilting habits and hobbies. Check out the hashtag #honestcraftroomies on Instagram to join in the fun. If you’d like to participate check out Kitty at Night Quilter to be added to the schedule for the next hop!

And thanks to Christa at Christa Quilts and Gina at Gina Pina for popping on last night to participate in my evening scope from my craft room. And to Lorinda at Laurel and Pine for saying “Good morning!” before we started our podcast.

Our sew along is taking some hits as we find it harder and harder to make time to work on our runners. But we’re still aiming to finish before Halloween happens so we can display our hard work!

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Check out our side bar on the right for some great website and link ups around the blogosphere to enjoy!

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Sew Along Week 3: Borders, Backing, and Quilting Galore!

A day late but never fear, we are here!!!

This week both of us had company in from out of town plus a lot of events going on so it was a weekend without sewing…EEKK!!!

That also meant no podcast this week and our Sew Along is a day late. BUT, we have an update and our next steps to begin wrapping up our table runners for Halloween.

Before going ahead, check out Week 1 and Week 2 first to see our process from the very beginning.

Don’t forget to check out our past podcast episodes if you haven’t already. We talk about all our hobbies and then some!

For week 2 we focused on our appliquéing. Our tops were done and we had an idea for our appliqué images but we both had very different ideas on placement and design. Which is what makes this whole project awesome. We each have similar  goals but will end up with different results.

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We initially went with the original size from the link but realized as we went along that it’s actually a bit too small. So we amped up the size and made it bigger! Due to this being my first attempt at appliquéing I decided to leave out some of the smaller details and simply added a second leaf to my pumpkin. I also attached it to the center of my runner.

My mom chose to make TWO pumpkins, one on each end. Her thought is that she tends to place her decor right in the center of her runner so having the images on the ends would keep them visible and the table runner usable. Makes sense!

As you can see from our fabric choices below , we have some similar thoughts about fabric and color but we are VERY different. While we both chose to go with three colors and range from orange to yellow, I went with a deeper orange and made a wide jump to a lemony yellow at the center. My mom stayed closer in tone with her colors and her change from the darkest shade to lightest has less of a jump and more of a flow.

Mine (left) and my mom’s (right)

Test run

To make sure I didn’t screw up my whole runner, I was smart and took my time making a smaller pumpkin to do a test run with.  I was really happy with the outcome! I used a black thread and a blanket stitch to give my design a Frankenstein like appearance and I think it worked out well!

My finished project!

While I think overall I did a pretty good job, my tight corners and smaller spaces need some work! I couldn’t remember where the needle would land with the stitch so I would pivot incorrectly and it got a bit jumbled up on my leaves.

For my mom, she went a completely different direction. Using the same stitch, she actually changed out her thread and used a different color for each piece. She went with yellows and oranges that matched her fabric. So not only did she do TWO pumpkin, but she also had to change out her thread for each new fabric!

She even has a nice green for all of the smaller details and the leaves. Fabulous!

Now it’s time to start wrapping things up. Time for our week 3 steps!

Week 3 Instructions

  • Using your choice of multiple fabrics, cut 1 1/2 inch strips from one and 2 1/2 inch strips from another. Then, attach the smaller strips to the patchwork top followed by the larger strips around the outside.
  • Press and trim where needed.
  • Layer using the top with the borders attached, batting, then a backing of a new fabric or a previously used fabric. For a fold over binding that matches your backing fabric, make sure to leave 2-3 inches or more of the backing fabric extended beyond the end of your runner.
  • With basting pins or spray, adhere the three layers together, smoothing out as you go.
  • Quilt with your choice of pattern. Have a blast designing as you wish!

Week 4 we’ll trim the layers and get to binding. How we will bind our runners hasn’t been discussed but for now we’ll focus on layering everything together and getting that quilting finished.

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Sew Along Week 2: Time To Appliqué

Week 1 was a huge success! Not only did we both get our tops done in time but we also really liked how they came together. Nothing is worse than working hard on a project and not loving how it turns out!

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My mom did add an extra row and my son did accidentally get a bloody nose while holding my runner, but all in all they came out great! If that is the worst of the issues we run into, then I’ll be happy!

Now we’re ready for week 2! Appliqué!

Through the wild world of Pinterest, we found our template for our pumpkin. Kathryn over at The Scrap Beach posted her layered pumpkin template and we fell in love with it.

We decided that we would appliqué before we added borders so that we wouldn’t have so much extra fabric to manipulate while sewing down our designs. For now that seems like a GREAT idea but we won’t really know until we’re done so make sure to check back and see how it worked out for us.

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Using my mom’s homemade light table to trace and cut out out pumpkin appliqué pieces really helps to see through the designs and onto the appliqué paper, giving us more precision when tracing. My mom is a step ahead of me due to the supplies being handy in her work space so we were able to see that the pumpkins are a little too small.

Yeah…it’s cute but not quite what we are going for. With some elbow grease and lots of patience, we were able to enlarge them a bit using my mom’s  printer/copier. Now we have two sizes to work with if we choose.

My mom has her fabric all picked out with a sparkling orange as her biggest pieces, a lighter orange with some white and yellow texture to the second layer, and the top being a muted yellow.

Even though her colors look great and there is enough fabric for me to cut from it for my own pumpkins, I wasn’t sold on it. It just wasn’t ME.

Now these….THESE are very moi!

So together we went to Joann’s and I played with all the fabrics! I love fabric shopping. I’d rather shop at a quilt store, especially some of the smaller ones near us but sometimes Joann’s is all I can manage time wise (and cost wise). I was a little pressed for time so I had to skip the smaller mom and pop shops.

Smartly, my mom brought her runner with her pumpkin already ironed on. I was able to match the fabrics to her runner and sift through all the colors until I made my decision. I tend to walk into our local shop and take over this little workbench they have set up near the fabric section. I spread out all my choices and play with everything I think looks good.

And here they are!

In the end I went with simple patterns but a gradient change from dark orange to a light lemony yellow. Now for our plan!

Week 2 Instructions

  • Piece and trim runner top.
  • Choose three colors/patterns to layer for your pumpkin and two for your leaves/tendrils.
  • Using the template for the pumpkins (or your choice of picture) print and resize as needed.
  • Trace your picture onto paper backed fusible webbing.  We used Lite Steam-A-Seam2.  Remember that your traced image will be fused to the back of your fabric, so take note of the direction of the design and flip the image before tracing it, if needed.
  • Cut out the images on the fusible webbing with a bit of a margin around each piece.
  • Peel one side of the paper backing, and place sticky web side to the wrong side of your fabric.
  • Cut out each appliqué piece.
  • Apply to your runner, layering from the bottom to the top piece.
  • Then appliqué into place using thread and stitch of your choice.

Check back on Friday for our podcast when we dish on our experience for week 2 of our sew along. If you missed last week’s podcast, listen here and find out what worked and what didn’t.

Peek at our wonderful side bar there and see a few of the great link ups we play along with. Who knows? Maybe you’ll find a new blogging friend to follow!

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