Monday, December 21, 2015

May the Romper be with You

Anybody who's followed this blog for any length of time know's I'm kind of a nerdy sewist. I've also given birth to a son this year, and picked up garment sewing as a less-time-consuming alternative to quilting. So while all my friends on all my message boards were putting together christmas dresses for their daughters (and yes, I do have one: she is 3) I was sewing a decidedly NON-christmas-y first outfit for my son: a Star Wars romper for him to wear in celebration of Star Wars: The Force Awakens (premiering Dec 18 in the US).

To start with, I decided on a pattern I've been eyeballing for a while, the Sweet Comfy Romper by Puperita. And I picked up a great Star Wars Print on eQuilter, which is even greater in person. The fun thing about Puperita's Romper is that there are contrast pockets and cuffs show the lining fabric, giving me a great excuse to trot out my manipulable color card and pick the exactly *perfect* shade of Kona cotton to go with my feature fabric.

I spent *hours* on this card last year when I took a "Color Intensive" course (currently being offered again - I highly recommend it), and it was nice to see it pay off.  (I settled on Kona Copen in the end).

Putting this together was definitely more time-consuming than I'd expected. I probably spent a good 10-12 (interrupted) hours cutting it out, sewing it together, and fussing with buttons and seams. Admittedly, part of this was putting together the PDF pattern (which I usually keep) and learning my buttonhole foot, which hopefully I won't have to figure out again. And, while wrestling with legholes on a 6-month sized outfit wasn't exactly my favorite, at least it wasn't another diaper cover.

Overall, I am pleased with the results! The romper did turn out bigger than the advertised size (perhaps due in part to the touted "relaxed fit"), but I was able to get out 6-month-onesie wearing son into a 6-month sized romper (more or less) by adding a second set of buttons on the shoulder straps. And, I can always cut off the buttons/unroll the legs as he grows!

He seems to like it fine, and I am one proud mama: in every sense of the word.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

A Dress for A Rainy Day

A few weeks ago we got our first rain of the season, and it got me in the mood for a project I've been meaning to complete. One of my dearest friends from high school had a daughter this past March, and I've been meaning to make her a "welcome to the world" gift.

My friend lives in San Francisco - and it's always raining there, so close to the ocean - so I simply couldn't resist using these colorful umbrellas from Bonnie & Camille's April Showers (Moda) for the feature fabric. I used the Tie Dye Diva Easy Peasant Dress pattern again (for those counting, this is time #3) and this time, I did it with 3/4 length sleeves and a ruffle. The accent fabric is Moda Weave in Crimson.

I also added a unique personal touch for the first time: since this is my fifth garment, I celebrated its completion with some custom twill tape labels from MommieMadeIt on Etsy. It took a little while to get these beauties in (and I designed them myself using MSPaint), but they were totally worth it.

Now, to send this off to its intended wearer. Hopefully it will brighten a rainy day for her!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Projects on Hand

Oh, the siren call of new projects and new fabric. Since my stashing space is somewhat limited, I always try to alternate my with "projects on hand," ie, all the stuff I squirreled away (wisely or unwisely) while working on previous projects. Having finished A's party shirt, and being within a stone's throw of completing my son's dinosaur quilt, the other night I pulled some of my most recent additions to the "to-do" list just to keep myself motivated.

Easy Peasy Peasant Dress #3:

If a thing is worth doing, it's worth doing twice, right? Or maybe the third time's the charm. I'm not sure *which* cliche keeps me coming back to this dress, but it sure doesn't hurt that it's cute as heck and a pretty fast sew. Given that my "quilt-worthy" friends seem to be having daughters at approximately 5x the rate I can actually make a quilt, this is a good alternate gift that I have *some* chance of getting in the mail before a first birthday.

This particular combo is intended for a friend who lives in San Francisco, where it is rainy and foggy year round. Hers is a spring baby, and I bought it back in May. The umbrellas are for the body, and the red Moda weave will be fore the ruffle, sleeves and diaper cover.

Easy Peasy Peasant Dress #4

Yes, I know. It was not wise, but I'd been admiring this forever, and then the Fat Quarter shop had a sale, and, and... I still haven't made a Peasant dress for my own daughter. Though I think I'll probably miss out on it this year, It's still a nice fantasy. The snowman is for the front (obviously), the red snowflakes are for the back, and the geometric print would make good sleeves and ruffle. Of course, in laying this stuff out for photos, I noticed that the moda weave from above would *also* make for good sleeves and a ruffle...

Gum Drop Pillows

One of our local quilt shops has one of these made up, and every time we go there, my daughter goes nuts for it. So, long ago I sprung for the pattern there, and then late last year I came up with a combo of fabrics I liked for one.

THEN we re-did her room, in a my little pony theme. And although I was just going to stash the purple star print below (under consideration for the birthday shirt, but ultimately rejected), I found it while cleaning up my sewing area and thought, you know, those two would look good sitting together in her room...

Of course, I'd have to buy more of the MLP feature print, making this "half on hand" at best. Maybe 2/3 if you count the pattern.

Gracie Ruffle Skirt

Honestly, I am starting to reconsider my fabric selection on this one as well, but... I love the look of this pattern! And my daughter loves a good ruffle-ey skirt. I really love all the Lily's Garden fabrics separately, but together... I'm not so sure. I've probably got some time, though, since there's plenty of other stuff to do.

And of course, no list would be complete without some of my "in progress/on hiatus" projects. I'm usually pretty good at working on the same projects consistently from start to finish, but the year I got pregnant with my daughter (now 3) resulted in some exceptions. I find it's hard to regain momentum after I have lost it, but I'd really love to be using these now, if I could just get them together:

Star Wars II:

One of my rules of quilting is, "never make the exact same quilt twice," and it's a good rule, but I just had to break it for this one. Star Wars I was completed in 2012 for a friend who was putting together a Star Wars themed nursery, and it was my first foray into applique. My husband thought it was such a cool idea that I couldn't bear NOT to make one for us as well, despite my rule already being well in place at the time. I had the foresight to make two of each of the applique blocks at the time (every quilt has duplicate blocks!), but then I assembled one and... promptly lost momentum for the second.

Some of it is probably performance anxiety (since this will be our own quilt) and some of it is definitely the creative conundrum of "having solved the layout problem once, I can't envision anything else any more" when ideally, I'd rather the two quilts not be identical. But with my husband super into the X-wing miniatures game, and the new series coming out in December, it sure would be nice to have this to enjoy in the hubbub.

Christmas Traditions:

And speaking of "hubbub" and "December"... Christmas is quite the biggie. Since 2011, I've been working on a pretty awesome quilt that showcases the history of the Christmas Tree (see the planned outcome here). It's slow going, because it's been a huge skillbuilder for me (I had to learn both paper piecing and applique to work on it) and also because, well, quilts for *yourself* don't get "overdue" like quilts for babies and friends' special occasions do.

Unlike Star Wars, this has been a consistent (if low priority) project on my shelf. Right now Christmas traditions is entirely pieced - front and back. I basted it, and now it's just waiting for that first bit of quilting. I can do it!

Or at least, I can do *something* from this list... honestly, the top half sounds like a lot of fun to make, and the bottom half sounds like a lot of fun to use. But I think with some time and some decent self-control (and as always, the siren call of being "allowed" to purchase new fabric upon project completions...) I should be able to turn most of these WIPs and wishes into finished products.

Linking to WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced because, well, this post is well qualified!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Territorial Quilt Show

Little kids and quilt shows may not always mix, but what can I say? We like adventure. So when the Territorial Quilt Show came to a town "near" me, I convinced Mr. RLQ that it sounded like a fun family thing to do, and we packed up the kids and went.

I would like to show you some pictures of my family at the show - or at least of the show grounds - but it turned out that wasn't in the cards. Fortunately, the show was extremely well attended, and my daughter (then 2) was HUGE into the quilts. Trying to follow an excited 2-year old through the crowd *does* tend to keep one on one's toes!

Fortunately, everyone was really nice, and I think most of the attendees were more amused than offended by my daughter running from quilt to quilt yelling "Mommy, this quilt has butterflies! This quilt has cats!" or stopping in front of a Grinch quilt to say "what's that!?!"

Someone even gave her a "judge's glove" so she could run her hand up and down her favorite quilt reverently, which then led to her "feeling" every quilt on the row through her glove (show rules said attendees could handle quilts IF they wore gloves).

My husband and 2-month-old son were also a big hit: the announcer was so intrigued at their presence that she stopped to give him a short interview (apparently a man and his infant aren't the target demographic for a quilt show - who knew?).

Unfortunately, our daughter's enthusiasm for quilts wore out a little before mine did, so we had to cut our visit short while people still liked us. But, I did get to run around and take pictures of a few of our favorites, and buy a few raffle tickets for this gorgeous Singer featherweight, which I sadly did not win. :-(

Next year I think I might leave the kids at home (they were warmly welcomed, but made it difficult to take things in at a leisurely pace), but I am still glad we all went: I would have hated to miss such an awesome (and friendly!) quilt show.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

My Little Birthday Shirt

I'll admit to having lost a little bit of momentum on my Dinosaur quilt, but for a very good reason! My daughter just turned 3, and I made her a party shirt for her birthday.

This year, the party was My Little Pony themed. Last year I made the ModKid Kyoko Shirt, and really liked the results, but this year I wanted something a little more playful and feminine. So I chose Foo Foo Thread's Peasant Girls' Easy Tunic Top on Etsy.

This was less a "pattern" than a tutorial - in fact, the only "pattern" that comes with purchase is a template for the armholes - otherwise, the entire garment is constructed of squares with strategic gathering. Since I'm a quilter, that made it super easy to cut out for me.

Putting it together wasn't too bad either - I'm an "advanced beginner" at best when it comes to garment sewing, and I was able to put this together in 4-5 (interrupted) hours. My main complaint was that the photos in the tutorial were pretty small and could not be zoomed in on - I spent plenty of time either resizing the PDF file to look at the photos (and then losing the ability to see an entire line of words on the screen) or squinting and leaning in to look closer. I have a 15" monitor and 20/20 vision, so I don't think that problem would be unique to me.

The MLP fabric came from, and the blue vine print was specifically acquired from a Local Quilt Shop for this project: This combination was a little "out there" for me composition wise, and I agonized about it quite a bit, but I'm glad I stuck with it.

Overall, I am pretty pleased with this shirt! I love the bow in the back, and despite some early skepticism, the sleeves shaped up really well. My daughter was excited to wear it for her party, and we'll see how much use it gets going forward.

Linking up to Sew Cute Tuesday at Blossom Heart Quilts to participate in some community fun!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Difference Between "Done" and Done

Once Upon a Time, when I put the last stitch in the binding of a quilt, I was done. Finished! On to the next project. Over and out. I am feeling some sweet nostalgia for that time right about now, because I am in the new " 'done' but not done" stage on my son's dinosaur quilt.

I've completed the binding, and if this were a regular quilt - the kind used for tummy time or cuddling on the couch - I would wash it, and that would be that. But this is intended to be a centerpiece to my son's nearly-completed nursery. So, it needs a rod pocket.

If there's one thing the mother of a 2-month old infant *doesn't* have, it's extra time. And this rod pocket has to be stitched on by hand! Sigh. I'm halfway there, but because I'm constantly interrupted (and back at work now) it's slow going.

I'm also tackling a hand-stitched dedication, much as I did for Star Trek and ConVivial Company.

This project-within-a-project is coming with me to doctor's offices and pump sessions, anywhere I think I can get a couple of stitches in. I know I'll be glad for this little piece of legacy in the long run (I have plans to go back and do one for my daughter's quilt too), but summer is giving way to fall here, and I am SO READY to tackle a fall project instead.

And I'm ready to have this hanging in little I's nursery! Once the dedication is stitched, I'll still have to attach it, so it sounds like Christmas Traditions and its fall ilk will have to stay on the backburner a little longer. I may take a quick break to sew a birthday shirt for my daughter, but I hate to let this linger in the to-do pile any longer than I have to.

Oh well. At least I'll have a lot to be proud of when I (finally) finish this. Done, as it turns out,  is better than "Done," even if it takes more work to get there!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Dinosaur Panel Play 2

....Continued from Dinosaur Panel Play 1

Of all the different layouts I tried for the panel I'm designing around, my initial favorite was the "Three Cornerstone" (or as I thought of it, "gap-toothed sidelight") configuration, seen below.

This layout doe a nice job of highlighting the "center" panel (now in the upper left), and the overall composition is nice. I thought it would be fun to put all the dinosaurs all against a blue background and then "frame out" the dinosaurs in the darker blue from the fabric line, but it is still hard to fill those empty spaces. Both the smallest dinosaurs and the stripe with the scientific names of the species came from the striped fabric in the collection (see DPP1), and they do a good, if slightly repetitive job of it. So, I went to my LQS "for Inspiration" and came back with these: 

Ostensibly the blue fabric was for my blue background (and I did buy a lot of it), but the others were just too good a match to resist! And they looked so good together. Clearly, I had no choice but to sew them together and make a rainbow...

So I went back to the drawing board; I also did something I'd been loathe to do before: fold the individual dinosaur pictures up so their names were no longer visible below the dinosaur. Folding them out of the way meant working with dinosaurs who were no longer centered (and indeed, in some places it really limited the amount of fabric I had to work with before I cut off Dino feet), but it did mean I could go back to the "center panel and four cornerstones" look with a quilt that seemed more proportional.

And for for all my dreading, it didn't look half bad! Now I had a logical place to *put* my rainbows, and the color variety also made it easier to add in a dino names stripe I'd been admiring earlier. When I added those to the top and bottom it looked like this:

I debated extending the "dino names" stripe to all four sides of the quilt, but playing around a bit, it just seemed too uninspired. I liked the idea of incorporating more dinosaur images - but needed them to pop a little more when I set them against the rainbow. So, my mother came up with this idea:

In short, I "bound" each of the small dinosaur pictures in a "contrasting" color (the same fabric as the sashing), and now I can use a straight stitch to attach them to the quilt in the quilting stage. It's still a form of applique, but I get a border I like, and I don't have to worry about raw edges. Here's a "dry run" of the final quilt top, with the dinosaur pictorials just pinned on.

Not bad for an improv design!

Linking up to Freemotion by the River's Linky Tuesday and Blossom Heart Quilt's Sew Cute Tuesday because, why not?

Monday, September 14, 2015

Dinosaur Panel Play 1

To review, I am trying to turn this panel:

Into a quilt for my now 7-week-old son, using my own ability to design on the fly and tips found in the book Panel Play by Barbara Becker (see my full mission statement here, written while I was still pregnant). To start out, I cut the panel apart and played with the overall layout of the feature fabric. First off, I tried a central panel, and four cornerstones:

This layout does put the most interesting element in the center, but it just *feels* aproportional to me. It also makes for a larger quilt than I'd intended (45 x 60 rather than 36 x 45 or so), and so I went ahead and tried some other things.

A "sidelights" look does emphasize the four-dinosaur panel more, And it *feels* more proportional than the first one (yay rule of 2/3!). But, I'm not into blocks in just one place, so the space between the brontosauras and the tyrannosaurus would need its own strong "pictorial" design element - and I didn't want to spend too long on complicated piecing or applique.

Removing another "side singleton" does give me more room to work with. But since the two spaces had different aspect ratios, I can't just do the same thing twice. I did spend some time brainstorming on this configuration, though, and added in some other fabrics.

To Be Continued In Dinosaur Panel Play 2...

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Quiltus Interruptus

And just like that, my major WIP for the last 9 months is finished!

Born on July 16, little I entered the world at 9 lbs 1 oz and 20.5 inches. He and I are both doing well, and Mr. RLQ couldn't be prouder. I is also enthusiastically greeted by A, who is 2.5 years old now and excited to be a big sister.

Of course, this little man (born at 39 weeks 4 days) is probably going to take a bite out of my quilting time. And, like most second kids, I am a *little* behind on the featured quilt for his nursery. I'm tracking the progress here and here, but here's what it looks like right now.

Needless to say, I might be a little behind. but while he is waiting to snuggle under this one, he can snuggle with me instead!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Dinosaur Fun

39 weeks pregnant is... perhaps not the optimal time to start a quilt. With my daughter, I put the final stitches on her Winnie the Pooh quilt while contractions were 12 minutes apart (and Trick or Treat was done several months beforehand). But as is often the story with second children, I was too busy chasing the first (and having a rough second pregnancy) to get ahead of the crafting game. So although I've had the feature panel picked out for a while, I am just now getting to the nuts and bolts of fabric selection and composition.

I started with the Have You Seen My Dinosaur panel, by Wilmington prints. I love the colors in this, and it's hard to find a dinosaur panel that says "boy" without screaming it. Serendipitiously enough, I actually bought this panel in September of last year, exactly one month before our son went from "gleam in our eye" to "baby in my belly."

I love panels, but working with them is often a challenge. I wasn't terribly huge on either of the "suggested" designs that got released with the line (Designer PDF), so my mom (who also quilts) suggested a book called Panel Play.

I've done improv quilting with panels before (most notably on Spookyville), but the Panel Play book ups the game a bit - it has some neat ideas for putting panels in a "frame" of diagonal stripes, or making certain design elements appear to "spill out" of the panels, and it encourages a lot of creativity and use of a design board to "design as you go." Given that I have no plan yet, but want the quilt oh, next week or so, such an approach is not without its appeal.

Next up, the creative process. See Dinosaur Panel Play 1.

Monday, July 13, 2015

More Easy Peasy Peasant Fun

Why mess with success? As a reminder, I am 37 38 39 weeks pregnant and way way WAY behind on ALL of my sewing projects. Most notably, stuff for my own son (due July 19th), but also on a number of birthday gifts that were planned to be handmade.

My niece V turned 1 in April, and she was next on the list for some handmade finery. I was happy enough with how the Octopus Peasant Dress turned out that I decided to use the same pattern again; it's simple, the lines are toddler-friendly, and early reports from the first recipient were positive.

This time, I cut the drama and went to my local quilt shop, who stocked an irresistible print from Michael Miller's Oragami Oasis.

I'm not as nimble in this stage of the pregnancy, so the dress took a little longer this time around. But I got it done in a couple of sessions and was very pleased with the results:

I love the way the border print gives the dress a deliberate "direction," and skipping the ruffle this time around led to some nice, clean lines that I think I'll probably copy again. I just got word that my niece received the dress this past weekend, so now all that's left to do is wait for her to be big enough to wear it!

Friday, April 24, 2015

A Dash of Rainbows!

This was another fun weekend project - and it took almost no time at all! Little A is a My Little Pony fanatic, so when some pre-shirred MLP fabric showed up in my local Hancock's, I just *had* to figure out how to use it.

It turns out there are a ton of tutorials for making sundresses out of pre-shirred fabric on line, and after reading a few I was ready to strike out on my own. The straps are 8" x 2" strips from my stash folded over twice and sewn, and I went for the two-side-seam model on the body itself.

The whole thing took *maybe* 45 minute to whip up, and little A *loves* it. In fact, the hardest part of sewing it was getting the dress back from her once she tried it on for "strap placement" purposes. Here's hoping for a summer where it gets a lot of use!

And thanks to A for being my lovely little model.

Monday, April 20, 2015

How (not) to sew a dress expediently

Step 1)
Receive a lovely handmade gift for your daughter on her second birthday (which she is crazy about and wears all winter), and decide you'd like to repay the giver with an equally thoughtful gift for *her* daughter.

Step 2)
Identify adorable Octopus Panel online (for friend, who is octopus-crazy), and pore over pattern books at local fabric shops. Select the perfect one to show off the octopus. Round out the supplies for this dress with a some lively coordinating prints from your LQS.

Step 3)
Conceive Child. Get kind of morning sick. Ugh.

Step 4)
Push through to make dress anyway. Pull pattern out of envelope and discover that - surprise! there's a big pleat in the center of the apron that gives it its shape. Ooops; that's not going to work with the octopus! His head will get chopped off.

Step 5)
Panic. Search through PDF patterns on Etsy, downloading 2 or 3 potential candidates, and ultimately and decide on the Baby Peasant Dress by TieDyeDiva.

Step 6)
Realize that fabric selection is a little... less appropriate for new pattern/style, and order more fabric online from Gee Gees Quilting.

Step 7)
Wait for fabric to come. Get EVEN MORE Morning sick. 

Step 8)
Fabric comes, yay! Decide at this point that you are better served making the dress in size 18m than size 12, since steps 1-7 have taken you until well after the child's 14-month natal anniversary.  Cut into fabric.

Step 9)
Realize you made a mistake. Blame morning sickness. Order more fabric anyway.

Step 11)
Third Purchase arrives! Tie Dye Diva pattern is simple and straightforward; make it in a day.

Step 10) Make a complimentary diaper cover the next day (from another TDD Pattern).

Step 11) Mail the goods to friend a mere 4.5 months after child's birthday, and 6 months after your initial fabric buy.

And... That's how I spent my hiatus from sewing. Honestly, once I got on a roll the dress was short work, but getting all my fabrics and patterns lined up took most of the time. I am pretty excited about this dress though - It was easy to put together and turned out really nicely. Incorporating the panel took a little bit of doing, but now that I've done it once, I wouldn't blink at doing it again.

I will admit I was a little sad that my first project in over 6 months (and actually the project before it, now that I think about it) won't be sticking around the house. But it's always exciting to send a handmade gift to its recipient, and I'm glad to have this "late" first birthday gift off my conscience!