Friday, November 27, 2015

Let It Begin

Doing things in order is a thing, the kind of thing I usually do, which is why today, with Thanksgiving behind us, the Christmas season really begins. Yeah, I've had a few red-cupped lattes, and stashed some Christmas fabric destined for gift bags, but otherwise, that's it. Yeah, it'll be a very full December.

A couple of things I always try to fit in are handmade gift bags and tags. They're a whole 'nother thing I really enjoy. The making hasn't started yet, so for now, I thought I'd repost two of my favorites, both my own tutorials.

First, the Trim-Tied Gift Bag, which is handy, with the ribbon attached. My favorite is made with a linen-blend, as show below, but the tutorial tells how to make a lined version using quilter's cotton as well.

As for tags, I make mine with quilted scraps. Born in desperation one Christmas Eve, they're fun to make, and use up those festive Christmasy bits from your other projects.

So what's your favorite Christmas make, or what's on your list to do? And though I have a collection of tried-and-true gift bag tutorials, I'm always happy to learn of more.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Modern Sampler :: Block C

After Block B, Block C for the Modern Sampler Quilt quilt along looked pretty simple, though the curves of the cup and that handle required a bit of concentration. I ended up hand-appliqueing the handle to its background before connecting it to the cup, and after that, things were pretty matter of fact.

I used 'framing' fabric with a little more contrast than the first 2 blocks, including a small text print. But I kind of like the result, and will use them sporadically in other blocks. So here's what I have so far.

So far, so good, eh?

Linking up with the Modern Sampler Quilt link-up.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Studio Seven :: Customized Sewing Machine Cover

Years ago, I made a perfectly good sewing machine cover using Camille/thimble blossoms' Just Swell pattern, and it served me very well until I purchased a cone of Aurifil 50wt late last year. Quite simply, the original cover no longer fit. And even though I sew frequently, if not covered, my machine gets very dusty very quickly. So I've been wanting to replace my method of tossing a small quilt over the machine with a cover that actually fit it.

Back in the summer, when I made the paper-pieced Geometric Sewing Machine by Kristy/Quiet Play, I though it would make a fun front for a sewing machine cover. Nowhere did I find a pattern for a cover to accommodate a cone, so I finally had to wing it.

This isn't a full-fledged tutorial with photos of every step, but those willing to take a gamble too, here's what I did, with all seams being 1/4":

   1. Measure in front from table to top of thread holder - the tallest point of your machine. [front height]
   2. Measure in back from table to top of thread holder - the tallest point of your machine. [back height]
   3. Measure widest portion of your machine. [width]
   4. Measure deepest portion of your machine. [depth]
   5. For the front panel, I added 1" to my front height and width measurements and framed my paper-pieced block to become that dimension. I placed it on top of a piece of cotton batting and quilted. (If you want to do dense quilting, or have more leeway, quilt your front panel before trimming to size.) Of course, any block or design as a focal would be fine or even a single fabric.
   6. For the back panel, I added 1" to my back height and width measurements, placed it on top of a piece of cotton batting and quilted. (If you want to do dense quilting, or have more leeway, quilt your back panel before trimming to size.)
   7. Sew front and back panels together along top edges and press open.

***Note that while I thought my front and back heights might make more of difference in how I assembled the final piece, it really didn't, so if I was to do this again, I'd probably make one long panel, as shown below.

8. For the end pieces, choose an ultra firm fusible stabilizer as a base. I used pellon Peltex 71F. See diagram below for measurements of end pieces. For the top curve, I used a roll of painter's tape with a 3" center. I drew right on the non-fusible side of the stabilizer, fused onto my fabric, then cut out. You'll need two, one for each end.

9. Now that you have your front/back panel and end pieces, use them as templates to cut out lining pieces.
10. For outside of cover, find center of panel piece on one side and mark with a pin (or marker). Fold one end piece in half lengthwise to find the center top, and mark it. I found it easiest to start sewing the pieces together at this point, down along one side of end piece. Then flip as needed and sew down the other side of the end piece. Repeat for opposite side. Now your outer cover is complete. If needed, trim any pieces necessary so the bottom edges are even all the way around. My trimming was minimal, but there was a bit.

11. Repeat step #10 with your lining pieces. Turn right-side out.
12. Slip lining into outer cover so right sides are together. Pin along edges, matching corners. Sew seam around this edge, leaving an opening of 10-12" long back edges, back-stitching at beginning and end of stitching.
13. Turn entire piece right sides out, and tuck lining into cover, pressing edges well. Press seam allowance in at opening and pin. Top stitch along entire edge, catching seam allowances of opening securely.

So, I made it up as I went and it turned out ok! It is tall, but it serves the purpose well, and besides....this project was on my 2015 Q4 Finish-A-Long list!

For previous studio updates, see hashtag #aqtstudio on Instagram, or individual posts below:

Linking up with Sew Modern Monday.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Steeped in Tradition

This adventure all started with a very simple block. Improvisational and minimalistic, it was created for Bee Sewcial, and fulfilled my goal to "make it mean something."

So off it went to my bee-mate Hillary/entropyalwayswins, but I often thought of it after, drawn to the way the inspiration of modern steeped in tradition had resulted in a very sparse log cabin block. So finally, I tried to recreate it and then some.

This kind of quilt just sort of evolves. I never knew what the next side of the 'cabin' would be until it was. It was also hard to know when to stop. But after letting it sit for a while, I guess the above block felt right as a focal point, so I simply framed it and let it be.

Built with a variety of neutrals - both prints and solids - on a background of gray interweave chambray, these fabrics made such good companions.

So what kind of backing does a modern traditional block deserve? What else, but another, this time in bold scrappy solids.

Using a rich Aurifil 50wt #5004 (Grey Smoke), I quilted in a squared spiral, reminiscent of the piecing rhythm of the most traditional log cabin block.

Measuring just under 36" square, finished off with matched binding, and dubbed "Steeped in Tradition," I'm pretty sure I want to visit there again.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Tuesday at the Table

This may be one of the stranger Tuesday at the Table posts, but the truth is, we like eggs on top. Though I'm not the egg-on-a-burger fan that hubby is, almost anything else is fair game. So when I saw the cookbook Eggs on Top: Recipes Elevated by an Egg by Andrea Slonecker, I couldn't help but buy a copy. And no, it's not rocket science to put an egg on top, but it's a fun book just the same. 

The first recipe I tried, Baked Sweet Corn Polenta with Tomato Sauce and Eggs was a keeper for sure. Yum. And so were the Sage-Brown Butter Eggs - basically sizzling some sage leaves in melted butter, then frying said eggs as that butter browns. We put ours on top of cheesey, bacon-filled breakfast potatoes. oh yeah.

Huevos Rancheros, Breakfast Pizza, and Poached Egg and Arugula Salad Bruschetta are just a few of the egg-topped dishes we've enjoyed. There's plenty more enticing ideas in 10 Dishes that are Better with an Egg on Top and 27 Things You Should Put an Egg On (or Inside). Plus check out the #eggsontop hashtag on Instagram. What do you like eggs on top of?

Monday, November 16, 2015

Just Her Size

As a crawling baby, grandgirl loved for me to tip over the scrap basket so she could fuss around in all those colorful, soft scraps. Once a toddler, I'd push that basket over to the design wall, and she'd cover it with her own creation. Well look out! Grandgirl now has her own machine.

It's a Janome 11706 3/4 Size Hello Kitty Sewing Machine, and with her mama's help, she's already working on her first project - a sleeping bag for her dolly. From what I hear, sweet girl loves the stitching much more than the prep work, not unexpected for a 5-year-old attention span. But it's a start.

After we celebrated grandgirl's birthday over the weekend, I couldn't resist sewing up a pincushion for her, and chose Fabric Mutt's Deluxe Pincushion from her book, Sew Organized for the Busy Girl. It was quick to sew up, and of course I made it about as pink as I could.

As if the quilted 9-patch pocket on the front wasn't fun enough, so was the bit of accent ribbon on the side. I did have some tape measure ribbon like Heidi shows in her book, but I thought grandgirl might enjoy the sweet little deer.

I filled the pincushion with crushed walnut shells. and apparently overfilled a tad, as I had a rough time sewing that last 1/8" around. So perfect it's not, but I still think grandgirl will put it to good use.

Linking up with Finish It Up Friday.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015


Progress seems achingly slow 'round these parts. But I did manage to piece a back for the minimalistic log cabin quilt I showed you several days ago, using the same interweave chambray in pepper that I used on the front. Instead of the cabin logs being neutrals - this time they are all bright solids, and all scraps - thus the random use of color.

Since the logs on the front of the quilt were quite skinny, I decided to make the ones on the back chunkier, and I'm regretting that choice. Still, I moved forward with quilting, and now I'm working on binding this piece up. Already I know it's not turning into quite what I had seen in my mind's eye at the start, but so it goes ....

Linking up with Scraptastic Tuesday and W.i.P. Wednesday.

Monday, November 9, 2015


Well it's the last month of the year as far as Bee Sewcial is concerned, as we're taking December off. Leanne/shecanquilt asked for improv blocks with no negative space, maximalist, and all the colors. After 2 months of neutral minimalism, I think we were all pretty excited about Leanne's choice.


I did my best to channel Gwen Marston's triangles and multi-stripes, with minor success. I'll keep working on those techniques....

In the spirit of improvisation and knowing how some of my bee-mates are ruthless about using up their scraps, I sewed together all my left-over bits into a small bonus block for Leanne. Hopefully it can fit into some nook or cranny when she goes to make her quilt.

It's been a fun year with Bee Sewcial and I'm super pleased with the quilt I made from my month's blocks. I know a few changes are in store, but I'm definitely looking forward to the challenge of another round.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

The Minimum

A couple of months ago, I made a block for Hillary/entropyalwayswins in Bee Sewcial inspired by the notion of how modern quilters are steeped so deeply in tradition, and that led to a very sparse log cabin block. The fact is, I kept thinking about that little block, wanting to recreate it. So when I got a chance to play last weekend, I started in.

It felt good, so I kept going. I'm pretty sure my background fabric is an interweave chambray in pepper by Robert Kaufman. All the cabin logs are neutrals - a few cut from yardage, but most pulled from the scrap basket. The majority are solids, but some are favorite low-volume prints.

Truly, I made trimming and fabric decisions as I rounded each corner, which was so darn satisfying - pretty much my favorite method of sewing these days.

After 3 rounds, I had to let my piece set for a few days as I mulled over where to take it next. I sketched some layout possibilities and finally settled on a pretty basic plan, keeping what I'd already done as the focus. So it's not very big - about 36" square - and now I'm mulling over a pieced backing, hoping to make that process as fun as the front.

I'm curious . . . what % of the time do you know where you're going with a project versus the times you figure it out as you go? 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Tuesday at the Table

Reading isn't something I make much time for these days, so Ruth Reichl's latest book, My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life, sat on my nightstand for several weeks. In a nutshell, it's a memoir and a cookbook - documenting the year after Gourmet Magazine closed, and her role as editor abruptly ended. And really, my reading style fit this book perfectly, as the format consists of alternating story and recipes, so I could read one or several sets at a time, and easily pick it up again at a later date.

Considering I used to be as addicted to cooking as I currently am to sewing, I remember what it feels like to let one's emotions find sanctuary in the kitchen. Though my tastes were never quite as exotic as Ms. Reichl's, I still enjoyed reading about them, though many of the recipes are perfect for day to day. The way she shares recipes in My Kitchen Year is almost conversational, which I found enjoyable, and there are several I'd like to try. It seemed only right that I make at least 1 before I wrote about the book here, and I chose 1 that was simple but oh so tasty - A Custard in a Crust.

Now I have a favorite quiche recipe - one of those dishes that I don't make often, but when I do, I make it rich and satisfying. The one in Ruth's book is of the simplest sort - a purchased pie-crust, cheese, and custard. Sprinkled with nutmeg, it wasn't fancy to look at, but it sure tasted like it was.

There were a couple of interesting features of the book. One was that Ruth shared Twitter tweets throughout the book. It took me a while to realize that's what they were - I thought they were bits of poetry. And many pretty much were, while being peeks into her world at the time. Also, a single gifted photographer, Mikkel Vang, photographed alongside Ruth as she cooked for the book, and the results are stunning. Being a big fan of Ruth's other books (my favorite being Tender at the Bone: Growing Up at the Table), I enjoyed reading about this more recent chapter of her life. If you enjoy food-talk at all, beautiful food photography, or recipes that have gotten someone through, I think you'd enjoy it too.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Hello Sophia

When I was looking to make a pouch to coordinate with my mom's new bag, I hopped right on over to s.o.t.a.k handmade to see what Svetlana had that I hadn't tried yet. There I happened upon the sophia pouch, and I can now say it's a new favorite.

For 5"x8", this pouch has plenty of extras - a roomy exterior pocket with velco closure, an interior pocket, plus a 1" gusset that allows for extra space. And the pouch has what I consider Svetlana's signature zipper technique, which personally I like alot, and which you'll also find on her lola pouch. Though the pattern calls for piping, I went without this time, but it's definitely another nice design element.

Fabric-wise, I believe the 'main' fabric I used was a chambray, though I'm not 100% sure. It gave just the look I was after though. All other fabrics were Cotton + Steel - the dark blue/black on the exterior pocket and zipper binding is from the Honeymoon collection by Sarah Watts (same as mom's bag); the interior pocket and lining fabrics are both from Zephyr by Rashina Coleman-Hale. Mom chose them all from my stack of C+S, and I think they go really nicely together.

Making a new pattern like this, I go super slowly, reading and rereading each step. But that aside, it was easy to follow, and the pouch was very enjoyable to make. I'd definitely make it again....

Linking up with Finish It Up Friday.