Archive for August, 2010

2010270801 037, originally uploaded by Make it Modern.

I’m in love with my new pouch and broach set!

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The set is the “wrapping” for my sister in law’s Christmas present. She is a big Vera Bradley fan and while I found those bags too expensive for my Christmas budget I thought these twp prints by Timeless Treasures and Alexander Henry were very evocative of the Yellow Bird print from Vera. I considered using fleece interfacing to add some puff and quilting but I didn’t want to make it a Vera Bradley copycat. I wanted to make something useful that I know she would love and using her favorite purse as inspiration seemed like a smart move.

After making the pouch I thought it needed some adornment, the broach serves this purpose beautifully and was a breeze to make. And she can take it off and put pin it on a sweater or jacket.

My goal is to turn this into a free tutorial but it needs a little tweaking first to perfect it.

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When I first got into quilting I spent hours cruising the internet looking for free quilt patterns. I figured I would give quilting a try as cheaply as possible to see how much I would enjoy it and if I would stick to it. After spending hundreds of dollars on yarn and scrapbooking supplies only to give away those supplies a year later I’ve learned the hard way to be more cautious about my own interests.

This quilt was one of the first to catch my eye and while I loved it I knew that my non existent skills could not do the pattern justice- all those angles and triangles!

"birdcage on a chain" quilt

So I downloaded the pdf from Anna Maria Horner’s blog and filed it away. I thought after two years of quilting that I was finally up to the task and rather unfortunately I was wrong…. Although the pattern is by no means perfect the real problem for me is that this is not a beginner pattern and I’m still a beginner.

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There is only one actual error in the instructions for this quilt. You are directed to cut 16 “G” shapes but you really need to cut 8 “G”‘s with the right side of the pattern piece and 8 “G”‘s with the wrong side of the pattern piece. It’s a curious error since you use the right and wrong side of pattern pieces in a couple of instances and the directions are correct for the others.


As I said this is not a beginner pattern. There are not a lot of instructions and no tips or tricks for piecing. Anna gives some instructions for the border, backing and binding but even those are not very comprehensive. Now one could argue that these are free instructions and you get what you pay for but this is a professional fabric and pattern designer and I expect more from her because of that.

The pattern was made fabric from Anna’s Drawing Room collection and you are supposed to use the picture as a guide for cutting and placing your fabric. That’s fine if you are using the exact same fabrics but if you aren’t (and I wasn’t) it’s hard to keep straight what needs to be cut from what fabric and where said pieces are supposed to go. This is further complicated by the fact that the same pattern piece is used with multiple fabrics. I ended up writing my own fabric key and then labeling where each fabric went on her diagram for piecing. If I was really organized I would have created my own key and diagram of the quilt labeling each piece.

Where I really ran into trouble was sewing the row of angles and triangles to the row of rectangles. I was over an inch off! I stretched and pinned the heck out of it but it’s not pretty. I have bubbles and some puckering that the quilting can’t hide. I’m not sure what I did wrong because I had no problems attaching the rows of angles and triangles to another row of angles and triangles. I think my cutting and piecing was consistent enough to match those twos rows up but not precise enough to match those rows with the rows of rectangles… Oh well.

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Changes I made:

The only change I made was to omit the sashing and I used my own binding instructions. After being so excited about this pattern I was really disappointed how it all came together. I was ready to give up multiple times. So by the time I came to the sashing I really didn’t want to put any more effort or fabric into this quilt. This is the same reason I used fleece instead of batting and a fabric batting.

What I Loved:

My personal troubles with this pattern aside I still really love the idea of this quilt. It’s the perfect pattern to showcase larger prints like Laura Gunn (who I used) or Heather Bailey to name two. In a world of quilt patterns that seem to focus on smaller prints this is a welcomed change. I also loved quilting this, the pattern allows so much for creativity in creating a quilting design. You could stipple it, you could follow the lines, you could create “cages” like I did, and on and on.

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The process of this quilt was personally frustrating to me but the quilting process, deciding what to do, and seeing it come together- that I loved!

Would I do it again?

No, I’m sure a more experienced quilter could pull this off but even in a couple years I wouldn’t try this again. When it was all said and done I liked the quilt but I didn’t love it and there are far to many quilt patterns to try in the world to repeat one that I’m not absolutely in love with.

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I do most of my fabric shopping online for a couple of reasons. There aren’t any fabric shops that I like within 30 minutes of me and brick and mortar shops often charge $10 a yard for the same fabric I could buy at $8 a yard online. And yes I understand and respect the reasons brick and mortar shops charge those prices but it doesn’t mean I can afford them. One of the exceptions to my online shopping is Quilting Adventures in Richmond, Virginia. They are somewhat on the way to my Dad’s and right next to a resteraunt I love so every third or so trip down to Virginia I’ll make a point to stop by.


The plethora of modern designers and various types of fabric is what first attracted me to Quilting Adventures. My first time in there I spent well over $100 mostly on Japanese prints and heavier home dec fabric that I can rarely find online or elsewhere. I also like the fact that brick and mortar shops will have fabric that you can’t find online anymore, it’s like going on a treasure hunt!

Price by the Yard:

This varies depending on the type of fabric but it’s about $10 to $15. Steep compared to online prices but on par with most brick and mortar shops. But for Japanese prints it’s a deal because you don’t have to pay shipping and their selection is as good as some online shops.

They do have a customer reward program. I can’t remember how much you have to spend but I do know it’s a couple hundred dollars to get a “free yard.” The certificate is worth $11 so it won’t cover the cost of a yard of home dec fabric or the japanese prints but it comes close.

Fat Quarters/ Quarter Yards:

They have a HUGE selection of fat quarters. I don’t think they have fat quarters of every single fabric they carry but they come pretty close. My last trip I spent $50 on fat quarters alone.

Customer Service:

Every time I’ve been in the shop the ladies have been super welcoming and helpful. You can tell they enjoy their jobs and they enjoy working with fabric. They also offer a wide variety of classes that I wish I could take advantage of for beginners up to more advanced sewists.

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I worked so hard yesterday to get all the quilting done on my birdcage quilt that I think I strained a leg muscle! But I managed to get it all done and while most of this quilt has been frustrating I really enjoyed designing the quilting for it. My plan is to bind it and bury all the threads today so I can check this off my Christmas crafting list before I start anything else.

In anticipation of the finish I pulled a stack of fabric for my next quilt. When I was growing up my mom always stressed the importance of giving back and being thankful for all the gifts and priveleges I’ve been given. Every year we gave presents to local charities and its something I’ve carried into my adult life. But for the past couple of years I’ve regretted that I didn’t have the time to donate handmade gifts. It’s in fact part of the reason I decided to start my Christmas crafting in July. Not only does starting early allow me time to give all of my love ones a handmade gift, it also allows me to time to make gifts to donate. I’m not sure how many items or what kind I will end up making but I figure a quilt is a good start. It’s also a good way to use up fabric from my stash for a good cause. I don’t have as impressive a stash as some but I’ve been feeling like it’s getting out of hand. Since the fabrics aren’t hard to find I can’t swap them and I don’t do enough crafting to use them up for myself or friends and family so this feels like the perfect solution.

Do you ever do any crafting for charity? Do you plan on donating any items this holiday season?

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Want a chance to win some Flea Market Fancy, Lush, Heather Ross, Uptown, and Katie Jump Rope?

Silly question right? Head on over to Lucy and Norman and check out her fabulous giveaway 🙂

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I spent a couple hours this week perusing Spoonflower and I fell in love more than once! Just out these beauties.

From Jumping_Monkeys

From troismiettes

From dorokitty

From laurie wisbrun

From maile

From milktooth

From natalie

From avelis

Do you have any Spoonflower favorites?

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Cruising on the high of finishing my miniquilt in a day I decided to go back to this quilt and try to knock it out.

The top is completely pieced.

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But now I need to hand applique the fussy cut birds. There are twelve of them and since I plan on raw edge appliquing them it won’t take me too long but I’m still not looking forward to it!

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I know it isn’t Monday but this is my first work day of the week so does that count? I’m sure you will forgive me for getting distracted by these two.

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I spent the weekend visiting my two nephews (only three weeks apart!) and visiting one of my favorite quilt shops. I started to feel guilty when I got home about the amount of money I spent ($50 on fabric for a tree skirt to start) and about being behind on my Christmas presents. I wanted to do something with my new fabric and check another present off the list but I wasn’t motivated to start another major project since I’m actively working on three large quilts already. I had planned on making a mini quilt or pillow case cover for my in laws and since they live in the Pacific Northwest this fabric seemed perfect :).

The quilt is the size of a fat quarter (the lazy way to decide on the size) and I used three fat quarters of the Melimba & Beccabury Rainy Days and Mondays in White along with Kona Cotton Basil to make it. At least the Kona cotton was from my stash…

I taped a couple of pieces of regular paper together and freehanded the templates.
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I’ve been wanting to make an umbrella quilt for awhile and originally had intended to piece it but today applique seemed a better choice.

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Since it’s a miniquilt the back will rarely be seem so I kept it simple.

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When I asked my husband what I thought his mother would like he didn’t really know. He did remember that she really liked the quilting work that we saw when visiting Lancaster County, PA a couple years ago. So I tried to make the quilting lines a bit more interesting. I used two different colors and three different designs. The umbrella has quilted lines to mimic the look of an actual umbrella. Above the umbrella are diagonal lines in light gray to mimic rain and below the umbrella the lines go straight up and down and are done in a dark green thread.

Overall I really like it and it only took about three hours including hand sewing the binding.

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Do you think I could get away with giving everyone aprons for Christmas? I didn’t understand until I made a couple why there were whole books devoted to apron patterns. Now I know, they are addictive! They are relatively simple, don’t take a lot of time, materials or skill.

I checked “A is for Apron” by Nathalie Mornu out from my local library because it was one of the few “modern” craft/sewing books they had and when I flipped through it I fell in love with the Twirl, Girl. All of the pattern pieces are printed on the regular pages of the book so you have to take them to copy center to have them blown up 400%. If I bought the book I would probably prefer to have pattern pieces included but as a library book it’s great because the pattern pieces can’t be lost.

This pattern only had two pieces that look deceptively small even when blown up 400% but fear not it does make a regular sized apron!

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I used Alexander Henry snacks fabric and Kona Cotton Kiwi that I had in my stash. Both are unusual choices but perfect for my sister. I bought the snack fabric a year and a half ago and knew eventually it would become a present for her but I wasn’t sure how.

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I used the green because I’m still trying to use up the random solids in my stash and because she has a dress almost that exact color, so I know she likes it. I figured I could have used black which would have been a bit blah or pink or aqua but I didn’t think my sister would like those colors. So green it is and while I doubted it at first I really like how the combination turned out.

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I used Sulky thread in Avocado for the topstitching because it was the closest match, it’s just a bit darker.

If you read my review of the Kitschy Kitchen Apron from One Yard Wonders you’ll know I had problems understanding the directions for the waistband. And I had problems with this one as well… Ironically the directions are basically same and enabled me to grasp the directions for the Kitschy Apron but the Twirl, Girl has the apron ties sewn into the band in a way that didn’t work when I sewed it together as the directions stated…. Apparently I’m just bad at attaching apron waistbands….When I sewed it together as instructed my ties ended up inside the waistband because they had me line up the raw edges of the waistband (folded over right sides together) with the raw edges of the ties and stitching along that edge.

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So when you turn the waistband inside out the ties go from outside in… I undid all of that folded the raw edges of the waistband and pressed a 1/2 inch seam. Then I folded the waistband wrong sides together encasing about an inch of each tie and sewed a 1/4 inch along all four sides. It works just fine. And is the same thing I did on the other apron.

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It took me a couple of days working in 15 minute increments to get it done. But done in a single sitting it could be finished in an hour or so.

I plan on making one more apron (I making one for my sister, my sister in law and one of my best friends) in case you are curious. This one will be using a free tutorial I found online. I also have plans to make my own pattern but I make no promises about when that will get done 😉

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My ironing board cover was so old that I might as well have been ironing on the bare metal. Needless to say a new cover was long overdue. Originally I thought I wanted to do this

The Perfect Sewing Room Ironing Board Cover
Photo credit

and I even bought that Alexander Henry fabric to do so but I never seemed to get around to it. So when I finally got around to it this week I decided a print fabric would be too busy. I take a lot of in progress pictures on my ironing board and I didn’t want to detract attention from the object I was photographing. The ironing board also lives in our living room/sewing room and it needs to be understated so it blends- gray was perfect that. I used a Kona Cotton chosen from my stash because I had enough of it.

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I loosely followed this tutorial from Make Something.

She doesn’t mention adding batting but I cut two layers of an organic cotton batting I had on hand.

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And because I’m a “genius” and took my old ironing board cover off when I started to make the new one I had to leave the pins in while I sewed the casing for the twine.

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I also sewed the twine in place so that I wouldn’t have to thread it through and I skipped the button hole. It’s a great feature but I wasn’t in the mood to tackle the buttonhole attachment on my sewing machine so I simply left about a one inch gap in the casing for the strings to come out.

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And it’s done 🙂 The whole thing only took an hour or so.


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