Archive for the ‘pattern review’ Category

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The more projects I complete from “One Yard Wonders” the more I love it. I fall in love with so many fabrics and then they end up lanquishing on a shelf. Some prints are simply to busy or to unlike anything else in my stash to be used in a quilt. And even those that can be used in a quilt may not make it into one for years because it takes so long to make quilts and my inspiration for quilts varies so frequently. I may buy a floral fabric because “I have to have it” but be really inspired by simple and graphic prints and make a quilt out of those. I buy fabric because I love it and want to be surrounded by it, not have it sitting on a shelf waiting for months or years to be used. This book is filled with everyday items that you can make out of fabric so you can finally take those well loved prints off the shelf, put them to use, and be surrounded by them all the time!

This isn’t my favorite project from this book but it comes pretty close. The book calls this a “collapsible shopping tote” but I call it the ninja tote.

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Look how small it gets!

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This one is for my mother in laws birthday. Originally it and the umbrella mini quilt were going to be Christmas gifts but TH wants to make her a cutting board for Christmas so we’ll give her these in a couple weeks for her birthday. The quilt will be “wrapped” in the bag. Now that she and her husband are retired they spend a lot of time traveling in their fifth wheel so I’m hoping that both the quilt and ninja bag will fit well into their downsized, on-the-go lifestyle.

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This one is for me! I fell in love with this print by Paintbrush Studio and bought it knowing I could never use it in a quilt but “needing” it nonetheless. Now I can easily carry this in my purse for trips to the fabric store, drugstore, etc.

Since they are made with quilting weight cotton I wouldn’t load this bag up with a bunch of groceries, or at least not a gallon of milk, but it’s handy for just about any other shopping needs. And it’s small size and portability mean I won’t find myself in a store accepting a plastic shopping bag as I kick myself for forgetting one of my reusable bags.

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I had to pack up my Single Girl Quilt for now, it just wasn’t coming together the way it should and I really need to pull out the seam ripper. I’m not feeling up to it so I packed it back up and decided to switch gears.

I already made my sister an apron for Christmas but a single apron, no matter how cool, is not enough of a gift in my mind. Since she’s trying to eat healthy and brings her lunch to work I thought a lunch bag was in order. The pattern is called the Simple Bag and it is from “Last-Minute Patchwork + Quilted Gifts.” It was designed to show off large scale modern prints and I have to say it does so beautifully. My sister loves large black and white graphic prints and I love how these two go together.

It’s a little larger than your average lunch bag but it is tall enough to hold a reusable water bottle and a book or a magazine to peruse when she has a break at work. Although not nearly as robust or large as Amy Butler’s Everyday Shopper between the home decorator weight inner and outer fabric this bag can handle lunch, a trip to the library or a small trip to the store with no trouble.

The whole project took less than an hour to complete and I really love the look of it. The example in the book uses contrasting upper and lower fabrics and I actually think the contrast would be more appealing then the single color scheme I chose. But I made this for my sister so I chose the fabric and design I know she will love best. This bag will also serve as the “wrapping” for her apron so I can put it under the Christmas tree without giving away the suprise inside :).

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As part of my handmade Christmas gift giving I decided to make a “gift bag” for each recipient. I could easily make simple fabric bags for everyone’s gifts but they would probably end up in the back of a drawer or stored away somewhere. Since my intention is for everything I make and give to be something the recipients will use on a regular basis, I thought of making resuable grocery bags/market totes for each person using different patterns found in books and online.

Named the the “Everyday Shopper” (from Amy Butler’s new book “Style Stitches”) this bag seemed the perfect choice to serve as a reusable grocery bag and I suppose it can serve in this function. Since it is HUGE it will fit a lot of groceries, it just may be to heavy to carry very far!

The pattern calls for 3/4 yards of one fabric and 1 5/8 yards of another but I wanted to use the 1/2 yards of a couple Heather Ross Far Far Away 2 prints that I already had on hand. In order to make it work I used four different fabrics- 3 prints from FFA 2 and a yard and a half of a deep purple micro cord that I purchased at JoAnn Fabrics.

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Each pattern in Style Stitches is rated by level of difficulty, the shopper is rated easy and I would definitely agree. The bulk of the time required for the project is in the cutting and fusing of the interfacing. Once you get to the actual sewing it is a breeze, the project is after all just a bunch of rectangles sewn together!

The Everyday Shopper is well designed and constructed to handle the weight of a regular grocery trip but I personally feel it is just too big for a trip to the farmer’s market. I “test drove” this bag at a local craft fair, after carrying it for three hours filled with two sweatshirts, two wallets, two water bottes, a container of lotion, and a bag of cinnamon roasted almonds (yum!) my arm started to go a little numb. After an hour I was ready to leave it behind. The temptation, because of it’s size, is to fill it with stuff but if you do that your shoulder will start to hurt from the weight. On the other hand, if you use it for a trip to the grocery store you only have to carry it from the store to your car, and your car to your house. In that case the bag can hold (without strain) a ton of stuff and you only have to carry that weight for a short period of time. That isn’t a particular flaw with this design since any large shoulder bag would cause the same problem.

There are countless patterns for similiar bags where the Everyday Shopper stands out is it’s reversible design, sturdiness and shear size. Personally I would prefer it to be smaller but I cannot complain about its construction and I do really appreciate the reversible feature. I made this bag for a friend who has a ton of clothes and bags, she is always telling me she “needs” options. Since I used the same main fabric on both sides the overall look isn’t that different but she loves purple so that was a no brainer. She also loves Sleeping Beauty but may not always want to advertise that fact so the flowers are a nice alternative. While I think she will love this bag I doubt I will make it again because of it’s size.

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You can find this project for free here on The Mother Huddle.

After making two other aprons as Christmas gifts I had to take an apron making break! I have a bit of sewing ADD and I can’t do too much of one thing without getting bored. Since I try very hard not to have a large stack of works in progress I don’t start things if I don’t think I will see them through immediately. It also worked out that in the interim I had purchased the red and white polka dot fabric for another project thats adds a much needed punch of color to this apron.

Stylistically it isn’t much different from the other two aprons I’ve made recently but the overall look is very different as is it’s functionality. I purchased the bike fabric a year or so ago in an attempt to add more boy friendly prints to my stash but I’ve never really loved it and it has languished in the fabric closet since then. I am attempting to use fabric from my stash for all my gifts this year and I decided to focus on the random fabrics that I have purchased that don’t coordinate with anything else. Since most of my Christmas projects will be small it is actually a perfect use for these 1/2 yard and 1 yard pieces. Now before you accuse me of foisting off substandard prints on my sister-in-law I should tell you that it is her style. It is also the most functional apron I’ve made. The dark blue fabric is perfect to hide stains and the built in hot pads mean she doesn’t have to hunt around for a hot pad or oven mit when she is cooking. The red, white and blue color scheme is also reminiscent of her 4th of July wedding to her husband years ago. So while it isn’t my favorite apron I know it will be well loved and well used by her. After all crafting presents isn’t about making things that I love but things that the recipients will love.

I didn’t have any real trouble figuring out the instructions or making this apron but the pleats were a bit tricky at first. The pictures in the tutorial are very close up but some wider shots would help make it easier to understand and then execute. I would also suggest making this apron in one sitting. I created the pleats, ironed and pinned them but then didn’t work on the project for a couple days. In the interim my cats had removed some of the pins and it took a bit of finagling to get the fabric back into the pleats and folds so that I could sew it all in place. All together it only took me about two hours to make this apron so it’s an easy project to complete in an afternoon.

I only made one alteration to the pattern. I sewed the hot pads to the apron on three sides instead of sewing it together on two and then tacking it in one spot on the third. This made it easier to use the hot pad as a mitt and with my dark fabric and all over print you don’t really notice it.

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You can also check out my version of the Twirl, Girl from “A is for Apron” here and my version of the Kitschy Kitchen Apron from “One Yard Wonders” here.

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I don’t know about you but sometimes I need a fast and easy project to give me a sense of accomplishment and skill. This pet bed from “One Yard Wonders” is the perfect project for it. I mean how hard can any project be that involves six rectangles and some piping?

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I used “Leo” by Alexander Henry.

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I picked this fabric up a couple years ago in a quilt shop not knowing what I would use it for but also knowing I couldn’t leave it behind! I decided to use it for this project to add a little color and whimsy to our living room and because it coordinates with my favorite piece of art that we own.

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It took me about 30-45 minutes to put the whole thing together. I stuffed it with two bags of organic bamboo fiberfill and the stuffing from an old pillow (we are all about reusing things around here) and I think our puppy, Pearl, approves.

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Pearl is about fifteen pounds now and won’t get much bigger, she’s a silver beagle, so this bed will be used for a very long time. If you’ve got a small dog the bed is the canine equivalent of a king sized bed but if you’ve got a medium sized dog it’s more of a canine twin sized bed (it works but there isn’t a lot of room to stretch out). If you’ve got a medium to large breed dog this would work when they are little but you’d have to increase the size if they are going to use it when they grow up.

So far our cats haven’t tried the bed out but they could both comfortably fit on it if the dog would ever move 🙂

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whether I want to or not…

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I’m not a big fan of moving between various projects,at most I’ll be working on three things at the same time. Usually I’m only working on one and make myself finish it before I start anything else. But occassonally I will get stuck on a project and just won’t want to finish it. While this tree skirt may look sweet and innocent

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I assure you it’s evil! I first saw this when mamacjt posted it on flickr

Tree Skirt

Carol created the tree skirt and after so many people expressed interest in it she also created a pattern which can be purchased directly from her. Simply contact her through flickr at the link to her above.

I was really excited to make this tree skirt and readily shelled out almost $50 for 12 different fat quaters in shades of reds or greens. The pattern only calls for 1/8 yards but I don’t have a quilt shop that sells cuts that small. You could also use scraps to make a more interesting tree skirt but I didn’t have anything in my stash that would work.

Where the love affair ended was all the tiny strips. The pattern calls for strips 1 1/4 in or 1 1/2 in wide but piecing those thin strips to make a 7 inch thick rectangle is tedious. Eventually I just cut mine wider 1 1/2 in – 2 in wide. By the time I had pieced my red rectangles and my trees I was done! The skirt got set aside for a week or so before I gathered up the energy to start working on it again. After the pieced portions are done the top actually goes together pretty quickly. You sew white strips on the sides of the trees and then sew the tree to the red rectangle. There are only two pattern pieces- one is the tree and the second is the section. You lay the pattern piece for the section over your work and trim off the excess. Then you sew the trimmed sections together. Until this point the directions were concise but detailed and my only frustration was personal (I don’t like sewing thin strips together over and over and over again). But at this point I have a real problem with the pattern. Perhaps you will understand when I quote step 11 for you “Layer and quilt as desired.” If this was a square or a rectangle I wouldn’t be complaining but it’s not. And even patterns that use squares or rectangles will tell you how much fabric and what dimensions the backing should be. But this is worse because it’s a hexagaon with curved ends. What size backing should I use? What size batting? Should I cut it in a circle, if so how large? Should I cut it in a square, if so what size? I used a square for the record and it wasn’t brain surgery but this is a pattern and I personally believe a pattern should walk you through all the steps. I also have a problem with step 12 which tells you how much “BIAS” binding you need but not how to attach it. Again this isn’t a square or a rectangle, you have to bind curves with points, I’ve never done that before. Feeling really frustrated at this point I contacted Carol and asked for assistance. I didn’t specifically ask how to get the binding around the points where the curves meet, I figured when i asked how to bind it that she would understand what I needed. Her response was a reminder that I needed to use “BIAS” binding, to ease it around and go to a local shop if I needed more assistance. I was tired and frustrated at this point, really frustrated and I put this project on a high shelf out of sight for a day. Because honestly if I didn’t I think I would have thrown it away. I was that frustrated and really the only thing that stopped me wasn’t the time I had put in but the cost of the fabric itself. I’m not throwing out $50 plus dollars of fabric over a temper tantrum. But again I believe a pattern should equip me with the knowledge I need to complete a project from start to finish.

The next day I turned to my old standby- google. And for one of the very few times ever it failed me! The sum total of advice I could find on the various blogs and websites was “ease it around.” In desperation I bought (sight unseen) a book referenced in a blog post about binding curved edges. The tree skirt went back into the closet for three weeks until the book arrived and it too was pretty useless. The book was supposed to be about binding and borders but it was more of visual option book versus a practical how-to. At this point I just needed this tree skirt done and out of the way so I sat down to channel my inner Tim Gunn and “make it work.” The binding is not pretty but it is done so at least I can check it off the list.

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When I started this project I was going to keep the tree skirt but about half way through I decided it would be a gift for someone else. Now that I’m done I’ve decided to give it to a good friend who’s taste is a bit more traditional than mine. Because time and frustrations aside after making this I realized it’s just not me but hey it sure looks cool. And she loves me enough not to look to closely 🙂

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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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