January Creative Projects

I’m holding myself to my goal of making what I want, when I want. For January, that meant not a lot, as I adjusted to a new school semester. But I did do a few things.

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I saw a video on facebook that demonstrated how to make paper stars or snowflakes using paper lunch bags. I have a ton of lunch bags and thought I’d make one myself. It’s hanging in my kitchen window and I really like it there. It’s also a really easy project, so I prepped some kits to mail to my nieces and nephews.

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I really love paper snowflakes and find cutting them to be relaxing once I remember how to fold the paper correctly (there is always one where my folds and my cuts result in confetti instead of a snowflake). I’d been really intrigued by the more intricate snowflakes I’ve seen on pinterest, so freehanded the templates on scrap paper and held my breath. I’m really pleased with how they came out, though!

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Finally, I’ve always considered myself politically active and engaged, however this past fall and now the first 15 days of the new administration have made it clear to me that I need to really step up my game in this regard. I made this sign (front and back) to carry at the Women’s March in Washington. In some ways, creating is how I best express myself, so I suspect that more politically motivated making will be made in the coming months.

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Le Sigh…

I did NOT manage to complete my One Monthly Goal for December. I was doing well, but realized that there was no way I would finish it before I left for my trip home on December 7th. And that was the end of my sewing mojo! In fairness, I was out of town for quite a while. I did put together a wonky little mug rug and my husband helped me assemble the work bench that has become a cutting table for me (and was my Christmas gift).

In thinking about sewing and quilting and creating and what I’d like to accomplish this year — really, I just want to make stuff and ENJOY what I’m making. I think that setting specific project goals has been counter productive for me because those goals aren’t necessarily projects that spark my creativity OR they are something that I feel I HAVE to make (even though, I often don’t….it’s a weird kind of mental reasoning). Thinking about that aspect specifically, I’ve realized two things:

  • I like the idea and the act of making and giving things to other people.
  • Projects made specifically with other people in mind make me feel stifled and under pressure and just not creative.

So. The mug rug was a messy little beast and it’s not perfect, but I tried making half rectangles for the first time and was super proud of myself! And when I finished, I thought…oh, so and so might like this. I didn’t actually give it away because it still needs to be bound, but my take away is this:

  • I need to make for the sake of making first and foremost. And then if the finished projects strike me as something that is a good fit for a family member or friend, well, it can go live with them (assuming they want it!).

Which means that my resolution for this month and this year is simply to make. To give myself time each week to dabble in whatever it is I want to do with the supplies I already have on hand. I’m not even going to set a time goal as I think I’ll focus more on that than on the process, and the process is what I crave. So here’s to 2017, the year of making.

More Projects (Or, I’ve Been Cleaning)

I decided to do a little furniture rearranging that I’ve been putting off. It involved clearing out an old microwave cabinet that I’ve been using to hold my sewing machine and other sewing items. Once cleared out, I’m moving that cabinet to the kitchen and plan to move the sewing machine table that I recently finished in it’s place. Of course, in the process of cleaning out the cabinet, I found about 15 more projects that are in various stages of completion. Not to mention more fabric. One good thing about having missed the actual link-up deadline for the FAL is that I can go ahead and add these to my goal list and since I’m really only accountable to myself…win/win. Or lose/lose, since I’m the person who can’t seem to finish this stuff off. Many of these projects require very little additional work to complete; I’m hoping to spend some time on the smallest projects this week and have a few actual finishes!!

These are not the most fantastic of photos as I really just wanted to document what was in the cabinet and move forward. As I finish them, I hope to take better pictures. Also, it’s very possible that not all the things can be saved.

Card Holder: This case was intended to hold note cards and I’m pretty sure the project was doomed from the start. I don’t remember if I cut the wrong size or if the case itself was just a lot smaller than I realized, but…no normal sized note card set will fit in this case. That’s ok, there are other problems before we get to actually USING the case: the ribbon is sewn in backwards and the case just seems very plain. I have some ideas for how to save it and even how it can be used. I hope I can pull it off!

burb cloth

Burp Cloth: One side is cut out, the solid still needs to be traced and cut. In addition to this cloth, I have one completely finished. Why did I stop? Possibly because the solid piece won’t quite fit the pattern? Not sure–I am casting back in memory, here. A cousin is having a baby over the summer, so I’d like to finish these up in time for the shower next month.

advent calendar

Advent Calendar: Hard to tell from this photo, but this is a long, skinny Advent calendar. It’s intended to hold wrapped candies in the ribbons and as each day passes, the candy is untied and consumed, marking the wait for Christmas. I think I just need to finish gluing on the ribbons and maybe add a little embellishment. I’ve had this project for over ten years. It doesn’t enthrall me the way it once did, but I would use it if I finished it.

apron

Apron: The pieces are cut out and ready to be sewn together. I don’t know why I stalled, except I think the color started to bore me. This is another project that I’ve been hauling around for over ten years.

Market Totes: These are two total SNAFUs. They’re made using the Jane Market Tote pattern by Alicia Paulsen but I completely messed them up. I really don’t know how it happened; I was having a bad brain day I think. I’ve made the pattern since then and not had any issues. But these were a doozy. You can see that the one on the left is not even remotely put together correctly. Actually I think I started by cutting everything wrong. The one of the right just looks sad. I think I can save them enough to get salvageable tote bags out of them; not beautiful, but fine for groceries.

flannel baby quilt

Flannel Baby Quilt: Another project that’s been hanging about for eons. Probably eight years. I started it for a woman who was looking forward to her first grandchild. I ran out of steam at some point and then, just as I was thinking I could get it together, the relationship went sour and that friend doesn’t see her grandchildren anymore. So right back on the shelf it went. I think the rows are complete, so it’s just a matter of sewing them together and then finishing the quilt. It’s soft and bright and will make a nice donation quilt.

freshcut charms

Heather Bailey Charms: When my sister was just starting to get into sewing, I cut a number of my collection of Heather Bailey prints into fat quarters and gave them to her. I don’t remember cutting these charm squares, but am pretty sure that must have happened at about the same time. The stack is about equivalent to two charm packs and will make a nice sized baby quilt. I still have most of those prints in a fat quarter or larger size in my stash, as well!

half aprons

Half Aprons: These were intended for my nieces. Why did I stall? Probably something in the instructions made me nervous. They are mostly cut out and I just need to actually sew them up! The fabric is from Amy Butler’s LOVE line, I believe.

neptune blocks

Neptune Blocks: I shared the Honeybun of Neptune in yesterday’s post; these are the blocks that are leftover from using the first honeybun to make throw pillows for my parents.

punctuation charm packs

Punctuation Charm Packs: These two charm packs I picked up just because I thought the print was cute. I don’t know that I ever had a plan for them, but I do now. My sister’s good friend just gave birth to twin girls. I want to use two different patterns to make them each a quilt using one charm pack. Enough to be similar, but not exactly the same.

skirt

Barcelona Skirt: Honestly, this is not super high on my priority list, but I do want to make it before the summer is over. This pattern and the fabric were a gift many years ago. I’ve just not taken the time (or have been happy with my body–dumb reason, I know) to make it up.

tea toweling

Toweling: All that needs to be done with the toweling is to cut the length I have in two and then hem!!!! I do want to add a little strawberry applique to each towel, but still. This has been sitting around for a couple of years and WHY?!

wee kitten and bear

Wee Kitten and Bear: Patterns cut out and ready to sew, for the most part. Not pictured is the partly stuff carcass that had been hanging out in the basket as well. I think I marked it with ink or something made me unhappy with it. But I think I can make it usable so I want to try to get these done. I’d kind of like to have a stuffy made for each of my nieces and nephews when we vacation together in August.

Kind of insane, right? Worst part is that there are MORE projects hiding out in other places. This is just what I managed to un-earth from the microwave cabinet. From now on I am going to move forward with “Finished is Better than Perfect” as my motto!

Q2 FAL Goals (Or, Let’s Try This Again)

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As I mentioned in my previous post, I made absolutely NO progress on my FAL goals for the first quarter. ZIP, ZERO, ZILCH! I enumerated the reasons in that post and won’t really get into it today, but…I really want to do better this time around. So, I’m posting the original nine goals I listed for the first quarter and adding a few to the list. I didn’t have a ton of time to sew last quarter, but when I did, I didn’t necessarily want to work on the projects on my list. So I’m hoping that by being more encompassing I can actually cross some projects off the list.

ETA: Well, I’m bummed. I guess I missed the cut-off for linking up, although I am pretty sure the link up was supposed to last until 11PM EST? Granted, I am cutting it under the wire, but…I think I actually posted before then? Oh well, these goals are primarily to motivate myself, so it’s not such a big deal whether or not I am on the official “list”. 

bri's quilt 1

  • Bri’s Quilt: finish backing, baste, quilt, and bind. Bri’s birthday is in May and I’d really like to get this finished in time for her to have it then.

brooke's quilt

  • Brooke’s Quilt: select backing fabric, baste, quilt and bind. I’d like to have the quilt finished and in the mail before the little lady’s second birthday in July!

landon's quilt

  • Landon’s Quilt: add a border, select backing fabric, baste, quilt and bind. I don’t love this quilt — it’s fine, just not so much my style and I don’t love the idea of giving a quilt I don’t 100% love to someone special to me. Or, at least this quilt doesn’t seem to match up with this little guy. So I want to finish the quilt, but we will see if this actually goes to Landon!

chevron and on

  • Rainbow Chevron and On/Arrow Quilt: finish piecing blocks, piece top, back, baste, quilt and bind. I really love this quilt, and it’s the only project I actually managed to work on last quarter. I’m hoping to see it completed this quarter. Also, I’ve been calling this quilt Chevron and On because I saw it named such on another blog — but I’ve just realized that “Chevron and On” is a pattern published in Quilty and I don’t have that particular issue. It was pretty easy to see how the blocks were constructed and I’ve just been going about in my own way. The blocks look like arrows to me, so I’m renaming it The Arrow Quilt in my head, just to keep confusion to a minimum.

rainbow plus

  • Rainbow Plus Quilt: piece top, back, baste, quilt and bind. Pretty much I have everything to do to this quilt except cut the fabric. I’ve been playing about with layouts, too, but that doesn’t so much count, really.

kona solids

  • L’s Quilt: I’m planning to make up Ocean Waves using this stack of graduated blues. I want to create an ombre effect with the blocks and have spent a good deal of time puzzling that out in my mind, but beyond prepping the fabric, I have not done much on this quilt. I want to have this finished before we all spend a week together over the summer. It’s a little tricky because the colors will be changing within each block and I want to make sure I get that right!
  • N’s Quilt: L & N are twins and I wanted to reference that a BIT in their quilts, but not TOO much as I think they get kind of a lot of that. Each quilt will be made of solids and have an ombre effect, but will use different colors and different patterns. As I mentioned in my last post, it really took me a while to settle on a design for N’s quilt. I thought I’d figured it out in my first quarter post, but no. I just didn’t love the sketches I was making so this project really has been on a back burner. BUT. Recent the Missouri Star Quilt Company published a video for their Crosswalks quilt. I think this purple jelly roll will look fantastic made up into this pattern. One of the things that held me back with the previous pattern is that I would have to rely on the graduation of color to happen over the whole quilt top, without their being much movement within each block. I really prefer for more movement within these quilts, and I think I can make that happen with this pattern.
  • Zip Pouches: I’ve been meaning to make these for a few friends; I’ve included a couple of fabric pulls. I’m planning on using the pouch tutorial by Noodlehead.
  • Pot Holders: I’ve promised one set in a swap and have two friends planning to move into new homes this spring/summer. I’ll be sending along some embellished tea towels as well. I don’t really use a pattern when I make these, but I pulled fabric in the color families that my friends will like. These are unintentionally Christmasy!

garden party baby quilt

  • Garden Party Baby Quilt: This is a charm pack I’ve had forever and some border fabric. At one point I had the top laid out, although enough time has gone by that I’ll have to do that all over again! 

    granny square

  • Granny Square Quilt: I’ve got all the pieces cut out, although I think I want to re-cut the background fabric. I used muslin and not the best quality. The feature fabric is a MoMo line from years ago. I’d rather take the time to use a better quality solid in hopes that the quilt lasts a bit longer. When finished, this quilt will be for my sister and her family.

neptune honeybun

  • Neptune Pinwheels: Another quilt using fabric I’ve had forever. A long time ago I picked up two Honeybuns of Tula Pink’s Neptune line. I used part of one roll to make a pair of pillows for my parents; I’d like to use the remaining fabric to make a matching quilt. I also want to spruce up the pillow, but that’s another project entirely! I am tempted to keep this for myself because I really do love the fabric, but I feel like the quilt should go to my parents, since they have the pillows already.

cushion cover

  • Quilted Cushion: When I was pulling out some of these other projects to photograph, I found these two pieces, a cushion front and back, pieced and basted, ready to quilt. I don’t actually ever remember doing this, so who knows how long it’s been hanging around. But it shouldn’t take long to finish this one up!

****Um, I cleaned up my guest room rather too well when my parents visited and can’t find these items to photograph. I KNOW where they are, I just need to move stuff around to get to them. So…I’ve moved them to the bottom of the list as that just makes it so much less likely that I actually get to them at all!****

  • Charity Baby Quilt: This is a strip pieced quilt top that I’ve had pieced FOREVER but have been holding off on completing. I don’t love the color scheme, although I don’t think it’s horrible, either. Just not so much my style. I’ve also realized that overall, I don’t especially care for this type of pattern. Some folks really kill it and that’s awesome. I don’t and I’m not interested enough to try and figure out how to make them more exciting; I’d rather spend my time thinking about patterns that excite me! So I’ll be glad to have this done, although it’s probably the project I am least interested in actually working on. I do think it will be good practice for straight line quilting.
  • Michael’s T-Shirt Quilt: Again. I’m having a hard time conceptualizing how this quilt will actually be appealing (visually). I need to get over that and just finish it — the t-shirts were his mothers’ and I think it would be something we’ll both enjoy cuddling under.

That’s a total of 15 projects; hopefully they will keep me busy! I’m also giving myself permission to work on projects I WANT to work on, even if they aren’t on this list. That’s not part of the FAL, but I do think that I made so little progress at least partly because I wanted to work on some things but felt like I just couldn’t because they weren’t on the official list. Since this is really more about keeping track of my hobby and less about any other kind of productivity goal, I think I can relax a little and let myself just have a little fun.

Apologies for the less than stellar photos — I am mostly grabbing pictures using my phone and inside after dark, so they lack…pretty much everything.

April Sewing Plans and 1 Quarter Reflections

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Well, let me just sum up my first quarter reflections:

I got practically nothing done and met none of my goals.

I’ve been feeling kind of bad about that, BUT. I knew that I was probably not going to complete all six projects listed in my Q1FAL blog post; I posted those as a kind of middle ground between attainable and completely unrealistic. The other thing that happened is, well, life. I decided somewhat unexpectedly to apply to grad school and that took up quite a bit of my energy and motivation. My parents came to visit for a couple of weeks. And I took on a second job! So. What did I accomplish? Three things:

  1. I sewed some additional blocks for the Chevron and On quilt.
  2. I made two nice-sized design walls/boards.
  3. I finished the top to an antique sewing table and moved it into my sewing space.

Not a lot of actual stitching, but I am happy that those things at least were accomplished. And I spent a lot of time going back and forth regarding the quilt design for one of the twin’s quilt. I’d been settled on Ocean Waves for L, but the design I’d selected for N just didn’t seem quite right. Not too long ago I watched the Crosswalk Quilt video from Missouri Star Quilt Company and realized that it is perfect for what I want to do. Both quilts will play with value and I’m striving for an ombre effect of sorts. Not to mention the Crosswalk pattern works much better with the jelly roll I have than the other pattern I’d been considering. I am really happy to have settled on a design that feels right! I think part of my hesitation in starting their quilts was my subconscious lack of commitment to the first design.

April Goals

  • Finish Bri’s quilt
  • Get the fabric cut for the twins’ quilts.
  • Make some pot holders for a friend.
  • Make a zip pouch and mug rug for a friend.

I’ll create a post for second quarter goals a little later this week. There’s no reason to not keep trying to meet these goals just because NOTHING happened the first quarter!

 

Q1 Finish-A-Long Goals

2016 FAL

 

I’m hoping that accountability will be the key to success this year and so I’m linking up with the Finish-A-Long, a quarterly link-up to help motivate bloggers complete their started projects. This year the link-up is global; I am linking up with Leeann at She Can Quilt although there are many options out there.

After some thought, I decided to choose nine projects to focus on for the Finish A Long. This seemed like a good compromise between all the random things I have started and the projects that I should actually prioritize. It has taken me almost a week to finally admit that I am not going to get better pictures than I have right now, at least not before the deadline for posting projects. Pictures for the first six projects are in the mosaic below; I’ve lost the photos I have for the last three projects and will update this post when I either find them or retake the pictures.

Projects listed clockwise from top left.

  1. Bri’s Quilt — quilt top is done, backing fabric pulled and cut but still needs to be pieced.
  2. Brooke’s Quilt — quilt top is done
  3. Lanycea’s Quilt &
  4. Nyrie’s Quilt — fabrics pulled (L’s is blue stack, N’s is purple stack) and I’ve been ironing and starting to cut, just don’t have an updated photo, so they are sharing this one
  5. Rainbow Plus Quilt — fabrics cut and layout is being pondered on my “design wall” (guest bed)
  6. Rainbow Chevron and On Quilt — some blocks have been pieced

I don’t have photos yet for these quilts, although they are substantially in progress.

  1. Charity Baby Quilt — quilt top is done
  2. Michael’s T-Shirt Quilt — most tees have been trimmed and interfaced
  3. Landon’s Quilt — quilt top is done

I’m not sure if nine projects is crazy or not, although most of them are actually pretty small. I would very much like to have the baby quilts done before I visit my family again (probably sometime in February, if I can swing it) and Michael’s birthday is in March, so I would like to have his quilt finished by then. I had a furious bout of creativity and making in October and November, in anticipation of seeing my family over Thanksgiving. I’d like to think that I can replicate that kind of pace, but I would like to be a bit better about balance this time around.

In addition to linking up on the FAL page, I am also linking up to Finish It Friday at crazy mom quilts. Because pulling this list together has truly taken me all week, what with one thing or another!!

2016 Quilting & Sewing Goals

how-we-procrastinate

Goals, goals, goals. I am ever so good at setting them. I am not always so good at following through to completion. Often I try to improve all the areas of my life all at once. And make my goals and resolutions list one big, overwhelming tangle of obligation. This year I am thinking about what I would like to achieve in different areas, and keeping those lists separate places. And they are very task oriented. I do much better with task-oriented goals than I do with abstract self-improvement resolutions.

I’ve broken this list down into two sections, one for quilting and one for sewing. And each section has two parts — skills I’d like to build and specific projects I want to complete to hopefully achieve said skill-building. Of course, I do have some overarching goals that don’t settle nicely into either category or are applicable to both. They are listed below.

BIG GOALS

  • Stick to using fabric and notions primarily from my stash.
    • Items needed to finish projects are acceptable purchases, but I really don’t need any more fabric.
  • Put myself “out there” more often
    • Participate in a swap, comment on other blogs and instagram accounts, participate in link-ups and commit to keeping this blog going for a whole year.
    • This is a total stretch goal because I really, really like to fly under the radar and am kind of shy — pushing myself outside of my comfort zone for sure.
  • Set up a table with handmade items for sale at a crafts market sometime next fall.
    • A friend and I have been bouncing this idea around and while it makes me nervous, I think its the good kind of stretch goal that pushes rather than shoves. I want to feel a lot more confident about my skills before I do anything so drastic, but I like having this as a longer term goal.

Quilting

Skills

  • Perfect 1/4 inch seam allowance
    • I am so not perfect at this. I am not sure what the trick will be with my machine, but I really want to figure it out, as I think it will make so many other things go more smoothly.
  • Seam-matching and perfect points
    • I’d like to get to the point where these match up at least 90% of the time.
  • Curves and circles
    • Could use quite a bit of work. I tend to be drawn to more linear patterns, but I don’t want to avoid things just because I’m afraid of a little bit of curve.
  • Binding
    • Get to the point with machine-bound quilts where the final seam is straight and consistent.
    • Try hand-binding and improve hand finishing skills generally.

Project Goals

  • Finish the three quilts I’ve started for my little nieces and nephews.
  • Make the twins quilts using the fabric I picked out at the end of the year.
  • Finish the t-shirt quilt I started for my husband.
  • Make a rainbow quilt for two friends going through cancer.
  • Make at least one quilt per month.
  • Make a mini quilt each month and use that project to focus on improv and creativity building.
  • Donate at least two quilts to a charity.

Sewing

Skills

  • Learn how to install a zipper.
    • I am weirdly nervous about this, even after watching a number of video tutorials to the point where I can explain how to do it–I’m just reluctant to try it myself.
  • Learn more about pattern matching.
    • Sometimes I’ve done a really good job, but other times not so much. I don’t entirely understand how to make it consistent so it often feels like it happens by accident.
  • Improve my ability to work with fabric cut on the bias.
    • A lot of these skills actually require me to slow down and pay attention to what I’m doing. I have a tendency to go too fast or not think about what I’m doing. And that really shows up when working with bias cut fabric.
  • Build my ability to install closures cleanly and neatly (buttons, snaps, hook/eye).
    • I have a tendency to complete a reasonably nice project and then butcher it with my inability to finish it nicely.
  • Start using better seam finishes than just pinking the edges.
    • Trying to move away from the Becky-Home-Ecky look.

Project Goals

  • Finish the three aprons I’ve started.
  • Try three or four different pouch patterns.
  • Each month, try one new thing that could be sold at at craft table.
  • Make myself two skirts.
  • Finish the two tops that I have started.
  • Make a duffle bag.
  • Build a stash of pot holders and mug rugs to keep on hand for gifting.