Wednesday, August 31, 2011

New Projects

Last week while I was waiting during my daughter's soccer practice I started making a list of all the projects I either had in the works or wanted to start.  It is a L O N G list. This week I've had a little bit of time to tackle that list and I've been creating with a vengeance!  So I've got a couple of things to actually share.

First up, this little guy turned one this week.  Last year I made him this jungle quilt.  For his birthday this week I used a remnant from that quilt to make a little ribbon-tagged carry-along blanket with green minkie on the inside.  Also a new diaper clutch for his mom using a laminated fabric like the one we used for their crib bumper. They turned out pretty cute, if I do say so.
This is a new baby quilt sample for the shop where I work every once in a while. It went to the quilter's today so I'll share the whole quilt when it's finished.
Also I have not one, but two quilts in the binding stage. My Strawberry Fields quilt and this one. I hope to get them finished during Project Runway tomorrow night. (Anyone else watching? Who do you like? I'm still not sure of a clear favorite this time - like Mondo last season.)
And in non-sewing fun, I made a new wreath for my front door using Vanessa's tutorial. She makes it so easy to make it look so good. I've been wanting/desperately needing a stylish new wreath for my front door and V's tutorial came with perfect timing so I shamelessly copied her. Even the color. Mmmm. I found everything for 50% off at JoAnn's while I was trying (fruitlessly) to scope out the new Denyse Schmidt collection.

I'm happy to feel so productive. Amazing how the house staying clean from 9:00-3:00 every day opens up all kinds of possibilities. Especially if I stay away from the computer - I can get tons of stuff done. :)

Monday, August 29, 2011

Sponsored Giveaway from Shabby Fabrics

Today I've got not one, but three gift certificates to giveaway, thanks to Shabby Fabrics.

and the learn more about Shabby Fabrics.

Only comments on the giveaway post (not this post) will be counted toward the giveaway.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Summing-up Summer

At The Secret Garden, Thanksgiving Point, Utah
Most of my kids started school this past week. On Tuesday my baby starts Kindergarten.  
This is a day I NEVER thought would come, and here it is. Isn't life weird?
Weirder yet, my oldest started Junior High School. I think I am far more terrified of that idea than she is.

So, summer. We did it. I don't know if we did it perfectly (please let me know if you find someone who did) but I think we did it well. I was much more sane than last year, that's for sure, and yet I still have some of the same mixed emotions as last year.

I was going to write an inspiring post about the depth of my thoughts and emotions about soaking up summer and motherhood and priorities and living in the moment and how fleeting childhood is, blah, blah. . . .  But every attempt I made to write those thoughts I come up with total blogger's block.

I guess my brain is officially fried.  So I will let this sign I found on Pinterest speak for me instead:
from the beautiful blog, Rhonna Designs
This is what I learned this summer.  Priorities. And sometimes I was more successful than others, but it was good to know I could simplify or put aside stuff like sewing, blogging, mopping the floor :), etc. for my highest priority, which is my family.  And that would make life happier for all. And it worked. Most of the time. :)
I'm looking forward to getting back into our routines and I have a list a mile long of Works-in-Progress, etsy plans, blogging updates, patterns to write, and maybe even a cleaner kitchen floor, while the kids are in school.  In the mean time, thanks so much for hanging out with me and for your patience with my lack of creativity and maybe some flakiness over the past months while my family came first. I know that you were probably doing the same. You people are awesome.

PS Linda and Carol are the winners of the Inspirational Projects giveaway. Yay for Linda and Carol. I've sent you both emails.  Thanks to all who entered and for all of your nice comments. They made my week fun.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Orange Peel progress and a giveaway

Progress on my orange peel quilt (that has no orange in it). 
This one will take a while as it's my take-along handwork project right now.
The nice people at British Patchwork and Quilting spotlighted this blog in their Wandering the Web section of their August 2011 issue. I was so grateful for their shout out. And to make it even more fun, they sent along a few copies of their recent publication Inspirational Projects for me to share with you nice readers.
Leave a comment if you would like to have one of these copies for yourself. Be sure to leave an email address if you are a no-reply blogger so that I can contact you if you win. I will leave the giveaway open until Saturday Aug 27, Midnight MST.
Thanks again British Patchwork and Quilting!

If you're looking for other fun goodies:
Fabricworm is having 15% off all their Japanese imports this week. I just ordered a fun little bundle.
Also, Burgundy Buttons is having a huge sale including current Fall and Halloween Moda collections.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Vintage Red Lattice Quilt

On our recent vacation, we spent a day at my husband's Aunt's wonderful home.  While we were there she let me photograph three vintage quilts that she has.  Fortunately she's visited my blog so she didn't think I was a total weirdo for asking if I could pull quilts outside and take pictures of them.
This quilt was the 'newest' of the three vintage quilts. (I'll share the others in the near future.)  She received this one as a wedding gift in the 1970's.  I was first drawn to it because I'm such a fan of red, but then it was fun to look closer at all the vintage fabrics.
I think I would love reprints of a lot of these. The dark blue on the left reminds me of Denyse Schmidt's recent Fairgrounds collection.
 Love this print too. 
I think it would be fun to recreate this quilt with all kinds of scrappy fabrics. It really is wild.
And here is where this quilt lives. No wonder it's such a happy quilt.

In other news: first week of school here. Crazy.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Travel Handmade - A Fast Messenger Bag

Travel Handmade with The Sewing Summit
This post is part of the Travel Handmade series, for more great travel bag posts click here!

I'm excited to be a part of the Travel Handmade Series today. This series was put together by Megan and Jeni and is 2 weeks of reviews of all kinds of handmade bags for all kinds of purposes from many different blogging sewers.  Today Angela and I  are talking about Travel Purses. I decided, since I don't have to travel extremely far for The Sewing Summit,  that I would make a new messenger bag to take with me. Also to have on hand for basic running around activities. Or maybe I'll be a messenger of some kind.
For this bag, I used my 32-minute Messenger Bag tutorial. It had been a while since I'd made one and I wanted to see if I could really do it in 32 minutes. Well throw in ironing perler bead creations, breaking up a couple of fights, getting people popsicles, etc to the time table and I don't know exactly how long it took to make it - but I do know it was quick and easy. Despite the circus going on around me, I still easily finished my bag in one afternoon.
I used a gorgeous Echino fabric for my bag. I received this pretty piece of fabric from Ashley in North Carolina. (Hi Ashley!) We met briefly at Quilt Market in Salt Lake last spring and I was telling her how much I loved the Echino fabrics at sample spree, but didn't buy any - at which point she offered to send me some from her stash. I was dumbfounded at her generosity and I've been waiting for just the right project to use them - and this worked so well!  I even kept the Echino selvage as part of the design. 

I love my funky new bag and I love that the Echino fabric is a slightly heavier weight fabric than just quilter's cotton. The blue liner/strap fabric is from My Mind's Eye for Riley Blake and the orange is from Nest by Valori Wells.
Another favorite, tried and proven bag I've made is The Wasp Bag. You can find the free pattern download for this bag here.
 Another favorite handmade purse that I've tried personally, is the Buttercup Bag. You can see mine here and you can download the free pattern from Made By Rae. Love this one.
Me and one of the circus performers
Check in with the Travel Handmade Series all week for great handmade bags (of all shapes, sizes and purposes), reviews, and links.  I was so glad for the motivation to make something new and it felt so good to finish something at the sewing machine. For a quick finish of your own you can find the tutorial for this Messenger Bag here. Have fun!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Sewing A to Z with Nancy Zieman

I was recently given the opportunity to review a copy of Nancy Zieman's new book, Sewing A to Z.  You will probably recognize Nancy from her show on PBS and her myriad of other work as one of the most famous sewing teachers in America. (I happened to pass Nancy one morning at Quilt Market and I felt very star struck - now I am kicking myself for not asking her to stop for a picture.) Nancy has been a recognizable sewing guru long before all this internet stuff.

Nancy's new book is not a pattern book, but a book of sewing techniques, demonstrations, and information. The perfect sewing reference guide.   
There are over 100 topics and they are arranged alphabetically, making this book a great source for any sewing tips or questions, and easy to find help or explanation on any topic. Basically, it's a Sewing/Quilting Encyclopedia.
Here is the table of contents (click on the picture to enlarge).  The techniques include both garment sewing as well as quilting basics. I am especially excited about the the garment topics because making clothes is still one of my biggest weaknesses in the sewing department. I am so glad to have this book as a ready reference.

Another great feature of this book is the spiral binding making it easy to search and lie open at the spot you need.
The diagrams included with every topic are excellent. They make Nancy's descriptions so clear and easy to understand. A great confidence booster - especially in those areas where you don't feel confident - like easing sleeves for me!
Finally the book is full of great tips and ideas for organizing, simplifying and improving all aspects of your sewing adventures. Reading it I learned so much about basics like: which needles to use when, the differences in knit fabrics and how to best store clothes patterns. Really great basics in a simple, easy to understand text.

I will be honest and tell you that I don't buy a lot of sewing books - partly because I feel like I can find what I'm looking for online, etc. so I have to feel like it's really worth my money to go out and purchase a book.  I was so impressed by Sewing A to Z and I whole-heartedly recommend buying this book!  It is so handy to have one go-to place for all my sewing questions. And the fact that it can lay flat next to my sewing machine while I work makes it perfect.  

I can't recommend this book enough - especially if you are a beginning sewer. It contains invaluable information.  I also recommend it as a great gift for someone who is just getting their feet wet in the sewing world.

To sample the book yourself, visit Sew Mama Sew for a free download of section about Seams. Also, over the next few weeks, you can visit these blogs to see their reviews and thoughts on the book as well: 

Or you can check out Nancy herself sharing tips and techniques from Sewing A to Z in this online episode

And finally, stop by Nancy's blog and leave a comment to enter her amazing giveaway (with a retail value of $450) of all kinds of sewing loot.  Good luck! And and now go forth and sew with new confidence, thanks to Nancy.

Full disclosure: I was provided a copy of Sewing A to Z by F+W Media. The thoughts and opinions in this post are entirely my own.

Monday, August 15, 2011

A trip to Maine

A quick "what I did on my summer vacation" recap.  My husband's parents live in Maryland and most summers we take our summer vacation to visit them at their home. This year they planned a trip to Little Sebago Lake in Maine to visit the rest of the extended family, so we decided to spend time with them there and see the rest of the extended family as well. My husband's sister and her family came too so the kids had fun cousins to play with as well.  Happiness for all.
You can't go to Maine without having a Lobster feast. I think it's in the constitution for the state of Maine.
No arguments here.
Portland, Maine image here
We had a couple of rainy days and one of them we took a trip into Portland.  Portland is a beautiful old city on a wharf.  I love driving through Cape Elizabeth to see the Portland Head Lighthouse.

While in Portland we did a little bit of family history research. (Have you ever watched the show Who Do You Think You Are where famous people trace their family history and visit some of the locations where their ancestors lived? I love that show. We had some of those moments.)  My mother-in-law's grandparents emigrated from Italy in the early 20th Century and settled in the Portland area. Both of her parents were born in the US but her grandparents were true Italians to the point where they never even really spoke English.  She recently wrote a story for my girls about visiting her Italian grandmothers as a child. We decided it would be fun to go find the homes where they lived.

We knew one home was there - a little 3 bedroom cape colonial where the family raised 9! children in a neighborhood in South Portland. The other home was a 19th-century appartment building in downtown Portland and we weren't sure if it would still be there. My mother-in-law gave us the address and described the building and we found it!  We also found the church across the street where Rosina Aliberti went to mass every morning. And the best part was that the street was decorated with red, green and white pennants in preparation for the Italian street festival that weekend!  It was so fun to feel the Italian flavor of this part of Portland where my husband's great-grandmother lived and where his grandfather grew up.  We loved it!
Finally, we also spent a day with extended family in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. I think that Portsmouth is one of my favorite places to visit ever. SO beautiful and picturesque.  My husband's parents are from here and were high school sweethearts at Portsmouth High School. They lived in Portsmouth the first few years that my husband and I were married and we visited them a bunch of times. If you ever plan a trip to New England, visit Portsmouth. Quintessential New England all in one stop.
We spent a day at the beach at Newcastle Commons with extended family, including my husband's grandma - my kids' great-Nonna. I have the fondest memories of Portsmouth and staying with my husband's Italian grandparents.  His grandfather has since passed away, but we were able to spend time with Nonna and I think she thoroughly enjoyed watching her posterity play at the beach. We wish we could see her more.

Also in Portsmouth we drove past one of my favorite homes (picture above) where one of the ancestors of my father-in-law lived. His family has lived in Portsmouth 10-12 generations! This house is on Newcastle island and was started in 1647!  I'm always tempted to knock on the door and claim it through the family line. Think they'd turn it over to us?
Portland Head Lighthouse, Cape Elizabeth, Maine
So a great trip was had by one and all. I wish we could pull it off every summer.
Beautiful places to visit. 
But the best part was family.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Home Again

Back from a family trip to Maine. It's been a great week.

Heavenly. Great to be with family. Good to get away, out of the heat, and disconnect from the phone and the internet (as much as possible) and eat some 'lobstah'. We spent some great time with my husband's extended family who live in Maine and New Hampshire.  Surrounded by scenery so unlike here in Utah. (And humidity). It was sad to leave.

(I didn't mention the details before because I don't really like to publicly announce that we're gone and my fabric stash and cherry tomato plants are left alone and defenseless.)
And now we're home and down to one week left of summer vacation before school starts!!  I have lots to share and catch up on here, but we may be having our last summer hurrahs this week. Hope you're having some fun summer hurrahs yourself. Enjoy a Dove bar for me.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Lavendar Sachets from Calli at Make It Do

Hi, My name is Calli from Make it Do. While Amy is away enjoying some time with her family, I am so happy to be here on Diary of a Quilter sharing a little tutorial today. Amy and I have become dear friends... first through our blogs and then in person. She is one of my favorite people and truly a kindred spirit. Have a great vacation Amy!

Today I'm sharing a project that uses up some of our summer bounty. Lavender is coming out of my ears from my garden right now and there are few scents I love more. In fact I got in my car this morning and thought I NEED a lavender sachet for my car. After a summer of camping and swimming and hiking... my car smells musty and oh so bad. This is a fast and easy lavender project that makes a useful gift for teachers or friends too. So here we go:

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Far and away, the most useful flower in my garden is lavender. I use it for a number of different projects including Lavender Eye Pillows, Lavender Bottles and Sachets. I love they way it smells... clean and not too sweet.

Lavender sachets are not just for my lingerie drawer. A sachet is wonderful in a linen drawer, or even in a desk drawer. Your stationary will take on the slight scent of lavender.

If you don't want or have time to sew, a sachet can be made from a lace handkerchief. Put the lavender in the center of the handkerchief, pull the corners up to the center and tie a ribbon around the bundle.

If you have a small amount of fabric and a couple minutes, it's easy to sew a sachet bag. My favorite kind of sachet are ribbon closed bags, because it's easy to open the bag and refresh the scent by adding a few drops of essential oil. Or when it gets too old, it's easy to replace the lavender altogether.

Here's how to make sachet:

To dry lavender from your garden, cut the stems on a dry morning. I place rubber band around the base of the stems, then tie a piece of twine in a slip knot around that. I hang them in a cool dry place (my basement) for several weeks. Once dry, they are ready to use.

The quickest way I've found to remove lavender from stems is to lay the dried lavender on a clean dishtowel.

Fold up the towel and roll it with a rolling pin.

Unroll the towel and discard the stems. This method doesn't remove every flower from the stems, but it's fast and does a good job. Shake the flowers from the towel into a bowl.

For a sachet, I prefer fabric with 100% natural fibers, such as cotton, linen or silk. I've even cut up old linen bedding for sachets. (Even when the bedding has some holes, it's easy to find enough good fabric to make many sachets.

Cut a piece of fabric 11" x 8".

Fold the fabric in half lengthwise, right sides together.

Using a 1/2 inch seam, stitch along the long side and bottom of the folded fabric.

Fold the top of the fabric down a little more than halfway. There will be no need to stitch the fold into place, as it will be tucked down inside the bag. This method makes the top of the sachet very clean. I've made them before with a hem at the top and it looks messy, this method is much better.

Press the top of the fold.

Turn the bag right side out, using a chopstick to make the corners crisp. Fill with about 3/4 cup of lavender. You can also substitute other herbs or spices that you love such as: cloves, lemon peel, cedar shavings, or cinnamon sticks that have been crushed.

Tie the top of your sachet with ribbon.

It's ready for the drawer. If it stops smelling as strongly, I give it a squeeze, which releases some of the oils. A lavender sachet in a drawer will last for at least a couple of years.... sometimes longer.

Sachets are a great way to use up your supply of lavender from the garden. And if, like me, you have a copious amounts of lavender, sew extra sachets and put them away for last minute gifts.

Thanks so much, Calli! If you haven't visited Calli's blog, Make It Do, go! It is another must read full of lots of amazing recipes, cleaning tips, and tricks and sewing inspiration. I'm in love with this new quilt she is working on.