Thursday, August 30, 2012

Little Quilter hits the Big Apple

My husband has had a lot of travel recently for his job.  Last week he had business in New York.  With the kids back in school and Grandma available to stay with them, I decided to tag along this time.  It was short- only a couple of days - but a nice getaway after a busy summer.

New York feels familiar. I used to visit my sister there and I made a trip with my husband a couple of years ago. I've compiled a list of places for sew-y inspiration in New York, if you're interested.  I hit a few of those old favorites again, but also visited some new places.  One of which was The City Quilter which I'll review in a separate post.
I had one day all by myself, and I made the most of it.  (I have no trouble keeping myself entertained.)  I hit the Fashion District, briefly, in hopes of stalking Tim Gunn.  No luck. It would have been nice to get a good Tim Gunn pep talk and hug. (Speaking of which, with the end of summer and the Olympics, I haven't had time to start watching this season of Project Runway.  Now that things have settled down a little bit, I'm hoping to start catching up.)
One of my favorite areas of New York is Soho.  Lots of personality and good shopping like Pearl River Mart and the Jonathan Adler store. One of my favorite spots there is Purl Soho. Such an gorgeous store with lots of inspiration and eye candy. While there I splurged on my first bit of Liberty lawn.  
I also visited a new-to-me-quilt-shop on the upper east side, Pins and Needles Fabric Boutique.  I'd featured them in a previous post, but had never been to the shop in person. It was great!  It's in a little upstairs space above a cafe, but the space is maximized fabulously. Lots of natural light at both ends and while fabric space is slightly limited, the bolts available are so well chosen. Lots of Liberty, Leciens, Kokka's (some of which I purchased) and both quilting and garment weight fabrics available. So great to have something like this available in this part of the city. 

There was a little girls' garment sewing class going on while I visited and I was getting the biggest kick out of it: a) because I have girls those ages and I know what it's like to get them to focus and b) because I remember doing the same thing to my own sewing teacher when I was 12. :)
During the time my husband wasn't working, we visited some sites and areas of the city we'd never been before. The first night after we arrived we visited the relatively recent development called the Highline. (Many thanks to Anne for suggesting in on the Facebook page!)  It's basically a reclaimed elevated train line on the west side of the city that has been transformed into a long, elevated boardwalk/park.  It was so awesome! I loved the resourceful repurposing of something that could have been an eyesore and turning it into something attractive and useful. Lots of plants and flowers, as well as cafes, galleries, and gorgeous views of the Hudson.  My favorite was the water feature that kids were splashing in (bottom left.) Instead of water spraying upward, it stayed close to the ground, but was enough to cool off with on a hot, humid evening.
Another first: we took the ferry out to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, first stop of hundreds of thousands of people emigrating to America..  My husband has Italian great-grandparents who emigrated to America in the early 20th century. We're not sure which ones came through Ellis Island, but it motivated us to learn more about their stories. We also visited the 9/11 memorial (right) and witnessed the construction of the new World Trade Center development. The memorial was even more moving than I expected it to be. It's a powerful and appropriate tribute to the many lives that were lost and affected that day. 
Speaking of Italians, I spent the last hours before catching our flight exploring Little Italy with my own Italian Stallion and consuming fabulous pizza. We ate at Pomodoro's on Spring and Mulberry.  I think it's my favorite pizza on the planet.  I wish I could find a way to conveniently duplicate it.  I have to confess, I think my most favorite part about trips to NYC is the food. Oh the food.
While we're on the subject of NYC, have you heard about Quilters Take Manhattan? (Not to be confused with The Muppets Take Manhattan - there are no muppet babies or chicken harems involved in this event.)
QTM logo

Quilters Take Manhattan is an event to support The Quilt Alliance, a non profit organization dedicated to the preservation of the heritage of American quilts, including documenting quiltmakers and their stories. This event features guests such as Denyse Schmidt, Mark Lipinski and Jennifer Chiaverini. You can find out more about attending and purchasing tickets here. If you're like me, and you can't be there in person, there is a "Home Ticket" option where you'll get access to video footage as well as gifts, samples and other swag from sponsors and eligibility to win door prizes or buy signed copies of Denyse Schmidt's latest book. Very cool. Check it out.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Seaside Stars - New Quilt Pattern

Hurrah! A finished project - this quilt is made from the fabrics in Riley Blake's Seaside collection that came out this summer.  It's one of my favorite recent collections and made for such a good summer project. I especially love the scrappy combination of stars.
This quilt is a throw/lap size - perfect size for a picnic or a night of star gazing, or if you're like me: a much needed nap.  In the end, it took me slightly longer than I had planned - such is the nature of summer. (Why do I ever think I'll crank something out quickly in the summer? One of these day's I'll learn.)  At least we're in for a few more weeks of good weather around here, so we'll put it to some outdoor use.  I especially love the plaid on the back and the cheerful bias stripes for the binding.
The quilting on this one was done by Melissa of Sew Shabby Quilting.  She is a professional long-arm machine quilter. Her prices are amazing and her completion time is generally around one week! I wanted just a simple, all over stipple for this quilt but she offers so much more.  She has many fabulous 'computerized' pattern options available to choose from, and she can do amazing customized work as well. Melissa is also offering a 30% off discount on any quilting if you mention "Diary of a Quilter'.  That is a screamin' deal - even in you're shipping from far away!
In addition to completing the quilt itself, the pattern is finally finished as well. The pattern includes instructions for the original throw size (72" x 72") as well as twin, queen, and king size versions.  The pattern is available for instant download or in my etsy shop.  Fabric requirements are given in the pattern listing.
In addition to the pattern, Randi at Fresh Squeezed Fabric has created kits for this quilt! The kits include everything you need (except the backing yardage) to make the throw sized version like mine. Kits available here as well as yardage from the Seaside collection. (Post Edit: Kits are sold out, but some yardage is still available.  Seaside is also available at Fabricworm, and Fat Quarter Shop.


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Summer of the traveling Hexies

A few months back, I needed a good project for a road trip in the car.  So I started making little tiny hexagon flowers.  It's a perfect way to use up scraps and it's so portable I can take them with me anywhere.
Last fall, my friend Amy gave me this cute little pencil box (from Target, I think.)
It has become the perfect traveling-hexie box for carrying all my supplies and keeping them handy for any spare moment in the car or at the pool when I can pick up and do a little hand work.  The box stays with me in my purse at all times.  Inside I keep my templates, a bunch of fabric scraps, scissors and a bobbin of thread - smaller and more portable than a spool - in the box.  The sturdiness of the box keeps everything safe and it doesn't get ratty like a plastic bag does.
 I just started adding the white hexagons that will surround the colored flowers.
I like the potential here.  I'm using the 5/8" hexagons from PaperPieces.com. They're little, so it's going to take some time to have anything sizeable put together, but I'm fine with that since I love having my little portable project during all that normally-'wasteable' time.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Bee Blocks + end of summer

Now that the end of summer vacation has come to a close, I'm starting to catch-up on a few bits of sewing, including a couple of Bee blocks. The one above is for Amy.  I LOVE the wild Echino prints that she sent. This will be such a bright, exuberant quilt!
This block is for Nedra.  The block comes from Allison's Spin Cycle quilt.  I've always loved that quilt and it was such a fun block to assemble - I think I need to to make one of these.  Such a good way to bust some stash too.
And finally, school started this past Tuesday and my baby started first grade! He even wore his favorite Turtle shirt to impress his classmates. I assumed he'd miss me so much, being gone all day for the first time, so I walked up to the school to meet him on his way home. As he zoomed past me on his scooter he yelled, "See ya sucker!" Then when we got home and I tried to give him a big hug he said, "Mom! I'm not in Kindergarten anymore!"  So apparently my role as a mother is complete. (kidding)

I'm still in a state of disbelief that I've reached the stage of my life where all my children are in school all day. It doesn't mean our life will be totally free of all craziness, but it does mean that I will have a chunk of uninterrupted time each day along with the remote possibility that our house will stay slightly less messy sometimes - or it could just mean that I won't have anyone else to blame the mess on.

I do have to admit though, that whenever someone asks me what I'm going to do with my time and if I'm going to be 'bored' with my children gone all day, I want to laugh maniacally. My to-do list is so long, I don't think I'll have time to get bored for at least 20 years.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Quick and Easy Fat Quarter Skirt Tutorial

Hello friends! I actually sat at my sewing machine and sewed last week. I know! So exciting! Today I am going to share a quick and easy skirt tutorial made entirely from Fat Quarters. I have been in love with Pat Bravo's Summerlove collection and used it to make the perfect summer skirt for my daughter.
Fabric requirements:
1" wide elastic for waistband
10 Fat Quarters (I used this many because I wanted the variety of fabric but you could get by with as few as 6 FQ's)
Set aside 1 Fat Quarter for the hem finish.  Take the rest of the FQ's and cut them in half lengthwise creating two 9" x 22" pieces.  You will need 9 total of these pieces. (You can set aside the others for a different project, or use them to make a second skirt.)
Using a 3/8" seam allowance, sew the pieces together to form one long strip of panels.  Keep all the selvage edges on the same edge, lined up evenly. 
Press the seam allowances to the side. Optional: topstitch over the seam allowances for extra stability. 
 
Square off the raw edge (opposite the selvage edges) so that the bottom edge of the skirt panel is even.
From the remaining FQ (to use for the hemming edge) cut 5 strips 3" x 22" wide. Sew the strips together end to end to create one long strip.
Fold the strip in half lengthwise and press.
Pin raw edges of the folded strip to the wrong-side (back) of the bottom (not selvage) edge of the panel. Sew on using a 1/4" seam allowance. Trim off excess.
Fold the panel up to the front of the skirt panel (raw edges should now be hidden underneath the hemming strip).  Press carefully and then top-stitch at the top and bottom edge of the strip to give a nice finished hem. 
 Bring side edges of the skirt panel together, pin, and sew with a 3/8" seam allowance to create a skirt "tube".
Take unfinished top edge of the skirt and fold down about 2".  Because the selvages have a finished edge, I did not worry about turning that edge under, but if you don't like the look of the selvages there, you could do so. Sew folded edge down to create a casing for the elastic, leaving a 2" opening at the back to of the skirt open to insert the elastic. 
Measure the amount of elastic you will need and thread it through the casing, gathering the skirt as you go.  Bring elastic edges together and securely sew them to each other. 
And voila- a very quick and simple summer skirt, perfect for showing off lots of pretty prints.

This skirt perfectly fits a size 10-12 size girl.  You could easily make a smaller version by cutting the panels slightly shorter.  You could also add more panels for a fuller version. Happy Sewing!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Sponsored Giveaway from Pink Castle Fabrics


Pink Castle Fabrics
Today I'm so excited to introduce you to one of my sponsors and one of my favorite online fabric shops: Pink Castle Fabrics. I am such a fan of their selection - lots of my favorite collections, all in one place. Including brand new collections like:

Chicopee - Fat Quarter Bundle
Chicopee by Denyse Schmidt, 
Madrona Road - Fat Quarter Bundle
Madrona Road by Violet Craft, 
Mermaid Play in Breeze
Out to Sea by Sarah Jane (mermaids and narwhals!), 
Nursery Versery - Fat Quarter Bundle
and Nursery Versery by Heather Ross.  They all make me a little swoony.
     
Pink Castle Fabrics is also home of the Stash Stack Club.  I love this concept.  Brenda has combined with color-maven-extraordinaire, Jeni to create a monthly bundle of stash-building fabrics, one color each month.  You can sign-up for the bundle of six or twelve fat quarters per month.  Such a brilliant way to build your color stash a little bit at a time.
Berry Picking - Blogger Bundle by Rachel from Stitched In Color
Pink Castle also has a fabulous selection of 'Blogger Bundles' - pre-selected Fat Quarter bundles in a variety of colors and themes from a variety of quilting bloggers.  This is so perfect for anyone out there who dreads picking and pulling fabrics together, but wants to break out of just using manufacturer's collections. You can see the bundles here. And you can currently get them for 20% off using the code Blogger20 at checkout. 

And in even MORE fun news, Pink Castle is having a HUGE sale right now.  With so many new collections arriving daily with more on the way (like Liberty quilter's cottons!) Brenda needs to move out a lot of inventory.  Lots of great collections are on clearance right now such as Flea Market Fancy, School Days, and Summersville for $5 a yard! Perfect time to stock up on backs!  Also,  great color stash builders like Robert Kaufman's Metro Living circles and lattice and Timeless Treasures Sketch 'solids'.  To see everything on sale, go here.

To keep up with future arrivals and sales, you can follow Pink Castle Fabrics on Facebook and Twitter.
 Finally, awesome Brenda at Pink Castle Fabrics is giving away a 'cool' fat-eighth bundle and a 'warm' fat-eighth bundle to one of you readers. (Free fabric!) To enter, visit Pink Castle Fabrics and tell me which of their collections is your favorite and leave a comment on this post.

For an additional entry, sign up for Brenda's newsletter so that you can receive a pretty picture of her latest fabric stack.  Leave a second comment telling me if you've done this. 

Giveaway open until Tuesday, August 21 at Midnight. GIVEAWAY CLOSED.

Winner: J Lewis said...

Oh my--I love a lot of the collection, but Metro Living (the lattice especially) is my favorite. I always come back to the circles. Thanks for the opportunity, I'm going to the site right now to buy some other stuff with my birthday money.
Jennifer

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Well at least there's pretty scenery to look at

Oh, hello there. Fancy meeting you here. We are back from our epic road trip adventure to the Teton Mountain Range and Yellowstone National Park.  I hope you'll pardon the "What I Did On My Summer Vacation" travel report.  I have zero new sewing projects to share, but I do have pictures of pretty scenery, so I hope you'll bear with me.
Jenny Lake in the Tetons. I love this place. This was someplace I went multiple times as a child, but haven't been back in over 20 years.  Going as an adult was like seeing everything through new eyes. I appreciated the beauty so much more. I guess I'm finally growing up.

I felt that way in Yellowstone National Park, in particular.  Now I get why it's a big deal. Incredible.
It's kind of like 7 national parks rolled into one. The scenery varies so much from one area to the next. Here are the geysers and hot-pot springs. Crazy amazing.
 Not to mention the wildlife, including these guys who strolled right in front of our car.
There you go.  It was so therapeutic to get away with just the family and leave the world behind. Now that we're back I need to somehow wade through my email inbox and giant to-do list. I'm SO behind on everything right now. And somehow I need to catch up on the last days of the Olympics that are filling up my DVR.

But more importantly, there is only one week of summer vacation left. Yikes. I'm feeling emotions ranging back and forth between sadness that summer went so fast, to guilt wondering if we made the most of it, to sheer joy at the thought of the house actually staying clean for more than a few minutes each day as well as the remote possibility that I might actually regain control of my life. We'll see!