Monday, December 8, 2014

Stockings

We finally have stockings for everyone in our family! And they are even hung! But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let me start at the beginning. I really get into Christmas. Yes, I'm the crazy lady watching Christmas movies in October because I'm that excited. So about five years ago when my husband and I moved into our first house, I was determined to go all out with Christmas decorations, including making stockings for each of us. I found this really cool spiral stocking pattern in American Patchwork & Quilting, and started on my husband's. This pattern is paper pieced, and there are A LOT of pieces. And this was one of my first paper pieced projects. It turned out really neat in the end, but I won't lie, it was a lot of work. So of course my motivated stalled after finishing this one.


Because my husband is pretty non-traditional in his tastes, I chose non-traditional fabrics and colors. He liked it. Or so he says ;-). Fun fact, because there are so many tiny pieces and I wasn't confident in paper piecing, I left all the paper in the patchwork. The stocking has a bit of a crinkle to it, haha.

Fast forward to last winter. Having Lorelai renewed my motivation to make stockings for our family. I decided to move away from the spiral stocking and went with simple, sweet patchwork squares in colors and fabrics that made me think of Lorelai. Red, pink, aqua, a little grey/cream. And those little gnomes appear again!



Scrapping the same stocking pattern as before meant needed a new pattern. But I wanted the stockings to be the same size and shape. So thinking I'd be smart and avoid tracing the finished stocking for my husband, I used the individual paper pattern pieces from that project. Well, obviously something was lost in translation. Lorelai's stocking ended up much bigger! Oh well, more room for goodies I guess.

The process for this one was pretty simple. I basically made a piece of patchwork that would cover my stocking pattern/template, trimmed it to that shape, basted it to some batting and quilted it. I trimmed my batting down, and then I used this tutorial to add a lining and cuff. I had to figure out my cuff dimensions though, they were not the same.


I plowed ahead and completed my stocking in November. I wanted it to be similar to Lorelai's in that it would have some kind of pieced body with a solid cuff. I didn't care too much whether all my stockings match...I wanted them to reflect each family member. So for me, it had to be those polar bears. They come from Laurie Wisbrun's Brrr collection. This is an older collection, but I drooled over those polar bears in the red/turquoise colorway for months. When I finally purchased just two small cuts of fabric I hoarded it for many more months, waiting for just the right purpose. I'm so happy to have these pretty fabrics turned into something lovely in my living room!



So here they are, all finished and waiting to be stuffed with treats on Christmas Eve :-).


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Progress


Back in October I started a sewing 'to do' list to be completed before Christmas. Ha. Some of that list was definitely wishful thinking on my part!!! But I can say that some of it has been checked off already. Let's review...

    -Plush baby block for Lorelai's birthday. I've made them for other baby friends so she needs one, right?

All done! The only fabric in my stash that really said 'Lorelai' to me was those little gnomes again. I'm a sucker for little bearded holiday characters I guess. You may remember them from the dress I made her last Christmas. The fabric is from the same Michael Miller collection.







    -Birthday bunting for Lorelai's party



I ended up making her birthday bunting out of scrapbook paper due to lack of time and unfortunately I didn't get any good pictures of it. Sorry!

    -Lorelai's Christmas stocking (already started!)
    -My Christmas stocking


Our stockings are done and hanging in our living room, but I will save those for another post ;-).

    -Friendship quilt (post on this one coming soon...)


This one is in progress. Slow progress. I keep getting distracted with other projects, imagine that! But here's a sneak peak. My best friend had the truly awesome idea to make quilts together that would commemorate our friendship and our addiction to Downton Abbey. We started watching the series together ages ago and are slowly working our way through it. Life and little babes are keeping the pace pretty slow. The idea was to try and use the Downton Abbey fabric in our quilts, but neither of us really liked those prints. It's strange because the clothes on the show are really beautiful but I didn't see that reflected in the fabrics. Anyway, we compromised with using a few of the more appealing prints and mixing them with a variety of other fabrics. Because the Downton Abbey collection seemed to be mostly dark jewel tones, that was the direction we went with but maybe more richer and more vibrant. Probably from my influence...I just NEED color in my life. Anyway, more on this quilt later.


    -Christmas gifts...need to decide the what and who...


OK, so I think I'm making pretty good progress here too but I can't share everything in this category for obvious reasons ;-). I can tell you that I decided to make Lorelai and one other special kiddo hooded towels for Christmas, and I have an enticing stack of towels waiting for me in the sewing room now.

 
    -Lorelai's Christmas dress


The pattern is purchased and downloaded. The fabric is on it's way. I just hope this one isn't too much for me, clothes are not my strong suit!

    -Baby quilt to donate

I just started this one yesterday. No matter what projects I have going, I always have the craving to piece. Some people like the quilting part of the process, some prefer to applique. I'm a piecer. 


I've had this charm pack called Sakura Park in my stash for awhile now, I won it from Amy at Diary of a Quilter during one of her giveaways. It has really pretty, delicate colors and designs which I thought would make for a nice baby girl quilt.


My design inspiration came from a magazine ad...maybe American Patchwork & Quilting? Anywho, I've wanted to try out the snowball block anyway so why not now? I'm going to add sashing and/or borders to make this quilt a little bigger but I think I'll be able to get away with only using this one charm pack and my Kona Snow background fabric.


Well I think I'm doing pretty well! I'm fully prepared to accept that I won't finish the friendship quilt before Christmas though. And that's OK, it's been a really fun project to work on with my best friend, so I kind of don't want to be done! How are your holiday preparations going?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Baby Plus Quilt

Today I'm finally sharing my latest finished quilt-my baby plus quilt. I've had this one done for awhile, I took it to the craft fair with me (so you may have seen peeks of it already). I really LOVE this one. I usually like all of my quilts, but I just love the colors and fabrics in this one.


A plus quilt has been on my 'to-do' list for awhile. They've been popular in blogland for awhile now, and I like the simplicity of them, and how they can really showcase colors and fabrics. So with the design picked out, I just needed a color scheme. I've been pinning color cards on Pinterest like mad, so I figured that was a great place to start looking for inspiration.


This is the color card I went with. What do you think? Did I capture these colors with my quilt? I think I did pretty well. The daisy photo  is so pretty, but I like how the colors themselves can actually read gender neutral. I think it is so difficult to make really nice gender neutral pieces. It seems like all of the cute prints just end up looking like a boy or girl fabric.

I ended up ordering several teals, aquas, and golds for this quilt because my stash was lacking in those colors. I tend to use them a lot. I found it really difficult to find the 'right' teal or aqua when ordering online! It seems that every manufacturer has a different interpretation of teal and aqua...so some of my picks ended up more blue and others more green. That's fine, more fabric for my stash!

I typically don't enjoy sewing long rows together for quilts, so I sewed this quilt top together in blocks instead. I arranged all of my individual squares on my design wall first. Once I was satisfied with the layout, I began sewing the squares together into 9-patch blocks. This worked wonderfully! The top came together pretty fast and my seams matched up pretty well. I think if I had done this in rows I would have had more misaligned seams.


I used my typical Warm & White batting on this one, but I didn't have a piece that was quite big enough. I ended up splicing two pieces together. This was my first time trying this technique, and it worked really well. I laid the two pieces side-by-side and used my zig-zag stitch to sew them together. You can't tell where the batting seam is in the finished quilt at all. It's a great way to use up batting scraps.


You can see my new HardcoreQuilts fabric label in the binding of this quilt. I'm happy to report that it was a cinch to sew this in. I also used flannel for the first time as the backing. I will definitely do that again! It makes for a really soft backing. I was a little worried that I'd have trouble with the quilting since I have cotton on top and flannel on the back, but I didn't. The quilting was pretty simple, I echo-quilted a few of the pluses and then a few rectangles here and there to fill in any open spots.

I love this quilt so much I'm tempted to keep it! But, I don't really need more baby quilts around here (yet!) so I've listed it in my Etsy shop. I may be making more plus quilts like it soon though...it was so much fun :-).

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

New Shop Listings

Good morning!

If you're like me you've already started (at least thinking about) your Christmas shopping. I hate fighting the crowds in December, so I try to get it all done early. Well...(get ready for shameless plug now)...I added some new listings to my Etsy shop! So if you're looking for a high quality, unique, handmade gift for someone please check out my shop or contact me for a custom order. I find handmades are great for those on my list that are hard to shop for, that seem to 'have everything'.

I've expanded my listings to include baby/child products from the craft fair. I always planned to, I was just a little slow in getting there ;-). I now offer made-to-order burp cloth sets, crayon rolls, and personalized plush baby blocks.







There's a couple mug rugs on there too. Have you heard of a mug rug? I LOVE them. It's basically a large coaster, made pretty with some piecing and quilting, and insulated with batting. I use them to hold hot bowls of food, as a decorative candle mat, or to absorb condensation from my water bottles.




That's it for now...I'm working on another listing or two but not quite ready yet. I've started some of my holiday sewing too and I'm excited to share what I've been working soon. Thanks for reading!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Craft Fair Recap

A few weeks ago I had a table at a local vendor and craft fair. It was my first time trying this, I wanted to see how well I liked the experience as well as whether it would be worth it financially. So what's the verdict? A bit mixed I would say.

There was a lot of prep. I spent a little over a month diligently creating inventory...for me that meant probably 1-2 days a week of sewing. With a little one keeping me busy that's about all I could manage. I also spent some time designing my table, but I kept it really simple so I don't feel that I spent too much time on that. In the end I had about 40 items or so, not a ton but enough, I felt, to fill a small table and feel good about.


Unfortunately I didn't get a lot of photos, but you can get an idea (I apologize for the smartphone photos!). I went with a simple grey table cloth so that my products would 'pop' off the table. Most of my other 'props' are things I found around the house. I wanted to give my table more dimension, instead of just laying items flat on the table. So I found a plain old box, wrapped it in white and silver chevron paper, and used it as a stand for my basket of burp cloths. I used my bathroom towel stand to display one of my favorite kitchen towels. I found a simple chalkboard at Hobby Lobby and used it as my brand sign. I wanted a nice way to display my baby quilts and tote bags so that they would be eye-catching. I had a drying rack sitting in storage and...presto! Instant quilt stand at no extra cost. The bunting was draped across my sewing room design wall, so I borrowed it for the event.



Even with only my Etsy shop I figured business cards are a must. I ordered them from Vistaprint, which was extremely fast, great quality, and easy to use. I highly recommend them. For the craft fair they doubled as price tags.


I also tried to incorporate my sew-in labels where I could, much of my inventory was already made by the time I received them. I ordered them from BixbyBasil and I am very happy with them. The text is printed on twill, and they were easy to cut apart and sew into my pieces.


I did my research too-how much cash to have on hand, what to bring, how to sell more. All my research and preparation paid off, because the day of the craft fair I felt very confident and prepared. I really can't think of much I would have done differently.

So what did I sell and how did it go? I brought small amounts (5-10 range) of several products. This was sort of a 'test market' for me, to determine what sells and what doesn't. In the home goods category I had kitchen towels (sets of 2), coasters (sets of 4), mug rugs (large coasters), pillow covers, and tote bags. For baby/children I had burp cloths (sets of 3), baby quilts, and crayon rolls. I ended up selling a bit more than I thought I would, and it was a smattering of several items. The towels and burp cloths were well liked. The coasters sold better than I thought they would. I was a bit surprised at what did not sell-going in I thought the crayon rolls and tote bags would go. I only sold two crayon rolls and zero totes. I'm glad I had the variety I did, since I wasn't very accurate in my predictions ;-).



From a financial stand point I definitely made back the money I put into the event. I didn't make out like gangbusters, but it was worth doing the fair. I also had a pretty good time in the process. I will say the time frame of the event really helped-it was 9:00am-2:00pm so the day wasn't too long. We noticed a definite 'lull' after about 12pm, so the high I felt from selling in the morning sort of evaporated by the end of the day. However, a major fringe benefit to this experience was the exposure and networking with other vendors/sellers.

I'm really glad I did the vendor and craft fair and I plan to do more in the future. I decided to take the rest of the year off though, to build inventory over the winter. Plus it's a busy time of year at home! I have gifts to make for family and friends as well as a few orders to fill :-).

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Doing

I've actually had plenty to blog about lately, lots of projects completed and in the works. But with the craft fair preparation I just didn't have time to post something. Now that it's over I'm trying to catch up and get back to some of my 'fun sewing' projects. By the way, the fair was this past Saturday, and it went very well for my first time. More on that later...I'm still pondering what I thought of the whole experience, was it worth it, etc.

Anyway, how about a fun finish? I made these coasters by request for a friend. She asked that they match her living room, which is decorated in blues and brown. Like me she loves green so I had to throw some of that in there ;-). Picking out fabrics for this was really fun. I used the green and blue plaid as a jumping off point. I LOVE how they turned out! Too bad they wouldn't match my living room.



I made these using an old tutorial I have called 'the crisscross coasters'. I only have it in hard copy...it's probably out in cyberspace somewhere. I really like this tutorial though, because you don't have to top-stitch and turning is super easy. You basically layer folded rectangles of fabric and then sew around the perimeter. You turn the coaster right-side-out from the middle since it is open (kind of like a basket weave I guess?).

Switching gears, the holidays are already on my mind! I have so many potential projects in my head, I'm going to start a list in hopes that I finish all (some?) of them. So here goes,

    -Plush baby block for Lorelai's birthday. I've made them for other baby friends so she needs one, right?
    -Birthday bunting for Lorelai's party
    -Lorelai's Christmas stocking (already started!)
    -My Christmas stocking
    -Friendship quilt (post on this one coming soon...)
    -Christmas gifts...need to decide the what and who...
    -Lorelai's Christmas dress
    -Baby quilt to donate

This list is looking pretty ambitious. That's OK, it's something to aspire to!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Long ago in a galaxy far, far away...

 

Da dah! I give you the Lego Princess Leia onesie. Modeled by the cutest baby girl ever (biased much?!). We are a Star Wars family over here at HardcoreQuilts, and it just didn't seem right to not have Star Wars baby clothing. A lot of the options out there are very boy oriented, and I like to make stuff so I thought-why not? This is a quick project and wasn't my first time appliqueing onto a onesie or t-shirt. I've made similar things for friends in the past.

(Let me sing to you mommy, while you take my picture!)

For this project I searched Google images for a silhouette of Lego Princess Leia, and made a couple of modifications. Namely, I made the image bigger, gave her a dress, and separated the hair from the body so that I could use two different fabrics. I used fusible web to attach the fabric pieces to the clothing, and then stitched them down.


I did find that with stretchy clothes like this onesie it is a good idea to use a stretch needle and the stretch stitch on your machine. This allows the stitching to stretch with the garment, preventing the thread from breaking when stretched. I learned that the hard way ;-).

I really like how this onesie turned out, and in my head I've already made a Darth Vader and Yoda version. Can't wait to try those out too!