26 December 2014

Quilty Goals for 2015

Hope you had a great holiday season! As the end of the year is fast approaching, and I recently read a post by Quilting Jetgirl that outlined her quilting goals for 2015, I thought I'd jump on the bandwagon. I tend to be more accountable when I write down my goals, anyway.

1. Join a quilt guild. I feel as though I've made some bloggy friends, but I'd like to get to know some people who sew in real life!

2. Enter a quilt in a competition. I like sharing my work, and I feel like it would be fun to enter a competition for the experience. I've never really done juried work, and I'd like to learn more about it.

Broken Umbrella
Broken Umbrellas quilt. If it wasn't so small I would have tried entering it somewhere!

3. Make a quilt pattern. The majority of the quilts I make are inspired by older designs, but are all unique to me. I think it would be fun to make up a pattern for distribution (even if it's only on Craftsy), so that this hobby could start supporting itself.

4. Submit a pattern for a magazine. Like the previous goal, although this one would probably hit a wider audience.

5. Play around more. After all those serious goals, I thought I needed to lighten up! I love the creative process, but have recently been sucked into a few obligations, and/or don't have time to sew for myself. I want the chance to just look at a bundle of fabric and sew whatever it's telling me it should be sewn into!

Round Trip Quilts
Part of my RTQ center. 

6. Work on my photography. I love taking pictures and editing the quilty stuff I make almost as much as I like sewing. I think I'd like to improve that skill set though, because many times I just get an OK picture when I could have gotten a great one!

7. Segregate my work from the animals. That is a weird goal, but as my dog is digging through my quilt pile to create a nest I feel as though I should treat my work with a little more respect. I want them to be used and loved, but maybe not shredded. Plus, I always feel bad when I send a bee item or a gift and it's covered in cat hair - after I've lint rolled it for 10 minutes!

8. Sew every day. Right now I only sew a couple times a week, but in marathon sessions. I think if I broke it up more I would enjoy the process a bit more. My old clunker is so loud, sometimes I get a headache after a day of sewing.

Completed 'The Birds And the Butterflies' quilt top!
The last project that was for me.
It's been basted and waiting for months!

9. New machine! I hesitate to buy a new machine when my old one is decent, but I think I've finally progressed to the point where I can justify a new machine. It would help me with my piecing accuracy, and I'd be able to start learning to free motion quilt.

10. Learn how to serge. My mom gave me her old serger, now I need to sit down and take advantage of it. I'd have the best finished seams in town! Plus, my new obsession with sewing knits would become much easier. 

22 December 2014

Lapped and Lined Pillow - A Tutorial

I've discussed my affinity for lining pillows. It may seem silly (I mean who even looks inside after the pillow's in there?) but for me it's worth it. And I figured, maybe you'd be interested too, so here's a tutorial of how I did it. It's basically like a large boxy pouch, just without the boxed corners. I also like adding a lap to cover up the zipper. Makes for a nice, neat finished product.

Pillows! and Pillow Covers!
Check out that lining!
Pillows! and Pillow Covers!
Look at the lap on that pillow back! (right side)

So, you'll need a pillow cover, and some fabric for the backing pieces and the lining, as well as the lap. In addition you'll need a zipper. I'm including the measurements I used for my 18" finished pillow cover. 

 photo IMG_9075_zpsce1f279d.jpg
[1] 18.5" square pillow front. Mine is layered with batting and quilted. 
 photo IMG_9077_zps9571cc74.jpg
[1] 6.5"x18.5" rectangle, [1] 11.5"x18.5" rectangle.
Mine are layered with batting and quilted.
 photo IMG_9078_zps1b03c7ae.jpg
Lining. [1] 18.5" square, [1] 6.5"x18.5" rectangle, [1] 11.5"x18.5" rectangle.  

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Fabric for the lap. Mine are 2.5"x18.5"

So, first thing, fold the fabric for the lap in half lengthwise.

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Folded in half, lengthwise. 

Next, you want to layer the smaller backing piece (face up), your folded lap fabric (open side facing out), and your zipper (top down).

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Pillow, lap, zipper. 

Lay your smaller back lining fabric down next, right side down. Notice how the zipper ends about half an inch before the end of the pillow. You're going to want to mark a line on the lining fabric 1/2" from each end. These lines are marking your sewing starting and stopping points.

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all the layers together. Note the marked line. 

Sew along your zipper, making sure you don't cross beyond those lines. If you need to, zip or unzip the zipper so the slider doesn't get in the way.

 photo IMG_9089_zps8bb834aa.jpg
sewing to the line. 

Open up the zipper and press the fabric back. You just want to make sure you don't sew over the lap when sewing the other side. Now, repeat the process you just did on the other side, using the larger back piece and larger lining piece.

Next you're going to open up the respective sides and topstitch. Topstitch along the larger half of the pillow back first. Next, press the lap in the correct direction (over the zipper), and topstitch along that side. (no picture, whoops!)

Now that we've got the back panel completed with the zipper, you're going to cut it to the right length. Measure to make it 18.5" square, and you will need to trim a little off the larger back panel and lining.

Place the pillow top face down on the pillow back (so that they are right sides together). Do the same with the lining sides.

 photo IMG_9093_zpsfe9eaf61.jpg
Here's the front and back of the pillow, right sides together.
This is right before I trimmed it. 
 photo IMG_9099_zps93ca1861.jpg
And here's the front lining and back linings right sides together. 

Next we're going to sew around the pillow. I like to start with the quilted sides. I also like to pin while I sew around the perimeter to avoid shifting fabric. Make sure the zipper is open halfway. Also, make sure that the lap is folded in the correct direction (over the zipper) when you pin. You want to make sure you are only pinning the quilt top and back pieces, not the lining. Don't forget to make sure the zipper is open!

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Lap is covering the zipper. Only pinning the front and back. 

Start sewing around the perimeter of the pillow. When you get to either side of the zipper make sure to pull the lining fabric back so you only sew over the outer pillow and zipper ends.

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note my fingers holding back the lining fabrics so I
only sew over the zipper and pillow backs/tops.

When you finish the outside you're going to repeat the process with the lining. The only difference with the lining is you will want to leave a gap several inches long to turn the pillow cover through. If you haven't done it yet, make sure the zipper is open!!

You're going to want to make sure to avoid the outsides of the pillow at the zipper, like you avoided sewing over the lining before. With the lining pieces you'll note a gap between the fabrics, that's fine. Just be sure to pull the zipper and outer fabrics away so that you are only sewing over the lining fabrics.

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Same deal on this side at the zippers. 

Once you're done (remember to leave that gap!), clip the corners of the outside. If you want, clip the corners of the lining as well, although I tend to not do that.

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Clipped corners. 

Turn everything out through the gap in the lining and the opened zipper. To close the lining I just fold the edges in 1/4 inch and topstitch over them, about 1/8th of an inch from the edge.

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Edges turned in 1/4 inch and pinned. 
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Tuck the now closed lining into the pillow and you're done! You've got a lovely pillow cover with a hidden zipper!

Pillows! and Pillow Covers!
Look how nice and polished that is!
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Hope you enjoyed the tutorial. It might be a bit of extra work, but I like the end results. No stray threads anywhere!

Fabrics for pillow top: Mustang by Cotton + Steel, Botanics metalic modern floral, herringbone for Modern Home by Monaluna, Wood Grain by Joel Dewberry (true colors collection), and Bluebird Park bunnies. 
Fabric for the lining: Tulips by Joel Dewberry for the lining, 

17 December 2014

Hexie Heaven

I'm at AGU - that's the American Geophysical Union's annual conference - and I knew I'd need a project to keep me busy during down time. Solution: the travelling hexies.

English Paper Pieced Hexagons
Hexagons! and cat hair...

I got one panel completed a couple months ago, and now I've got enough for the second panel. Guess I should get to work on connecting them.

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The completed panel. 

I'm using Arizona fabric by April Rhodes. The hexies are 3/4 inch, so they're pretty tiny. I like seeing the geometric qualities of the print broken down in these smaller shapes.

The conference is in San Francisco, so I also got to do a little shopping!

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Britex Fabrics! A San Francisco institution!

Not many quilting cottons, but it sure is fun to browse all the fabrics and notions. They even had the cotton tape that I ran out of!

I'm curious: what kind of do you bring when you travel? Or do you just enjoy the trip?

Linking up for WiP Wednesday with Lee from Freshly Pieced

12 December 2014

Craft Fair - Part 2 {pillow covers}

Pillows! and Pillow Covers!
I'm going to pepper this post with photos of pillow covers I made for the fair!

I recently discussed part of my experience selling some of my goods at a craft fair. I mentioned that I fell rather short of my merchandise goals (meaning I didn't have much to actually sell). So why did I decide to attend anyway? Well, basically because it was free, and because I could see repurposing all the merchandise I was trying to sell as Christmas gifts. That way, I wasn't out any money for a booth/table, and I wouldn't have extra 'stuff' hanging around my house that I didn't want and I couldn't get rid of. Doing a brief google search it looks like participtating in fairs typically runs $30-$200. I probably wouldn't have participated even if had been on the low end of that spectrum.

Pillows! and Pillow Covers!
One Red Hook pillow that didn't sell. Lapped and lined!

In addition, we may consider my time spent at the fair. Typically I work at the restaurant of the women who hosted the fair, so I would have been working on Saturday anyway. The gamble was, would I make as much money at the fair as I would have in the resrtaurant. As it was raining, and there were two servers on, it worked in my favor. I ended up selling one pillow cover and 2 pot holders that day, adding up to a grand total of $170. That is probably more than I what I would have made on an equivalent day (when you factor in hourly wage + tips), so I came out ahead in the long run. And it was way more fun working at the fair. On Sunday I had to work at the restaurant and someone else watched my wares. I ended up selling 6 pot holders that day, so it was like double dipping! I got my restaurant money and my craft money! What a lucrative day. If only they could all be like that.

Pillows! and Pillow Covers!
Kokka Echino Decor Soaring in cotton sateen, playing with hourglasses and 16-patches. 

As for the pillow covers, they didn't sell as well. I didn't think they would, because they were rather pricey. I even called my mom and asked if she thought I was crazy for charging what I did. "No price is too crazy in Brooklyn," was the response I got. 

Pillows! and Pillow Covers!
Detail on one of my pillow cover backs. 

To determine prices, just as with my pot holders, I first calculated materials. These are 18" square pillows, with a lapped zipper closure, and they are fully lined. Do pillows really need to be lined? Probably not. But, I quilted all my panels, and since I'm notoriously messy (threads everywhere! Snarls! Oh my!) I only quilted the top and batting together, then lined the inside. It probably took as long as neatly quilting each part would have. Plus, lining everything eliminated exposed seams on the inside.

Pillows! and Pillow Covers!
Lining shot. I used extra yardage
I wouldn't otherwise have used. 

So, for materials. I used about 1/4 yard's worth of fabric for the back, 1/2 yard for the lining, and about 1/3 yard for the pillow tops (all those seams/paper piecing made for less efficient fabric usage, and made it harder to calculate). That alone is about $12 worth of materials. Batting would be about 1/2 yard, which is another $4. Zippers were $1.50 at Joann's. So, we're up to about $17.50 with materials cost. And I realize I could bring the cost down by withholding the lining, or using muslin, but I ran out of muslin, which is why I turned to my old stash. 

Pillows! and Pillow Covers!
The other hook that didn't sell. I ran out of the purple AMH, so added the cornerstones. 

As for my time, that's where it gets tricky. Since I don't really 'clock on' when I sew, it's hard to judge my time frame. I think my first pillow took about 7 hours to complete. I was figuring out how to do the lining, what proportions I liked for the backing and zipper lap. In addition I was cutting the pieces as I went. The hooks and the pineapple were by far the most labor intensive. The hourglasses were super quick, and pretty easy once I started using starch (that cotton sateen is slippery!) By the end, I got my time for making a hook pillow down to 4 hours. How did I decide to price everything? Well, for the hook pillow covers, and the pineapple, I went with $125. I charged $20/hr for 4 hours, plus materials, plus design fee/profit margin (which I unscientifically just threw on there). WHAT!?!?!? You can buy a whole quilt for that much money? I know, I know. But I went with it anyway. And, you know what? Someone bought one. Without haggling! I priced the hourglass pillow cover lower, at $100, because even though the fabric was more expensive (double the price), I actually used muslin to line it (cheaper), and by that point I was a pro at completing the pillow cover so it went much faster. 

Pillows! and Pillow Covers!
Pineapple pillow with Llama lamp backing.

All in all, it was a fun experience. It was a learning one as well. If I were to participate again I'd try to keep my maximum prices at $50. I'd also make some boxy pouches and some zipper pouches - because I think they're more 'gift friendly'. I liked the pillows, but they were too labor intensive for this type of activity. Next time I'm only making that kind of stuff on commission!

Pillows! and Pillow Covers!
Better luck next year!

Since I finished all the pillow covers, I'm linking up to Crazy Mom Quilts Finish it up Friday!

09 December 2014

Crafty Fair - Part 1 {pot holders and pricing}

I recently participated in a craft fair hosted by my restaurant bosses. I had high aspirations for how many items I would make, and in the end, real life got in the way. I caught a brutal cold, which really made me slow down. Somehow, though, I had the three days prior to the fair to sew sew sew. And sew I did. I couldn't tell if my headache was from the never ending cold, or from the clacking of my machine!

4 of the pot holders, fronts and backs. 

I ended up making 5 pillow covers (which I will blog about soon), and 10 pot holders. For the pot holders, I knew I wanted to make some cats. Partly because they were cute, and partly because I needed an excuse to buy some Cotton + Steel tiger stripe fabric, which I used for the backing.

Makers Market WiPs
All the kitties. Arranged in order of favorites (my favorite is on top). 

Look how nice the kitties play together. 

I decided to make some improv birds for the other pot holders. I ended up making 6 of them, although the only picture I took before the fair is at the top of this post. I am happy to say that only two of the ten pot holders didn't sell. The two with the Arizona background, which I loved, but I guess was too busy for other folks.

Bird Pot holders
One of the birds that didn't get away. 

One of the nice things was that the majority of people who bought my stuff were strangers! Sounds weird to say, but it was a very nice feeling to have people come up and purchase something I made solely because they liked it. My mom was telling me that she worked a few craft fairs back in her time of making knitted children's items and only sold one item to my aunt. I'm glad I beat her record!

Bird Pot holders
The other birdy. 

One thing I debated for a while was pricing. I've read so much about how crafter's undervalue their time/effort when selling their wares. Posts like 'no value does not equal free' by Molli Sparkles and 'What's it Worth' part 1 and part 2 by Hunter's Design Studio. I have no problem gifting my time and materials, but I sure as heck didn't want to sell myself short if people were going to pay me money.

I did a rough calculation, and for materials for each pot holder it cost an average of $5. Calculating labor was a little trickier. I tend to measure time in 'This American Life' episodes, and sometimes I don't put a new one on for a little while. To make the four cats took me about 2.5 hours, and the birds took me approximately  4.5 hours to make all 6 of them. This includes cutting, piecing, quilting and machine sewing the binding onto each pot holder. Then I came upon a dilemma. I like to hand sew the other side of my binding down. I thought about this for a bit. It really increased my labor, but in the end I chose to hand sew. I didn't end up including it in the labor calculation because I felt like selling myself short! In actuality, it's because I took way longer than usual because I was watching tv, and boy does 'How to Get Away with Murder' pull you in. My final prices?

I value my time at $20/hr. I know that may seem a bit high, but it's on par with what I make when I waitress, less than what I make when I teach, and my fellowship hours vary so much that I'm not sure what my hourly wage is there. I rounded up slightly in my pricing, deciding that extra bit would cover my 'design fee', and ended up charging $20 for the cat pot holders and $25 for the bird pot holders. And, like I said, all but 2 of them sold. No one even tried to haggle. I was nervous after comparing prices to what I saw on Etsy, but I stuck by my guns, and I'm glad for it. 

Next time I'll discuss my pillow cover pricing, and my motivation for participating in the Maker's Market in general.  

04 December 2014

Throwback to Thanksgiving Moneta

As I've become a more prolific sewer, I continue to try and sew garments. Sometimes, just like in stores, I find a garment that I love, but that just doesn't work with my body type (like my quasi-successful wiksten tank, and my failure wiksten tank). And then I find a patternmaker that probably custom made the dress for my body. Right? I previously made a Moneta Dress by Colette Patterns, and it turned out great. Following on that success, I decided to make another version for my Thanksgiving dress!

Hanging in my Kitchen pre-turkey. 

It was a super quick sew, compared to quilt making! I made it Tuesday morning in about 2 hours. I really wanted to break out my serger, but since I'm still not confident, I made it on my regular machine. Investing in that 'knit sewing on your domestic machine' class was a great idea. One issue I came across was a huge flaw in the fabric I used. I chose Anna Maria Horner's knit fabric 'Mary Thistle' in Saffron. 

That rough section? A HUGE FLAW!

Luckily I trace my pattern pieces before cutting them out, and as I was laying out all the pieces I noticed this huge rough section. It goes across the fold, so it's actually about double what you see here. And, since it goes across the fold, it's hard to avoid! I had just barely enough fabric after a bit of maneuvering to cut out all the pieces that needed to be along the fold. In general, I was kind of blah about the quality of the fabric. It seems kind of linty (would flake off) compared to the birch organic I used on my other dress. However, the other dress has faded significantly in the wash, so perhaps this one will hold up better. 

Here's a few action shots of the dress on the big day. 

Moneta in Action
Carving that turkey with precision. 

Moneta in Action
Me, my sister, and my cousin. Family!

It was super comfy, and I got several complements on both the fabric and the dress (which is always nice!). It even survived the scavenger hunt. This year, as an intermission during the eating of 10,000 calories, my father designed a scavenger hunt that sent us running all over the farm. It was a great way to make room for more pie. And it was fun because we had snow on Thanksgiving for the first time in about 15 years!

So, I hope you all had a lovely holiday last week as well. I'm crossing this off my Q4 finishes, which is a nice feeling. I've also got a bunch of projects and a tutorial on a lined and lapped pillow to share, so hopefully I'll get around to doing that soon. 

26 November 2014

Round Trip Quilts - Second Round!

This round was extra challenging - because the blocks I recieved hadn't been put together yet! I decided that my goal was going to be to combine at least some (if not all) of the blocks.Kim started the center, and she made some great blocks. And Heather added an amazing section.

These blocks are larger than they appear.
The smallest one is about 12.5" square. 

These blocks are smaller than they appear.
About 4" square. 

The dilemma I faced was the scale of the blocks. And, while they are intricate and beautifully worked, there wasn't a place for your eye to rest as it moved around. I decided I needed to make a focus point for this quilt, especially if I was going to combine the blocks. I ended up making a rocky mountain puzzle block, and adding then I split that herringbone block and used it as a sort of sashing.

Round Trip Quilts - Second Round
Here it is!

I think that it maintains the original feel, while allowing your eye to travel along and rest at certain spots. I love how all the 'x' blocks work both as a border and as a their own little block in the corner. I wasn't confident in my ability to incorporate the other blocks without more 'block surgery', so I decided to refrain and send them along to Jennifer. Good luck, and can't wait to see what you do with them! If you want to see the progress others have made, check in at my Round Trip Quilts tab.

20 November 2014

What happened to Thanksgiving?

My favorite holiday of the year is Thanksgiving. My family gets together from around the globe, we eat a lot, drink some drinks, do some kind of physical activity (everything from ultimate frisbee to volleyball to skeet shooting), eat pie, and then have breakfast for dinner. I'm kind of bummed out because I just saw a christmas commercial. And it's the week before Thanksgiving! Sigh. If it's not commercial, I guess we just don't care as much, especially considering any Thanksgiving chatter I do hear is for Black Friday deals.

Makers Market WiPs
Quilting on a pineapple pillow. 

My family stopped celebrating Christmas several years ago. Now we just go skiing (or at least to my parent's house in Vermont) and hang out - no presents at all! This year, however, I'm really banking on the commercial aspects of the holiday. My restaurant bosses have a warehouse space where they are hosting a holiday Makers Market, and I'm going to take a table. I'm selling out to raise funds for a new sewing machine. I'll be selling my wares along with other artisans from the neighborhood and beyond. It's exciting, but going to be a lot of work, especially considering the amount of other I've got at the end of the semester anyway.

Makers Market WiPs
Glasses cases. Pre-quilting. 

My goals are to make:
  • 5 pillow covers (1 quilted but not put together)
  • 6 glasses cases (2 created, just need the clasp added)
  • 12 potholders (4 pieced)
  • 4 large boxy pouches 
  • 4 small boxy pouches

Makers Market WiPs
Pineapple pillow cover. 

I made this pillow cover front in conjunction with a bee block, via the Crazy Mom Quilts no paper piecing method. All I need is some muslin to line the pillow and I can finish it off. I've got ideas for a bunch of pot holders, kitties, birdies, and MEOW. It's going to be meow-gical!

Makers Market WiPs
Four kitty pot holders. Already know what I want to piece for the others. 

So, although I feel like I'm cheating on my favorite holiday by starting Christmas preparations, it's been an interesting process. That is only going to get more hectic as the date gets closer. I am making things that will be easy to give away, so if nothing sells I'll gift it for the holiday. That will be extra special, since I haven't given out presents in years!