Drachenfels Shawl

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Happy Wednesday! Today I am sharing my most recent finished knit!

Last Spring, Jacey and I decided to knit the Drachenfels Shawl by Melanie Berg together. Predictably I decided to knit mine in shades of purple, and Jacey in shades of green (see her shawl here). I finally finished my shawl this past month!

I love knitting garter stripes, and this was my first time knitting a triangular shawl that wasn't top-down. Garter is just so squishy, I don't think I'll ever get tired of it.

The dark purple yarn is Madelinetosh Tosh Sock in Flashdance, and it was my very first sock yarn purchase! I bought it here in Madison in March 2012. It felt so good to use it up! I also used my first skein of Moonrover Wyld in Foxglove (the light purple). The third color is a soft neutral Tanis Fiber Arts Blue Label in Sand. All three skeins had been in my stash for at least 2 years, so hooray for stash diving!

We got a fresh layer of snow earlier this month, which was the perfect opportunity to get a few photos. It's that time of year when everything is so brown and gray, not great for project photos!

I deviated a bit from the pattern in section 3, and I didn't always use the stated color. I'm happy with how it turned out, it's a massive 32" deep x 82" wide! I love big shawls.

More details on my shawl on Ravelry.

Now that this shawl is off the needles, I can start a new one!

Happy Knitting!

Birthday Sale!

Saturday, March 18, 2017

It's my 28th birthday next week, so I thought it would be fun to celebrate with a sale! Take 28% off everything in my online shop when you use the code BDAY28 at checkout. This includes PDFs and paper patterns. For EU customers, this code works in my Payhip shop too!

Sale will run for two days only, Saturday, March 18th and Sunday, March 19th. Coupon code will expire at midnight central time on the 19th! It cannot be applied to previous purchases.

Happy Shopping!

Plenty of (Scrappy) Pincushions

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Happy Thursday! Today I want to share two new pincushions I made recently.

My friend Amanda Jean embarked on a pincushion challenge this past Summer, making at least one each day for a month! She had so many fun designs, she compiled two patterns, each with five pincushion designs: Plenty of Pincushions Volume 1 + Plenty of Pincushions Volume 2. When I sat down to make a few from my scraps, I chose a pincushion from each volume.

I've loved and collected pincushions for many years. They're one of my favorite things to make and they're fun to receive as gifts too. There are just so many things to love about them. Pincushions are a great way to use up scraps, try a new block, or use up leftover blocks/units from other projects. Since they are small, they aren't usually a huge time commitment which is nice when you're in the mood for an instant gratification project. Plus, they're cute!

This is part of my pincushion collection. I probably have enough that aren't in this photo to fill another shelf (my Dad helped me make this one a few years ago). It's right above my machine, so I look at it a lot, and it makes me happy. Now, back to those two new pincushions!

Looking for pincushion tutorials? I have a few in the archives: Hexagon Ring Pincushion Tutorial, Triangular Log Cabin Pincushion Tutorial, and Half-Square Triangle Pincushion Tutorial.

From Plenty of Pincushions Volume 1, I decided to make the pineapple pincushion. I love pineapple blocks, and this tiny version is just too cute. Bonus, it's paper pieced! I started with the little frog center piece, and went with a purple theme (shocking, I know). This one is definitely my favorite of the two because these are my very favorite shades of purple, and consequently some favorite fabrics too.

From Plenty of Pincushions Volume 2, I decided to make the log cabin pincushion. I'm on a bit of a log cabin kick lately, and I had lots of strip scraps so it seemed like a good fit. This block is also paper pieced, which is nice and easy for working with those little pieces. These scraps came from my last two monochromatic quilts: All Blue Woven Quilt + Heart Crossed Quilt. There is also a little pop of citron green on the back.

Both pincushions have quilting on the front, and are filled with crushed walnuts shells.

Nani Iro Brushed Cotton Vast Quilt

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Happy Tuesday! I'm excited to share a finished quilt today. This one has been in use all winter, and I finally finished getting photos of it during a recent snowfall (yesterday!).

In the Fall of 2015, I picked up two Nani Iro by Naomi Ito bundles from Quilt Market. One was a bundle of double gauze prints, the other was a bundle of brushed cotton (flannel). I split both bundles with Jacey. I used most of the double gauze bundle for my Nani Iro Dreams Quilt, but a few made it into this quilt too. Shortly after finishing my double gauze quilt, I cut into the brushed cotton!

I used the same techniques for treating and sewing with brushed cotton as I do with double gauze.  For more info on sewing with double gauze, and where to buy Nani Iro, see this post.

I didn't want to cut up the beautiful prints too much, so I decided to make the Vast Quilt from my book, Patchwork Essentials: The Half-Square Triangle. Not only does it come together fast, it is great for showcasing favorite prints.

I was able to stitch up the quilt top at summer sewing retreat, and snatched a few photos of it. I love that I got one with the sheep in it!

Just like my all double gauze quilt, I wanted this quilt to be super cozy and snuggly. I used some of the darker double gauze prints in addition to the brushed cotton to stretch an extra row of triangles in (I like big quilts!). They mixed together really nicely.

I wasn't prepared to wrestle this quilt on my machine, so I sent it off to Melissa of Sew Shabby Quilting. I chose this fun popcorn quilting pattern for it.

To up the cozy factor, this quilt has brushed cotton on the back too. The batting is Quilter's Dream Wool, so it's nice and fluffy. It's bound up in a light gray voile.

I've been test driving it for the last few months, and it's been a great couch quilt. Warm, but not overly so. Ultimate snuggle quilt!

This was another just because quilt. I have been trying to use precious fabrics, instead of hoarding them. It has been a real indulgence, and I'm hoping to make it a habit. It gets easier with each cut!

Happy Quilting!

February 2017 Report

Thursday, March 9, 2017

March is here already! Time for another monthly report. See past reports here.

I felt a lot more productive sewing-wise this month. I finished up a quilt for a friend, and my indigo patchwork quilt came back from being quilted and was finished. I also started and finished several small projects, including a big pillow (top shown above) for my sewing room, some petal pouches (shown below), a lined drawstring bag and some pincushions. I also finally finished three softies that I cut out months ago.

I stitched up two large petal pouches (pattern by Anna Graham), this past month. The top one, made from an Umbrella Print was made for my friend Deedrie. I made the bottom one from a favorite Japanese print for myself. I think they turned out cute.

I've actually made a ton of progress on my Drachenfels shawl, but am not letting myself take any more photos of it until it's done! Hopefully this week or next. I still need to share my Baa-ble Mittens that I finished around New Years.

To keep myself accountable for my stash goals, I'm tracking my yardage for fabric and yarn each month. Read more about how I track my here. Here is how I did in February:

February Fabric
Used up: 19.25 yards
Brought in: 4.25 yards
Net: -15 yards
Year to date: -16.5 yards

February Yarn
Used up: 0 yards
Brought in: 420 yards
Net: 420 yards
Year to date: -47.5 yards

I did not buy any fabric until the very end of the month which was kind of fun. I snatched up the goodies above from Olive Juice Quilts here in Wisconsin. Always nice to shop for fabric in person. Not sure what I'll do with those strawberries yet, but they were too cute to leave behind. I bought a skein of Moonrover sock this month, because it was just too good. Otherwise, no knitting finishes.

One of the cute softies I finally finished last month. I used the Melly and Me Baby Bunnies Pattern. I'll share the other two soon. I was able to cross four projects off my works in progress (WIP)  list, which makes me really happy. As I discussed in last month's report, I was considering removing groups of leftover blocks and half-square triangle units from my WIP tally. I ended up doing that, and my WIP total is now 28. Much more respectable than 44, but still pretty big! My goal this month is to continue to finish up some of those lingering projects.

I was happy to release the Heart Crossed Throw Quilt Tutorial last month, and I hope you'll check it out if you missed it!

George bunny, working from the inside out!

Have a great month!

Janome 1600P Sewing Machine Review

Monday, February 27, 2017

Happy Monday! A couple years ago I bought a new sewing machine. Since then I have had a number of questions about how well I like it. So, I thought today I would finally post a proper review of the machine I bought, a Janome 1600P-QC.

I'm slightly embarrassed to say it's now been almost three years since I bought my machine and I'm only now getting around to posting this review! On the plus side, I've had a long time and a LOT of projects (including all the projects for my book) to figure out what I like about it. Before we dig in though, I'd just like to say that I'm not affiliated with Janome in any way and this post is a reflection of my personal opinions.

With that being said, I love this machine. If it broke down today, I'd buy another one. But let's back up a little. Prior to the 1600P, I had a Janome Horizon 7700. I'll be honest, the Horizon and I did not get along. It had a lot of good qualities, but had way too many bells and whistles for me. When I decided to look for a new machine, I knew I wanted to simplify. I had been using my vintage Singer Featherweight a ton, and wanted to find a machine that most closely resembled that, but bigger. Enter the Janome 1600P.

It's a nice heavy duty machine, with a primarily metal body. It is a straight-stitch only machine which is what my Featherweight is. This means it can only do one stitch, but that it can do that one stitch very well. I had learned this from working on the Featherweight. Since it only stitches straight the needle plate has one little hole in it for the needle, so it's much less likely to pull fabric down into it.

This machine is fast! That's one of my favorite thing about it. It's got three speed settings: turtle, sitting bunny, and running bunny. It can stitch at up to 1600 stitches per minute. As someone who sews a lot (and likes to sew fast), it has been wonderful using this machine. Especially when piecing, I can cruise right along.

Another one of my favorite features about this machine is the separate bobbin winding motor and thread path. I have a dedicated cone of thread set up for winding bobbins and one for the top thread. I don't have to un-thread my machine or even stop sewing when I need to wind a new bobbin.

I have a few favorite feet for the machine that I use the most. The 1/4" foot is what I use the most (which I'm very happy to say has a remove-able guide.). I also bought a narrow straight stitch foot. It's super tiny and is perfect for topstitching. Next up, the walking foot. It's sturdy, and does it's job. Finally, the adjustable zipper foot, which you can move to either side of the needle.

With my old machine I never took advantage of even some of the simplest features, but I've been taking full advantage of them on this machine. I use the automatic thread cutter for just about everything, and I love how it lifts up the needle when it's done cutting. This really comes in handy when paper piecing.

Side note: Since it is a semi-industrial machine, it is pretty loud. I sit mine one a folded up mini quilt to help dampen some of the noise for our neighbors. I also invested in a pair of wireless headphones, which I use when sewing. Just an FYI!

Since the 1600P sews at high speeds, it does use special needles, HLx5 needles. My favorite for piecing are 75/11s. For bag making or projects using thicker fabrics I like 90/14s. Finally for quilting (free motion & straight line), I like 100/16s. This machine also needs oiling every few hours. I use the same precision oil pen I use for my featherweight.

One thing I would like to mention about this machine is that it does take some getting used to. The tension is set manually and it also has a pre-tensioner. It can take a bit of fiddling to get the tension just right, but once you do, it sews great.

I wanted to share my settings for this machine for free-motion quilting. There isn’t anything about free-motion quilting in the manual and when I first tried it on this machine I had to do some trial and error to find what worked for me. Here is what I do:

- Put on the free-motion quilting foot, and free-motion quilting needle plate.
- Use a new size 100/16 HLx5 needle.
- Set stitch length to 0.
- Set presser foot pressure to 0.
- Lower the upper thread tension a bit.
- Slightly loosen bobbin tension.
- Adjust free-motion quilting foot height as desired.

You'll definitely want to play around with a practice quilt sandwich to get the right combination of tensions. Don't forget the pre-tensioner if you're having trouble with the top tension. I keep my pre-tensioner pretty loose, and adjust with the main tension knob.

The 1600P is the perfect machine for the type of sewing I do. I primarily use it for piecing, which is great for the high-speeds, but I love to make bags and other projects too. I try to use this machine and my serger as much as I can to make garments, but occasionally pull out my backup machine (a Janome Memory Craft 4800) for it's free arm and buttonhole capabilities.

Happy Quilting!

Over and Above Quilt

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Happy Thursday! Today I have a finished quilt to share, the Over and Above Quilt!

This past Fall and Summer, I went about finishing up the series of half-square triangle sampler quilt tops I made. I took the 60 blocks from the block chart section of my book, Patchwork Essentials: The Half-Square Triangle, and put them together into three sampler quilts. I shared a setting tutorial for each quilt, and now I have them all finished up! The first one I want to share is the Over and Above Quilt. Find the tutorials for all three settings here: Over and Above Quilt Setting Tutorial, Blockade Quilt Setting Tutorial, Interlaced Quilt Setting Tutorial.

For each quilt, I focused on one of the colors that I used in the blocks. This quilt was focused around this lovely color of purple. I used one of my very favorite prints by Erin McMorris from her Weekends line for the background. It's the perfect color and the little bikes are just too sweet. This particular quilt used 27 quilt blocks.

This quilt was quilted by local Madison quilter, Gael Boyd of Stitchlilly. We chose this airy feather pattern, and I think it fits the quilt really well.

I used another print from Weekends for the back, more purple of course! For the binding, I used a dark purple cirrus solid from Cloud 9. I didn't have quite enough, so I added a strip of yellow to one of the corners to finish it off.

Happy Quilting!


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