Adventures in Softie Making: Seymour the Whale

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

It's time to share my latest softie, Seymour the Whale! I've really enjoyed stretching my skills to make these, you can see my last two sets of softies here: Henrietta Hippo and Moo Moo + Baby Bunnies.

For my whale, I used the Seymour Spyhop pattern by Heather Bailey. Five years ago (whoa!) I made an elephant softie from one of her patterns, so I knew this whale would turn out cute. I thought this grey/blue print from Flower Shop would be cute for the main body. For the belly, I used an adorable tiny pindot that I picked up on a whim, but have used quite a bit!

Look how cute he turned out! This is a pretty small softie, much smaller than the hippos I made last.

I chose to make a pretty simple whale, but the pattern includes instructions/pattern pieces for making a whale, orca, or a narwhal!

The eyes are really different, rather than a button or embroidery, they're made from a piece of cut felt and a small black bead. I probably could have pulled them in a little tighter so they sunk more into the whale's face, but oh well!

I think the tail was the trickiest part of this softie, but it really wasn't too bad. Being sure to clip the seams properly after sewing makes a big difference.

I had fun making this little whale, and it was a good excuse to go down by the lake for some photos. Now I need to figure out what softie to make next!

Happy Sewing!

Handmade Gifts: Sewing Tool Organizers

Monday, September 11, 2017

Happy Monday! Today I'm sharing two sewing tool organizers I recently gifted. I used the #10 Caddy pattern by Sew Can She. These are my third and fourth caddies I've made with this pattern. See my first two here.

First up, a caddy for my Mom! I made this for her birthday. Jacey gave me some of this adorable sheep fabric by Lydia Nelson, and I knew my Mom would like it. I paired it with some Momo scissors fabric for the pockets, and some stashed blenders for the binding and the interior.

Puff sheep! So cute. I think this color combo fits my Mom's taste and craft room well. These caddies are fun to customize. I added a circle of felt to the bottom of each can, and covered the top sharp edge with duct tape for safety.

Next up, a caddy for Amanda Jean! I've had this Lecien 30's cheater print in my stash for ages, and I've never known what to do with it. This seemed like the perfect project to use it for. I paired it with a print from Curiosities for the pocket and stash blenders for the binding and interior.

I knew Amanda Jean would get use out of one of these caddies on her retreat and teaching travels. I'm always toting mine along when I travel to sew!

As I mentioned, I've made this pattern before, you can find my first two caddies here. I've been buying whole peeled tomatoes in the #10 can size (it's over 6 lbs!). We make this easy pasta sauce pretty often. I split the can into three equal portions and freeze them. It's so cheap to buy them this way! For Madison locals I buy mine at Woodman's.

Find the #10 Caddy pattern in Sew Can She's Shop, here.

Happy Sewing!

August Monthly Report

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Happy September! It's time for August's monthly report. See past reports here.

Stitched up a whole bunch of house blocks (I shared a quick tutorial for these here) last week. Now to lay them all out and sew up the top!

I can't seem to go very long without making a lined drawstring bag. This is the project size, which can be found in the pattern. It's my favorite size to hold knitting projects. This adorable house fabric from Alexander Henry was just asking to be a bag!

I made and gifted this basket to Michael's Mom last month. She is teaching first grade this year at a new school. I pulled out this old ruler print from Tailor Made by Cosmo Cricket, perfect for a classroom! It's been a while since I made one of these baskets, this is the Divided Basket Pattern by Anna Graham.

I picked up my Briochealicious shawl this past month. I hadn't touched it in a while. I love brioche knitting, but I definitely have to be in the right mood for it. I'm about halfway through the second brioche section and it's getting big! Now that Fall is just around the corner, I'm looking forward to more knitting.

Julie from The Intrepid Thread sent over some Tilda fabric for me to play with. This is the Harvest collection by Tone Finninger. I've already cut into this bundle, and stitched it up into log cabin blocks! Will share those soon. You can find this collection for sale here, and be sure to sign up for their Tilda First to Know List too!

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 August:

August Fabric
Used up: 14.25 yards
Brought in: 6.5 yards
Net: -7.75 yards
Year to date: -159 yards

August Yarn
Used up: 0 yards
Brought in: 0 yards
Net: 0 yards
Year to date: -3731.5 yards

I'm very happy with my fabric intake this month. I didn't use up a lot of fabric, but that's okay. Now that a move is in our near future, I've gotten a lot more serious about what is coming into our apartment in general. Hopefully I can keep that up.

I've continued to cut and sew plenty of garments. I finished two more Gemma tanks this month, both from rayon. I have a third cut out, plus a few other garments lined up. I cut out an Archer Popover a few months ago that I really want to dedicate time to soon. Plus I'm trying to draft a pattern from my favorite sweatshirt from the Loft. I traced out the pieces this weekend, so hopefully I can cut out a tester soon.

I didn't work on many works in progress this month, but I did sew a few blocks for my Liberty churn dash project. I'm making blocks from Quilting Happiness using my Liberty tana lawn stash.

School is back in Wisconsin today, so surprise! George back to school photos!! I found this tiny backpack at Target and immediately snatched it up. George bunny loves bananas, so it's perfect!

Have a great month!

House Quilt Block Tutorial

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Like most of the country, I spent the weekend glued to my phone watching the disaster unfold in southeast Texas. Thinking and worrying about my friends who live there along with everyone else affected by the hurricane. I've made donations to the Houston Food Bank and Austin Pets Alive. I encourage you to do and give what you can, every bit helps. I've also started a quilt for a friend to keep myself busy and channel all that worry.

If you're feeling moved to make something too, I'm sharing a quick tutorial (please excuse a few blurry photos) for the block. You'll also find materials/cutting for a throw size quilt after the block tutorial.

I made the above quilt for Love, Patchwork and Quilting a few years ago, and I'm making a simple twist on this design. This time rather than turning the blocks into flowers I'm going to arrange them in rows, like little houses in a neighborhood. Feel free to interpret the quilt however you'd like. I'll update with a photo of my quilt top when I finish it.

I'm making a quilt for one of my closest friends who lives in Houston, but will also be contributing blocks and/or finished quilts to the quilt drive effort. There is a quilt drive being organized through the hashtag #quiltsforharvey on Instagram by Diane Bohn (@fromblankpages), and Melinda (@mel_is_a_swapaholic) is accepting quilt blocks, tops, and supplies. The Linus Connection (@thelinusconnection) in Austin is also organizing a handmade blanket drive. Check their pages for information.

(If you'd like to make larger blocks, and less of them, I'd suggest using 10" print squares along with 5.25" background squares.)

House Quilt Block Tutorial:

Finished block size: 7”

For one House Block you'll need:
- (1) 7.5" print square
- (2) 4.5" background squares

*Use a 1/4" seam allowance unless otherwise noted.*

1. Using a water-soluble marker or a pencil, mark a diagonal line across the wrong side of two 4” background squares.

Place one square in the upper left-hand corner of a 7.5” print square, with right sides together.

Stitch across the corner on the marked line.

Trim off the corner, leaving a 1/4” seam. Press corner up.

2. Place remaining 4” background square in the upper right-hand corner of the block, with right sides together.

Stitch across the corner on the marked line.

Trim off the corner, leaving a 1/4” seam. Press corner up.

3. Square up block to 7.5” if necessary.

Below are the materials and cutting for a throw size quilt:

Finished quilt size: 56”x70”

- 20 fat quarters (or 1/4 yard cuts)
- 2 yards of background fabric
- 3 5/8 yards of backing fabric
- 64”x78” piece of batting
- 1/2 yard of binding fabric

From each fat quarter:
- Cut (4) 7.5” squares, for a total of 80.

From background fabric:
- Cut (16) 4”xWOF strips
- Subcut each strip into (10) 4” squares, for a total of 160.

Follow the block instructions to make 80 blocks.

1. Arrange blocks into 10 rows of 8 blocks each. Sew blocks together in each row. Press seams in one direction, alternating direction every other row. Sew rows together to complete quilt top. Press seams open.

2. Cut backing yardage in half. Press. Trim off the selvedge and sew your pieces together lengthwise. Press seam open.cBaste, quilt, and bind.

Patchwork Essentials: Minny Muu Prism Quilt

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Happy Tuesday! I have a recent quilt finish to share today. I finished this quilt in the Spring, and brought it home with me to Ohio in June to photograph. I love using my parent's white barn to hang my quilts, it's perfect. Nearly every time I go home I have a stack of quilts with me, waiting for photos.

For a few years now I've been collecting Minny Muu fabrics by Koko Seki for Lecien. There are new installments added to this collection once or twice a year. The prints are all teeny-tiny and seriously cute. I managed to snatch up fat-eighth bundles of Minny Muu Spring 2014, Spring 2015, and Fall 2015. I finally felt I should actually cut into them before buying any more!

I wanted to use up as much of the fat eighths as possible. I started planning and cutting out this project in the months after the release of my book, Patchwork Essentials: The Half-Square Triangle. I decided to re-make the Prism quilt using these fabrics.

Here is the original Prism quilt that I made that appears in my book! I used lots of jewel toned prints for this version. It was fun to mix it up for my new version with completely different colors.

I had more fabric than the original design called for, so I added three extra rows and two extra columns to use up every bit of my bundles. It seemed like the perfect idea at the time, but whoa! It made a really big quilt.

There was no way I could quilt something this big, so off it went to Melissa Kelley of Sew Shabby Quilting. I chose this sweet floral design, I felt like it fit the prints really well.

I originally planned to back this quilt in black and white gingham. Unfortunately I made a math error when ordering the backing and I was short by about 1/4 yard. I was super bummed, but didn't think the gingham would look good with a strip of something else pieced into it. So I set that backing aside for another day and picked up this Widescreen backing. This is the third color of this print I've used for backing and I love it. So easy to use and I like how low-key it is.

I had a really hard time choosing the binding. Since the front is pretty busy and print heavy, I knew I didn't want anything too flashy. Following the backing incident, I actually bought a print for the binding and ended up not liking it. Into the stash it went, and out came a long-loved cut of Heath in black by Alexander Henry.

This was one of those quilts that seemed to take forever to finish because I kept setting it aside to work on other things. I figured out the details of what I wanted to do, then let it sit for six months. Then I cut it out and let it sit. And so on. It felt so good when I finally pulled it out of the dryer. Now I can really enjoy all those adorable prints!

Happy Quilting!

My Custom Woven Labels

Monday, August 14, 2017

Happy Monday! Today I want to share my experience having custom labels made to use in my sewing projects. A few months ago I was contacted by Dutch Label Shop about trying out their labels. It was pretty serendipitous because I had just started thinking seriously about having some labels made.

Before we dive in: I was provided a credit from Dutch Label Shop to order my custom labels, so I paid very little out of pocket for my labels. That said, I was under no obligation to write this post, and would not have if I wasn't happy with my labels. Just wanted to be up front about that!

I've always been bad about properly labeling my projects, and I've started to feel more uneasy about it the more I make. In a perfect world, I'd make beautiful handmade labels with all the details for all my quilts, but I'm afraid we're past that point. I still don't know what to do about quilts I've already made, but I think I have found something that I'll actually do going forward. Enter custom woven labels.

Custom labels have been in the back of my mind for a long time, but I never really made it a priority to look into what it costs or where to order them from. Working with Dutch Label Shop was straightforward, and I was able to get a label that was exactly what I wanted. There are tons of different options for folded labels, flat labels, pretty much whatever you can think of. I knew I wanted something that I could use for quilts and other projects, so a sideways label with a fold was perfect for me.

At first it sounded too small, but I am so glad I sized my labels down during my design process. When sewn into a project my labels are 3/4" square. Tiny but mighty! I didn't want them to be huge, and I like that they aren't too obtrusive for bags and pillows too. I chose not to put anything on the back of the label, just my name/logo on the front. I added 1/4" of taffeta to each end which is the edge that's sewn into the seam allowance.

When I'm ready to stitch a label into a project, I find my spot and then baste it in place. Often times I'll pin the label flat to the project so that the finished side doesn't accidentally get caught in the seam. In hindsight, since I do make a lot of bags (which usually have a larger seam allowance), I probably should had done 1/2" or 3/8" of taffeta for the seam allowance. Since I'm basting them in place anyways, it's easy to mark out my 1/2" stitching line and place them accordingly.

I've been using my labels in most of my finished projects for the last two months, and I'm really happy with how they turned out. I went with my gut and kept them simple, just black and white, so they go with everything. My labels are the woven logo labels, which allowed me to upload my logo file and fully customize my labels. I put in all the information using their tool and then explained exactly what I had in mind in the comments box just to reiterate my choices. I got a photo proof, and they nailed it!

They also have a basic woven label tool that allows you to design your labels right on their website. You can add text and they have lots of cute sewing themed icons you can add too. Or use one of their pre-made templates. It doesn't have to be complicated!

Overall, I'm really pleased with how they turned out. I just finished a gift this weekend that has one sewn in, I'm so excited to give it! I feel like it not only adds a professional touch, but it's a little lasting note that says "Jeni made this!"

 Happy Making!


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