September Monthly Report

Monday, October 1, 2018

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

Above: Wonderland Log Cabin Quilt

I started a few new projects this month, and crossed some off my list too. I think overall it was a good balance of finishing and starting. One of the projects I have been meaning to start for months, is another monochromatic quilt. I'm making the Subtle quilt from my friend Amanda-Jean's book, No Scrap Left Behind. It's going to be my first leaders and enders project. I've always wanted to try making a quilt in this way.

Speaking of trying new things, I'm really diving into a new technique with my double gauze plus quilt. I'm hand quilting it! I never thought I had the patience for something like this, but so far so good. I've just started, so we'll see how I end up liking it in the long run. For now, it's fun!

I also finally indulged in making Christmas decorations. Now that we are in a house, I can have a full sized tree and I have a place to hang stockings! My first project is a tree skirt. I've been wanting to make my friend Christina's tree skirt pattern since she first made hers years ago. I actually have the top completed, but here is a photo of the tree blocks. I am loving how this project is turning out!

Why not sew for multiple holidays at the same time? I cut into some Halloween fabric (Boo by Cotton & Steel) for a new project bag. This is the project size from the lined drawstring bag pattern.

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 September:

September Fabric
Used up: 21.5 yards
Brought in: 4 yards
Net: -17.5 yards
Year to date: -14 yards

September Yarn
Used up: 0 yards
Brought in: 0 yards
Net: 0 yards
Year to date: +218 yards

I'm in the negative! FINALLY! This year has been tricky for me and my stash. I'm very happy to be down in fabric yardage for the year, thanks to a bunch of finishes this month. Plus, I only brought in four yards this month! Not going to lie, I was tempted to by fabric quite a few times this month, but stayed strong. Hoping to continue that trend through the end of the year.

Fresh off my wonderland quilt finish, I pulled out another super old work in progress, my Tula Pink kaleidoscope quilt. I've been making slow but steady progress over the last few months. Now I'm finally constructing blocks!

Early in the month, the high heat finally dissipated and we started back in on our yard. Our backyard especially had pretty much gone back to nature, so it's been a huge undertaking trying to get it back in shape. One of the projects we tackled was creating a little patio and pathway with all the stone pavers we had wrangled from all across the back and front yard. It was satisfying to work on a project that had instant gratification. Now it's time to tackle the grass!

George bun! He often likes to scrunch himself up into only half of his bed. Doesn't look super comfy, but that's his style.

Have a Great Month!

Wonderland Log Cabin Quilt

Monday, September 24, 2018

Happy Monday! I'm excited to share a finished quilt with you today. This quilt has been seven years in the making!

I started this quilt when we first moved to Wisconsin in August 2011, making it one of my oldest works in progress for many years. It features the collection Wonderland by Momo, which even at the time had been long out of print. Thankfully, I still love the fabric just as much as I did then!

The plan for this quilt was based around the limited fabric I had to work with. I had managed to find a charm pack and a honeybun of this collection, plus some yardage and fat quarters of a few prints, mostly the scissors. I cut out the entire quilt before starting it, only making one complete block.

It was one of those projects that I just couldn't really get going. I'd pull it out every couple years, but never made much progress. Finally, in January I decided it was time to really work on it. I had thinned out my works in progress before the move, and the list felt a bit more manageable. I knew it would feel really good to get this one done.

I had to spend some time ironing all the strips and partial blocks before I could get started again, but once I started sewing, I was determined.

The quilting was done by Melissa of Sew Shabby Quilting. I chose the Malachite pattern, which I wasn't super sure about, but ended up loving. It looks like a topographical map to me, and I think it's a great match for this quilt!

I wasn't sure what I was going to use for backing, until a friend swooped in and saved the day. She had seen my progress and offered to share her remaining Wonderland stash with me. It ended up being the perfect amount to piece together a back.

The binding came together right at the last minute. I got lucky and found someone destashing a half yard of this print on instagram, yay! I've been really bad about using my labels lately, but I remembered to pull them out for this quilt.

Read more about them here: My Custom Woven Labels

This quilt was in progress for such a long time, I honestly wasn't sure when I'd ever finish it. I'm thankful that I never stopped loving the fabrics, and that I was able to keep all the pieces and my notes together all this time. It felt really satisfying to cross such an old project off the list. It's motivated me to tackle another old project, hopefully I can get to finished this year too!

Happy Quilting!

August Monthly Report

Friday, September 7, 2018

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

This is going to be a pretty short update! I'm taking a much needed social media/blogging break for the next week and a half, but wanted to get this report up before the month gets away from me.

It was a busy month over here, starting with our annual cabin weekend in Wisconsin! It was my first time back in WI since we moved, and it was really nice. I love getting together with my retreat friends, we always have a good time together. This year I made little thread catcher bins with indigo that I dyed at camp a previous year! I used this tutorial to make them.

I set myself up for success at camp and came with the squares all cut and ready for my double gauze plus quilt! It felt so good to whip up a quilt top in a few days. This is the biggest square size in the arithmetic pattern. I'm so excited to continue working on this project. Thanks to my friend Brianne for posing with me :)

Always making drawstring bags! This time it was a tiny one, which I don't make enough of. It was fun to use a print from Anna's Forage collection! The tiny size is in the pattern version.

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: 30.5 yards
Brought in: 13 yards
Net: -17.5 yards
Year to date: +3.5 yards

August Yarn
Used up: 0 yards
Brought in: 0 yards
Net: 0 yards
Year to date: +218 yards

Ahhh! I'm so close to being in the negative in fabric! I was able to finish a few projects this month, but I also took a big stack of fabric to our annual summer retreat. Not as much as I usually do since I had to fly, but still a good amount. And I only brought back 2.25 yards! I was pretty proud of myself for that, since there are always lots of goodies on the fabric table. Other yardage in this month was a backing for my pineapple quilt.

My Mom came to visit in August and we got into all kinds of stuff, including a little thrifting. Super pleased with this haul! The jello molds are going to become pincushions.

We also planted a few things while she was here. A few hours after we planted this butterfly bush, a monarch was checking it out! Looks like it works!

George turned 9 in August! I don't know how that's possible, since he's clearly still a baby bunny. Here he is wearing a basil hat!

Have a great month!

Using Tucks to Add Structure to Your Bag

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Happy Thursday! Today I'm sharing a video of the tucking technique used to add extra structure to your tote bag and a more boxy shape!

This was originally posted as part of the Workshop Tote Sew Along. Want to make a tote too?
Find all the posts here: Workshop Tote Sew Along
Pick up a copy of the pattern here: Workshop Tote Pattern
Share your progress here: #workshoptote on Instagram

This technique is also used in the Sew Portable Travel Set Tote.

Half-Square Triangle Workshop Tote made using Mariner's Cloth and Kaleidoscope by Alison Glass.

This is the last step in the Workshop Tote Pattern, and it's totally optional. You'll still have a lovely bag without this step!

Happy Sewing!

8 Top Stitching Tips + Tricks

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Happy Tuesday! Today I'm going to share my tips and tricks for achieving beautiful looking top stitching.

This was originally posted as part of the Workshop Tote Sew Along. Want to make a tote too?
Find all the posts here: Workshop Tote Sew Along
Pick up a copy of the pattern here: Workshop Tote Pattern
Share your progress here: #workshoptote on Instagram

Half-Square Triangle Workshop Tote made using Terrestrial and Bird's Eye View collections by Sarah Watson.

1. Press Well

As always, good preparation goes a long way. Taking the time to press your piece before top stitching will ensure that everything lays nice and flat. This sets you up for nice looking stitching.

2. Use a Sharp New Needle

If it's been a while since you changed your machine's needle, now's the time! I typically use 90/14 size needles for bag projects.

3. Up the Stitch Length

I typically set my stitch length to 3.0 when I top stitch.

4. Use a Light Colored Thread

I get the neatest looking top stitching when I use a light colored thread on both dark and light colored fabrics. The hole where the needle goes through the fabric gives the stitching extra definition, resulting in neater top stitching.

5. Slow Down

Take your time! It can be easy to get into a groove and veer off course. 

6. Hide Back Stitching

If possible, I like to find a spot in the fabric to hide my back stitching. On this tote I was able to hide it in this wide flower that was near one of the sides. If I can't find a good spot, I'll skip back stitching, pull the threads through to the lining and knot the ends.

7. Use Your Presser Foot as a Guide

I recommend using the side of your presser foot to line up your top stitching if you can. I love using this little narrow stitching foot when I top stitch. If you can move your needle, move it to the right so that you can use that side of your foot to line up your piece and get a nice 1/8" seam.

8. Tuck as You Go

It can be hard to get your lining to stay tucked in as you top stitch around the top of your bag. I like to press it in place as best as I can, but I also tuck it as I stitch. I pinch the top edge, pushing the lining further inside the bag as I stitch to get a nice top edge.

Happy Sewing!

Dyeing Webbing for Custom Bag Handles

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Happy Thursday! Today I'm going to share instructions for how to dye webbing to make custom handles for your totes! I love using webbing in my tote bags for a few reasons. It's sturdy, it's fast, and it's easy to customize with dye! I'm going to show you how dye with RIT dye, which is readily available at craft stores, big box stores like Target or Walmart and even some grocery stores. It doesn't take a lot of supplies, and doesn't take long either. So if you've never dyed anything before, this is a really great beginner dye project!

This was originally posted as part of the Workshop Tote Sew Along. Want to make a tote too?
Find all the posts here: Workshop Tote Sew Along
Pick up a copy of the pattern here: Workshop Tote Pattern
Share your progress here: #workshoptote on Instagram

Plain Workshop Tote made using Outback Wife by Gertrude Made.

1. Gather Supplies

First up, the webbing! You'll get the best results if you use 100% cotton webbing. I usually buy mine from JoAnn Fabrics (it's in the notions area), but your local quilt shop may carry it, and you can always find it on Etsy.

RIT dye can be used a few different ways, but my preferred method is on the stove. I find that I get more intense, even colors. I also like the liquid RIT Dye versus the powdered, because it's much less messy. Plus it's easier to save and store the leftover liquid dye (which you'll have plenty of!). I also recommend picking up a bottle of RIT ColorStay Dye Fixative.

It is important to use a pot and tools that are only for dyeing. I picked up this little pot at the thrift store for a few bucks, and my measuring spoons from the dollar store. In this tutorial I used a small electric burner (from Walmart), but you can of course use your stove!

You'll also need some plastic gloves, dish soap (I love original blue Dawn for dyeing), table salt, a plastic container or small bucket and a spoon to stir with. And don't forget to protect your workspace! Plastic drop cloth or butcher paper works great.

2. Prep Your Webbing

Before dyeing, it's important to wash your webbing. This will remove any dirt or chemicals that might interfere with the dye. I like to do this in a small bowl or sink. Warm water and a little dawn dish soap goes the trick. Rinse well and squeeze out excess water. No need to let it dry, now we can move right into dyeing!

3. Prepare Dye Bath

The liquid RIT dye amount you'll need is based on weight. One bottle (8oz) will dye up to two pounds of fabric. 1 1/4 yards of webbing weighs just under 1 oz. I've broken down how much dye you need per 1 oz below:

For 1 oz of fabric or webbing:
- 1/2 Tablespoon of liquid dye*
- 1 Tablespoon of salt

*I usually double this and use 1 Tablespoon as per RIT dye recommendations, to achieve a more intense color.

Fill pot with enough water for webbing to move freely and be completely covered. Heat until just below boiling. Add dye, salt, and a drop of dish detergent to pot. Stir to incorporate.

4. Dye

Wet your webbing in clean water, squeeze out excess water. Carefully add webbing to dye pot, keeping the dye bath at a low simmer. Stir continuously for the first 10 minutes. This helps achieve an even color. You can keep your webbing in the dye bath for up to an hour, stirring regularly. Darker colors may require longer dye times. I pulled my webbing out after 15-20 minutes. Don't forget, the webbing will dry lighter.

5. Set Dye

This step is optional, but since this webbing will become handles that will touch your clothes, I don't recommend skipping it. Fill a small bucket or plastic container with 2 quarts of hot water. Add 2 teaspoons of RIT ColorStay Dye Fixative, mix well. Add webbing straight from the dye bath, without rinsing. Let webbing soak for 20 minutes or more, stirring occasionally.

6. Rinse + Wash

Remove webbing from fixative and rinse under running water until water runs clear. Start with warm water and then cool water. Hand wash with a little dish soap. Rinse well and air dry.

A note on dyeing: There are a lot of factors that play into the final color of your dyeing. As you can see above, my webbing is not an exact match to the dye bottle. It's actually closer than it looks (I had a hard time getting a good photo of this color!), but dyeing is often a magical mystery. My webbing started as a natural color rather than plain white, so that can change the final color. Just something to keep in mind when choosing your dye!

Happy Dyeing!


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