What I'm Working On

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Happy Wednesday! I had planned to share a finished quilt today, but the photos I took of it over Christmas didn't turn out as planned. Always a bummer when that happens. Instead, I thought I'd share a few projects I'm working on right now. I actually haven't finished anything yet this month, so I need to get moving to keep my stash spreadsheet in the negative!

One of my goals for this year is to build up a stash of baby quilts to have ready for gifting. I've started working on two, both made using orphaned blocks from my book. Two birds with one stone! For the first one, I simply added borders and cornerstones in coordinating colors. I am not totally sure how I want to quilt this one. I have a backing picked out that needs pieced, but then I can get moving towards finishing it.

For the second baby quilt, I decided to experiment with a pieced border. Instead of using something solid, I extended the half-square triangle pattern with units made from the same fabric. I wanted to give it some texture, and this will also make it easier for me to quilt. It's subtle, but I like how it turned out.

In 2014, I finished a quilt top using some of my indigo dyed Essex linen. That same year I dyed up some pieces for the backing. It's been sitting in the closet since then. So I pulled it all out, pieced together a backing and got this quilt in the mail to be quilted. It's all Essex linen, so it's going to be a nice heavy picnic quilt.

Last week I pulled fabrics for my next monochrome quilt, this time it's all pinks! I got it all cut out this weekend, and I'm hoping to get it finished by the end of the month. I will be sharing a tutorial for it next month.

On the knitting front, I'm working on my first pair of socks. I used to say I'd never knit socks. Well, now I'm eating my words. These are a pair of worsted weight socks, so they're going really fast. They've been fun so far. Pattern is Rye by Tin Can Knits.

I still haven't quite gotten into a groove this year with my crafting. Hoping to get back on track soon!

Happy Sewing!

Handmade Christmas Gifts

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Happy Thursday! Last year for Christmas I decided to give some knitted gifts. I had the idea in May to knit my immediate family hats for Christmas. Did I start them in May? Nope, I started knitting in October. I ended up knitting four hats!

To gift all of the hats, I decided to make Lined Drawstring Bags. It was fun to pick out fabrics that fit the person, and some of them sort of matched the the hat. The everything (tutorial) size fit them perfectly. I enjoyed knitting these hats, and I look forward to more gift knitting!

For my Mom's hat I was extra sneaky. When she came to visit last Summer we looked through my yarn stash and I paid close attention to what she liked. She particularly liked a skein of Tanis Fiber Arts Green Label in Chris Grey. So for her, I knit an Earl Grey hat by Clare Devine. It was my first time knitting cables, which was really fun! I ditched the cable needle after about two rows and much prefer knitting without one. This video was really helpful.

For my Brother's hat, I wanted something that had good texture, but wasn't too ornate. I ended up knitting the Kennecott hat by Caitlin Hunter using some Madelinetosh Tosh DK in Dr. Zhivago's Sky. It was an interesting knit. It had twisted stitches and a nice squishy texture.

For my Dad's hat, I wanted to stick with something pretty utilitarian. I knit the simple Bankhead hat by Susie Gourlay. It has a nice twisted rib brim, which I love the look of. I knew if it was a little big it could easily be cuffed too. It's hard to knit a hat for someone without knowing their head size!

Finally I knit a hat for Michael's Mom. I actually completed a Roobios hat by Clare Devine for her, but ripped it out because it was way too big. I ended up settling on the Kakano hat by Francoise Danoy. I used Madelinetosh Tosh Vintage in Begonia Leaf for her hat. It's hard to capture the color in photos, it's a pretty dusty purple.

Happy Making!

Triangular Zipper Pouches

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Happy Tuesday! I enjoy making handmade gifts, so the last few months a did a lot of secret making. Between a few December birthdays and Christmas, there were plenty of things to make. One of the things I made was a set of fun zipper pouches!

I found the Triangle Pouch Sewing Tutorial by A Spoonful of Sugar on Pinterest a while back and I decided it was finally time to make one. The tutorial size calls for a 4" zipper. I ordered a few from Zipit and got to work. I originally made two, one for Jacey and one for Deedrie as a part of a Christmas swap. Deedrie's pouch is above. I used a print from Bird's Eye View by Sarah Watson for the outside.

A few weeks after making the pouches, I got the idea to turn Jacey's into a set for her birthday. I sized up the measurements in the original tutorial proportionally for a 7" zipper and a 10" zipper. They look so cute all together, and they nestle perfectly! I skipped the patchwork on all of mine and used fusible fleece.

I decided to use multicolored prints with a white background for Jacey's set. Similar choice to the set of nesting fabric bowls I made a few years ago.

The smallest one in the set is the original tutorial size. It used a 4" zipper. The exterior print is Retro Fruit by Kei.

The medium pouch used a 7" zipper. I used a print from Bird's Eye View for this one.

The largest pouch used a 10" zipper, and a used a print from Luxe in Bloom by Sarah Watson for the exterior.

I'm not sure what they'll be practical to store, but they were just too cute. I had a lot of fun making them and I am so pleased with how they turned out! It was fun to make something different.

Happy Sewing!

2017 Crafty Goals

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Happy Wednesday! I'm excited to share my goals for 2017 today.

2017 shall be another year of making do and working from my stash. I really enjoyed the challenge I set myself last year: Use up more fabric than I bring in. It was hard in the beginning of the year, but got easier as the year went on. It became a game, how to use up yardage. It helped me complete a lot more projects, and was fun too! I was also more intentional about what yardage I did bring in. I kept myself accountable by tracking everything, read more about my tracking methods here.

I want to continue to sew with special fabrics that I've hoarded over the years. I made two quilts with my Nani Iro fabric stash last year, and I am so glad I can enjoy these fabrics everyday! I also started a long-term quilt project with my Liberty Tana Lawn stash, which I want to keep working on.

This year is potentially going to be a big one for us. Michael is working towards finishing his Phd, including getting a paper ready for publication, preparing for his defense, applying for post-doctoral positions and then moving on to a new city. We're already feeling the weight of it, so I'm aiming for another low-stress year. On the business side, I'd like to release a few patterns, but otherwise I'm keeping my commitments to a minimum. Here's to another year of happy sewing!

Without further ado, here are my crafty goals for 2017:

- Sew/knit with more yardage than I buy. I'll be continuing to track my yardage each month again to help stay on target.

- Make sewing/knitting a daily habit. In January, I'm planning to knit for at least 15 minutes per day. I am hoping to do the same with sewing in February.

- Track my works in progress (WIPs), and end the year with fewer than I started with. I currently have 44 sewing/quilting, 5 knitting and 1 weaving.

- Make two Liberty churn dash blocks per month or a total of 24 this year.

- Build up a small stash of baby quilts, ready for gifting. Aiming for 4-5.

- Work on projects made exclusively from scraps.

- Make a quilt from my vintage sheet stash, I'm thinking a pineapple logcabin quilt!

- Finish my double wedding ring quilt. 56 wedges to go.

- Finish my indigo hand-dyed quilt. The top is already pieced.

- Finish up lingering quilt tops. Currently 6 tops waiting to be quilted.

- Continue to sew garments that I'll actually wear. Specific patterns I'd like to try for the first time this year: Beatrix Top, Derby Dress, Kelly Anorak, knit t-shirt (either Lark, Union St. tee, Plantain, or Hemlock), and the Hudson Pants.

- Knit 1600 yards of sock or sport weight yarns.

- Knit 1000 yards of DK or worsted weight yarns.

- Finish my Drachenfels shawl.

- Finish my Sunset weaving project.

- Knit a brioche project: Briochealicious or Sizzle Pop. Or both!

- Knit another sweater or destash my sweater quantities of yarn.  (Bit of an ultimatum for myself!)

I'm looking forward to getting on with my list. I am still trying to catch up from having a cold last week, so I feel a bit behind already. I need to get sewing! I'll continue to do monthly reports this year to document my goal progress. See last year's monthly reports here. See last year's goals here.

How I Track My Fabric and Yarn Yardage

Monday, January 9, 2017

Happy Monday! The last few years I've set myself the goal of using up more fabric than I buy. In order to measure my progress on this goal I keep track of all the fabric that I buy or am given. I also keep track of all the fabric I use up, give away or sell. This is a great way for me to keep an eye on my purchasing, but it's also a great way to remember everything I've made.

I've gotten a lot of questions about how I track and estimate my yardage, so I wanted to put that information in a post for those that are interested. It's not for everyone, and it is a time commitment, but I really enjoy doing it. There are a lot of different ways you could track yardage you use, but I'm going to focus on how I personally do it in this post.

Update: After doing this for years, I've learned so much about myself and my habits. See this blog post for more: What I've Learned Tracking My Fabric Yardage

Keep in mind, I love math. The methods I use are probably more in depth than most people would need or want to do. So I'm sharing easy methods and then my more complicated methods too. There is no right or wrong way to track yardage. In my opinion the most beneficial thing about tracking is simply the act of tracking and the awareness that it gives you, not the actual numbers.

I love to use an excel spreadsheet to tracking my yardage. I am sharing my spreadsheet in this post here: New and Improved Stash Tracking Worksheet (with Formulas!)

**Megan Wenger (@lifeofmegananne) has put together an even further expanded stash tracking worksheet and has graciously decided to share it with you all! It has added columns for destash and product sales and she added some of the yardage calculators on a seperate sheet. You can download it here: 2024 Net Fabric Zero Challenge Tracker

Not comfortable using spreadsheets? A simple notepad and pen work great too! Or keep a running list in a Word or Notes document.

Important Note: I didn't add up everything in my stash to start with, nor do I want to! I just keep track of the what comes in and what goes out of my stash. So each year I start at 0, and by the end of the year I can see how much yardage went out, came in, and the net result.

Tracking Fabric Coming In

This is the easiest part to track. When you purchase fabric, you usually know how much you've bought. I also track fabric that I'm given, both promotional fabrics or gifts from friends.

If you're purchasing scraps or a destash with partial yardage sometimes it's not quite as clear how much yardage there is. Sometimes I'll lay out the fabric on my cutting mat and just make an educated guess.

Another way to measure yardage is by weight. This isn't completely foolproof because different types of fabric and even quilting cotton made by different manufacturers weighs differently per yard. However, it gives you a good place to start, and we're not aiming for 100% accuracy.

You'll need a small food or postal scale (one like this* works great), and a yard of quilting cotton to start. Weigh the yard and make a note either in ounces or grams of how much it weighs. I weighed yard cuts from multiple manufacturers and most were between 5-6 oz per yard. I split the difference and use 5.5 oz.

Now when you have scraps or partial yardage of quilting cotton coming in, you can weigh it. To figure out how many yards you have, use this simple math equation:

Weight of scrap fabric ÷ Weight of 1 yard = Yardage of scrap fabric

Example: 2 oz scrap fabric ÷  5.5 oz =  .36 yards

Tracking Fabric Going Out

Personally, I track any and all fabric going out. This includes using it in a project, giving it away, or destashing it. You may choose to count those in separate categories or simply count what you've used, it's up to you. I don't count the fabric as used until I've completely finished the project. This really encourages me to finish things up.

For some projects, it's really easy to figure out how much yardage you've used. Generally speaking, if a project uses up most of a fat quarter, or other even yardage, I'll round up. If you're working from a pattern or tutorial, the materials list is a good place to start to estimate yardage.

When a project uses lots of pieces, or scraps, you could weigh the pieces before sewing. Or you could follow one of the math methods I share below.

If you don't like math or don't want to make things too complicated, go ahead and skip down to the "Other Tips" section of this post! If you'd like to be more exact with your tracking, continue reading.

Calculating Fabric Used

A lot of times what I do (because I love math), is use one of the two methods below for determining how much yardage a project has used. This may be beyond what you are willing to do and that's perfectly fine. An educated guess will get you pretty close. I'll show you the two ways that I estimate yardage based on the size of the pieces used.

Strip Method

The first way I estimate yardage used in a project is to add up the lengths of pieces that are the same (or similar) width and figure out how many 42" (WOF) strips I'd need to cut out all those pieces. So let's take my Lined Drawstring Bag Tutorial as an example:
Pieces needed: (2) 9"x10.5", (2) 4"x10.5", (2) 12.5"x10.5"
Width of all these pieces is 10.5".

Length of each piece + Length of each piece + Length of each piece = Length of pieces

9" + 4" + 12.5" = 25.5"

We need to multiply that number by 2, because you need two of each piece:

Length of pieces x 2 = Total Length

25.5" x 2 = 51"

So, we need a 51" strip that's 10.5" wide. Let's figure out now how many 42" (width of fabric) strips we need:

Total length needed ÷ Width of fabric = Number of strips needed

51" ÷ 42" = 1.2 strips

We can't have .2 of a strip, so we need to round up our 1.2 to a whole number, in this case to 2 strips.

Now we need to figure out how many inches of fabric that is:

Number of strips needed x Width of strip = Inches of yardage

2 strips x 10.5" = 21" inches of yardage

Inches of yardage ÷ Inches in a yard = Yardage used

21" ÷ 36" inches in a yard = .58 yards used

This method is more accurate than simply using the materials list in the tutorial (which calls for .75 yards), but does include some extra fabric from when we rounded up our strip to 2. For a more exact number, try the Square Inches Method found below.

Square Inches Method

Another way to determine how much yardage you've used is to calculate how many square inches of fabric the pieces make up. This is done by multiplying the length by the width of each piece. You'll also need to determine how many square inches are in a single yard. Let's do those calculations with the Lined Drawstring Bag Tutorial again:

Pieces needed: (2) 9"x10.5", (2) 4"x10.5", (2) 12.5"x10.5"

(Length x width of each piece) + (Length x width of each piece) + (Length x width of each piece) = Total square inches of pieces

(9" x 10.5") + (4" x 10.5") + (12.5" x 10.5") = 94.5 + 42 + 131.25 = 267.75 square inches

We need to multiply that number by 2, because you need two of each piece:

267.72 x 2 = 535.5 square inches

Let's figure out how many square inches are in a single yard of 42" wide fabric:

Length of 1 yard of fabric x Width of fabric = Square inches in 1 yard

36" x 42" = 1,512 square inches

Now, we can determine how many yards we've used:

Total square inches of pieces ÷ Square inches in 1 yard of fabric = Yardage used

535.5 ÷ 1,512 = .35 yards used

As you can see, this method is more exact than the Strip Method shown above. This method accounts for only the actual fabric used, and not the scraps. It is best for projects without tons of different sized pieces.

Accounting for Extra Wide Fabrics

For all my fabric coming in and out, I base my tracking off of 42" quilting cotton since that's what I use the most. (I personally use 42" instead of 44" because usually only 42" worth is usable after the selvedges) When I purchase or use fabric that is wider than 42", I convert the yardage to 42" wide yardage. I do this by using the square inches method outlined above. Let's look at an example using 58" yardage:

First we need to calculate how many square inches are in 1 yard of 42" wide fabric.

Length of 1 yard of fabric x Width of fabric = Square inches in 1 yard

36" x 42" = 1,512 square inches in 1 yard of 42" wide fabric

Now we need to calculate how many square inches are in 1 yard of 58" wide fabric.

Length of 1 yard of fabric x Width of fabric = Square inches in 1 yard

36" x 58" = 2,088 square inches in 1 yard of 58" wide fabric

To convert my 1 yard of 58" wide fabric to 42" wide yardage, I need to do the following:

Square inches of 1 yard 58" wide fabric ÷ Square inches of 1 yard 42" wide fabric = Amount of 42" wide yardage

2,088 ÷ 1,512 = 1.38 yards

So, 1 yard of 58" wide fabric is equal to 1.38 yards of 42" wide fabric. So each time I bring in or use 58" wide fabric, I will multiply the amount by 1.38 to determine my yardage to enter.

Other Tips

- This doesn't need to be stressful or complicated! If the idea of doing a bunch of math to figure out how much fabric you've used isn't appealing to you, then just make a good guess. This is meant to be helpful and motivating to you, so do what you're comfortable with. No need to overcomplicate it if that doesn't serve you.

- Be consistent. Figure out a method that works for you and stick with it.

- Track as you go. Try not to wait until the end of the month to figure out how much yardage you brought in or used. When you buy or bring in fabric, make a note. When you finish a project or destash, make a note. It's so easy to forget things if you wait! Make a habit of tracking it when it happens.

- Another advantage of tracking as you go is you're constantly checking in with your running yardage total. If I've brought in too much fabric for the month, I can adjust my sewing to try and finish a few things and make up for it. It all depends on what your goals are.

- Find a system that works for you. I find my simple Excel document works really well for me, but that might not be your style. I keep mine in my Dropbox so I can access it on my phone and add to it from anywhere. (Nerd alert!) There's nothing wrong with a pen and a notepad to keep tracking notes. Make it simple and easy for yourself to track. If it's over complicated, you're less likely to stick with it. I use complicated methods because I enjoy doing the calculations, and they don't discourage me from tracking. Know your habits and tailor your tracking to your personality.

- One of the things I do when I track my fabric yardage is round up or down to the nearest 1/8 yard. I don't use 1/3s in any of my tracking because it gives weird rounding. Keeping it to 1/8ths makes it nice and neat. Of course you may choose to round up or down however you please!

- It's okay to make exceptions. Last year, I made an exception for muslin. I didn't track the yardage of muslin I bought, and I didn't track any muslin I used. You could make exceptions for anything, solids, muslin, backings, whatever. I also didn't track any yardage of interfacing, batting, twill or ribbon. Perhaps you're trying to spend less on fabric. In that case you might only track yardage you buy, but not yardage you are given. Set an intention for your tracking and make decisions based on that.

Tracking Yarn Yardage

If you knit, crochet, or do another kind of fiber craft, tracking yarn is much more straightforward than tracking fabric. I exclusively calculate yarn yardage by weight. Most manufacturers give a weight per skein and also a yardage per skein. If the weight isn't listed on the label, a quick google (or Ravelry) search will usually pull it up. Before I start a project I weigh my yarn skein (they're often a little heavier than the stated weight). I can then use the weight to yardage ratio given by the manufacturer to calculate how much yardage I actually have.

Let's use a typical skein of worsted weight yarn as an example:

Stated weight: 100 grams
Stated yardage: 200 yards

Stated yardage ÷ Stated weight = Yardage ratio

200 yards ÷ 100 grams = 2 yards per gram

Actual weight: 105 grams

Actual weight x Yardage ratio = Actual yardage

105 grams x 2 yards per gram = 210 yards

Actual yardage: 210 yards

I don't always calculate the stated vs. actual yardage. Just depends on how exact I feel like being at any given time. Sometimes it's just easier to go by the stated yardage. Best to choose a method and stick with it.

When I finish a project, I simply weigh the leftover yarn and use the yardage ratio to calculate how many yards are leftover:

Leftover weight: 50 grams

Leftover weight x Yardage ratio = Leftover yardage

50 grams x 2 yards per gram = 100 yards

Leftover yardage: 100 yards

Then I subtract the leftover weight from the actual skein weight to figure out how much I used in the project:

Actual skein weight - Leftover weight = Weight used

105 grams - 50 grams = 55 grams

Weight used x Yardage ratio = Yardage used 

55 grams x 2 yards per gram = 110 yards used

**If you use Ravelry, you can update your stash listing with the actual weight and actual yardage of your skein. When you finish a project, enter your used weight in the "enter totals" on your project and it will calculate the yardage used for you!

Hopefully this wasn't a complete overload of information, but I wanted to be as throughout as possible. Like I mentioned, there is no right or wrong way to track yardage. You certainly don't need to make it as complicated as I do.

If you're not ready to commit to tracking for an entire year, consider trying it out for a month. It was an eye opening experience for me last year, realizing just how much fabric was coming in. It pushed me to finish projects and sew more in general. I loved doing it, and am looking forward to continuing to track my yardage this year. Overall, tracking made me more thoughtful about how I use my stash, and how I add to it.

Happy Sewing!

*Note: Any links marked with an asterisk in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click through and buy something, I make a small commission, at no extra cost to you.

2016 in Review

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Nani Iro Dreams Quilt.

I love the feeling of a fresh new year. It feels like an opportunity to start over. I struggled creatively last year. I spent a lot of time figuring out my identity after quitting fabric design. I made a lot of "just because" quilts. I indulged and cut into precious, hoarded fabrics. I said "why not" a lot more in my creative work. It has put me on a path to finding my voice again. I have a feeling it's going to be a continuing theme for the new year. But before we dive into 2017, let's take a look back at 2016.

The nice thing about tracking my yardage is I have a record of almost everything I made this year, which is cool. I'm probably I missed a few things, but I'm sure this is the best recorded year of making I've had. Some of the gifted makes still need to be shared here. Aiming for next week!

In 2016, I sewed...

13 throw (or larger) quilts, 4 baby quilts, and 3 mini quilts. (Vintage Sheet Scrappy Trip Quilt)

7 table toppers/runners. (Patchwork Halloween Projects)

5 pillows, and 2 pillowcases. (Coffin Block Pillow)

3 curtains. (Indigo Shower Curtain)

7 shirts, 4 dresses, 3 sweatshirts, and 1 pair of shorts. (Archer Popover)

21 drawstring bags, 10 pouches, 8 tote bags, 4 sew together bags, 2 maker's totes, and 2 sewing caddies. (Scrappy Patchwork Drawstring Bag)

And a myriad of other projects, like the mini patchwork stockings!

I released two patterns, the Webbed Quilt Pattern and The Elemental Tote Pattern.

2016 Fabric Stash:
Brought in: 266.875 yards
Destashed/Gifted: 267.25 yards
Sewed up: 250 yards
Net: -250.375 yards

In 2016, I knit...

7 hats, 3 pairs of mittens, 1 pair of wrist warmers, and 1 cowl. (Fiddlehead Mittens)

2016 Yarn Stash:
Brought in: 6520 yards
Destashed/Gifted: 2262 yards
Knit up: 1764 yards
Net: +2492 yards

Dreamin' Vintage Double Wedding Ring wedges.

Let's take a quick look at my 2016 goals and see how I did:

- Knit/Sew with more yardage than I buy. Make do and get creative to come up with yardage for projects.  
A+ for sewing, didn't do as well on the knitting/yarn stash. I absolutely LOVED tracking my yardage. One thing I learned and embraced about myself is how much I love to keep track of things. Knowing that each time I brought in fabric or used it up I'd need to track it was huge for me. It was often enough to make my think twice about buying fabric and it was a great motivator to get things done so that I could input it in my spreadsheet. It really opened my eyes to how much fabric I was buying and has made me look at my stash differently. I am excited to continue tracking in 2017. 

- Challenge myself to do more piecing for play/to warm up each day.  
Didn't do much of this, but have a challenge for this month to knit at least 15 minutes per day.

- Finish Double Wedding Ring Quilt Top. Make approx. 15 wedges per month for 10 months, leaving two months to assemble top. 
I fell off the wagon in July, but completed 96 wedges this year for a total of 112. I didn't make the progress I wanted but I did sew up a lot of wedges! 

- Sew through some of my garment pattern stash: Emery dress, Derby dress, Plantain Shirt, Lark Shirt, Mercer tunic, Josephine Blouse.
I made two Emery dresses, and two Josephine blouses. Still lots of patterns to work through.

- Start cutting into my Liberty fat 16th stash
I started a long-term quilt project with my Liberty stash, a scrappy churn dash quilt. I'm 5 blocks in.

- Make a list and work on works in progress (WIPs)
Finally made a list in November, but I didn't focus much on WIPs this year.

- Knit Fiddlehead Mittens.
DONE! And having been enjoying them very much.

- Knit another sweater.
Started swatching, but that's it.

- Finish Follow Your Arrow Shawl.
Tore out this project, wasn't enjoying it.

Kawaii Magic Stars Quilt.

All in all, I feel good about the progress I made with my goals last year. I'm excited to share my 2017 crafty goals with you next week. I've been sick with a cold since New Year's day, so I am feeling really antsy to get back to the sewing machine.

Goodbye 2016!