Friday, August 29, 2014

The Fundamentals

Yes, I've been away for a while... SEWING! If you can believe it :)

I was working furiously to finish my first official sewing pattern for a quilted messenger bag! This is a project that has gotten me really excited and I can't wait to share it with you. Well, let me rephrase that. I can wait to show it to you, since it's pretty late right now, but I will be thinking about it all night as I dream. Haha.

Here's a little sneak peek, since I can't help it:

In the meantime, why don't you check out this awesome post from Sew Mama Sew that came through my social media earlier this week? It's called the 12 Fundamental Quilting Skills, and is a collection of tutorials from various bloggers to get you started in your quilting education.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Shopping for Fabric

My mom came to visit last week, mostly to kiss her grandkids, but also to go SHOPPING with me! 

I am starting to design some of my own ideas for quilts and other sewing projects, and I shared a quilt design with her about a month ago. She said she loved it so much, she wouldn't mind having one of her own. Being the awesome daughter that I am, I told her I would make it for her for Christmas.

Now she wants it by her birthday, which is in 6 days. (She's joking.... I think.)

We looked online at fabric options for this KING size quilt I'm going to be making her, and she couldn't make up her mind. I designed this quilt to be made with a jelly roll as well as a layer cake, but she couldn't pick just one line of fabric and stay happy with it.

After a few visits to JoAnn Fabric in our mall, we decided we would choose our own coordinating prints. AND, they were having a 30% off sale on their quilting cottons. Never hurts to save money on fabric!

Here is what we came up with:

There were some really cute prints from Cloud9 fabrics in the 30% off section, and we pulled our other choices from JoAnn's fabric lines. Here is a closer look at some of these beauties:

I was telling a friend the other day that quilting can be quite expensive. If you buy designer quilting cottons at full price, you can spend 11-16 dollars a yard, and depending on your size of quilt, those dollars add up into hundreds. We talked about ways to get around this, to shop sales and find people willing to give you extras from their piles of fabric they have lying around. We are going to do a post soon, all about finding deals on fabric, so stay tuned!

The happy moral of this story is, I got all the fabric for my mom's king-size quilt top for $93.03, which was a savings of $37.84.

Now I can keep my eye out for good deals on backing fabric!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Ethan's Ball Backpack

Look at this adorable 2-year-old!
We were invited to a BALL-THEMED birthday party for this cutie, Ethan, and I had some fabric in my sewing desk that I thought he would love. When he opened his present and saw the balls on the fabric print, he threw the bag up in the air with glee. His mom says he does that with all balls. 

Super cute, huh? I made this in less than 2 hours, start to finish (including interruptions by three kids), so I thought it would be a great project to use to write my first tutorial.

I had some long, narrow strips of this fabric, the narrowest being 7", so I had to cut eight panels to get the outer bag and the lining. If you have larger pieces of fabric, you can skip that step. You can even use folded panels of fabric to skip sewing a seam on the bottom edge.

What you will need:
2 - 13.5" strips of fabric, or 3/4 yd
(^you can also cut 4 separate panels from 4 fat quarters)
scraps of coordinating fabric
2 - 3/4" grommets and grommet tool
2 - strands of rope/cord/straps approx 26" long
(^be sure that two strands of your cord will fit through the opening of your grommet)

Here are my sewn panels for the outside and lining of the bag: 
two at 13.5" x 14" for the outside of the bag
and two at 13.5" x 13.5" for the lining

I recommend making the lining just a tad shorter than the outside so it tucks nicely when it's finished.

I also traced two circles of coordinating fabric to make the monogram. You can be creative here and put any kind of emblem on the outside of the bag.

Sew the panels for the bag lining together (right sides touching), around 3 edges, leaving the top open:

Next, pin and sew the monogram or detail patch to the center of the front panel, moving it a little closer to the bottom so it stays flat when the drawstrings are closed:

Next, sew the two panels for the outside of the bag together (right sides touching), around 3 edges leaving the top open. HOWEVER, stop and start your seam about 1.5 or 2 inches from the top edge. This will become the hole for the drawstrings:

Iron the seams open and reinforce the opening by sewing along the edges:

This part is always tricky and easy to mess up, so pay attention before you sew:
Insert the outside of the bag (right side out)
the bag lining (wrong side and seams facing out):

Stuff it down in there and match up the side seams. Pin if desired (I usually don't for something this small):

Sew around the top of the bag with a 1/4" seam, being sure to leave several inches open in order to turn the bag.

I also make sure to line up those drawstring openings nicely before sewing over them:

Here is the top of my bag, sewn together with about 6 inches still open. I back-stitched at the beginning and end of that seam, by the way: 

Time to flip the bag right side out. It looks like this now:

There are those drawstring holes!

Now plunge that lining into the inside of the bag. Press or smooth out the top edge and be sure the fabric sits smoothly together at the opening you left. 

Using a hidden stitch or slip stitch, close up the opening:

There you have it:

You can see we're almost finished!

I like to do the bottom corners with grommets so you don't have to sew your rope/string into the seams of the backpack. I used 3/4" grommets. There is one more tool not pictured here that looks like a large, fat coin with a circle-shaped depression. That piece got lost by my kiddos, but it still works fine without. Does anyone else think of "Cracking toast, Gromit!" when they see grommets? No? ... Well, now you will.

Sew a seam to block off a small triangle on both bottom corners. NOTE: Be sure your lining is pulled up out of the way before you sew this. And back-stitch for stability:

Apply grommets to the center of each triangle -- sorry, not pictured.

You could use a coordinating thread. I kind of like to see some seams on something homemade, and for our purposes it shows you better where I've sewn. 

Next put a few reinforcing stitches across the top of the drawstring holes. I've seen some people sew a button hole here. That is an option too. I'm not great at button holes and my machine doesn't have an automatic setting for making a button hole, so this is faster and easier for me.

Stitch around the the entire bag at a seam allowance that will match up with the bottom of your drawstring holes. You can use a little piece of tape to mark a guideline on your machine if you'd like.

Sorry a few of these pictures are blurry. I was sewing fast and only took one photo of each step. Come on, it's my first tutorial. Cut me some slack. ;)

Measure two long pieces of cord/rope. Mine were 26 inches. Each one will be threaded through the bag from opposite sides. So the first one starts in the right hole, travels in a full circle around the bag, and comes out of the right hole again. The other starts in the left and comes back out of the left. 

Feed the loose ends through the grommets and tie a good knot:

BAM! You're done. Here's what it looks like open:

And here's what it looks like best of all: on the kid you made it for.

My friend and quilting tutor, Lynn

Let me tell you a little bit about Lynn Storer. She cuts fresh flowers from her garden and displays them on her kitchen table.

She started hand quilting, hand appliqueing, and doing all things tiny and meticulous with thread and needle in her young adulthood. She was one of those moms who, while raising 5 kids, always had her quilt frames up. She has quilted her way through life, told countless stories through quilts, and created beautiful works of art with her hands.

Photo bomb!

She changes which quilts to display on her bed periodically. This one tells of her ancestors who crossed over the Atlantic to settle in America. These appliques were all lovingly stitched, piece by piece, by hand.

A wedding scene of two of her ancestors

The ship that brought them to America

Lynn loves the fact that every quilt tells a story. She has shared a few of her stories with me since I've been quilting with her. 

This was a project she oversaw for a young women's group in her church. It commemorated and honored the pioneers of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS, or Mormons). She spent a good many years raising her family in Wyoming, which is a state rich with pioneer history. Each of the young women was able to work on a block of the small quilt and learn some techniques of hand quilting. Lynn catalogs her work, photographs, and inspiration in her quilt journals. 

She remarked to me how my blog is like the modern version of her quilt journals. I love this tradition! I am a strong proponent of keeping record of significant happenings in life, and my quilting has been and will continue to be a significant thread of my life story. I love how she ties the stories into her designs, like in the patriotic quilt she made for her daughter, Carol.

I hit up Lynn recently to become my Jedi Quilting Master; I wanted her to train me in her amazing craft. She LOVES teaching, so she invited me to bring a quilt top to her home and we would hand quilt it together. It sits on frames at her house between our quilting sessions. I go over there and we quilt, chat, laugh, cry, and do the macarena. Jk.

I feel blessed to hear her stories and appreciate her artistry. One of my favorite things about quilting is the sense of community it fosters, and my friendship with Lynn is a perfect example of that. I just love this lady!

I was at her house recently getting the last feather flourish done on my first border so we could finally roll the quilt -- a process a couple of months in the making! I started off being REALLY slow at hand quilting. I'm still quite slow, but my stitches are getting more uniform and tiny. This is the section I was working on on Monday. I love how the spiral feather quilting mimics the large round blooms printed on the fabric.

Here is a sample of Lynn's work on my quilt. Something for me to work toward, for sure!

And this is my very first attempt on the feathers. You can see my stitches are a little wider-spaced. I chose this ambitious design to learn on so I could practice changing the direction of my needle, stopping and starting, and the basics of hand quilting. After practicing so many of these, I am thinking when I get to the simpler patterns on the inside of the quilt, it will be a breeze!

Here is a sneak peek at the whole quilt top. It is a traditional log cabin pattern with a modern yellow and gray palette. This quilt is for my daughter Ginny, who appeared in the photo bomb. By the time I finish it, I hope she's not too big for a twin size quilt. I bring my kids with me to Lynn's house while we quilt and they play with the toys in the closet under her stairs. Sometimes they run amok and scream at each other. Sometimes they play under the quilt like it's a fort. Ginny comes to look at and touch the quilt and says, "Is this MY quilt? This one's for me, huh mama?" I just love that she can watch me creating this gift of love for her, and hope she cherishes it as much as I do when she snuggles with it.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Why I Love Crazy Old Ladies

 Once upon a time, in American Canyon, California, there lived a girl named Jamie Glenn (That's ME!). My mom was friends with Walt and Kathy Jenny (neighbors), and sometimes asked their kids to babysit us while they would go out. So Emily and Josh Jenny sometimes came to watch my brothers and me. I thought Emily was SOOO cool. I kinda had a crush on Josh and would get embarrassed and shy when he babysat us, but I digress. ;) 
One time when Emily was babysitting us, (Emily was a teenager) she drew this artwork for me.

I remember her just sitting down and free-handing this, my name, in several fonts. I also thought it was SOOO cool. I'm not a pack-rat AT ALL, so it's kind of a miracle I still have this. I found it in a binder I used in elementary school to keep all my awards and certificates. My mom delivered it to me several years ago as she was trying to rid her house of all the junk we kids had left behind.

<<<Fast forward 20 or so years>>>

We meet again! We both have new last names. Emily followed her artistic and creative dreams to become a successful quilter, pattern designer, and fabric designer extraordinaire. I have always admired her creativity and I too, followed an artistic path, taking art classes through high school and into college. My career path then took a pretty drastic turn toward nursing and midwifery, but I have still dabbled and frolicked in creative endeavors in my adult life.

Emily's mom and my mom, Kathy and Shawn, were walking around the neighborhood one day discussing my family's recent decision to enter the world of quilting/fabric/sewing. Before I knew it, Emily Herrick sent me a message on Facebook, asking me to elaborate on my quilting hopes and dreams. She also invited me to her house, to which I graciously and happily obliged! We toured her studio/work space and talked about how she started her company, Crazy Old Ladies. She told me how she got started in 'the biz' and gave me some great guidance as I get going with my quilting dreams. We also talked about midwifery and babies, one of my other favorite subjects. Is there anything more fun than sitting with another woman and discussing fabric and birth stories?? I think not.

What are we to learn from this little story? Babysitters change lives. And diapers. (Just kidding). The Jenny family is very artistic and creative. The other brother that babysat us, Josh, went on to work as an artist for Pixar and has probably worked on tons of movies, but the one I know for sure is the movie "Up". Walt (Emily's dad) is also a creative genius, skilled pianist, and amazing photographer. His career most of the time I knew him growing up was staging displays for retail stores like JC Penney.

Kathy Jenny has many talents, including baking and decorating beautiful cakes for weddings and other special events... When I was at Emily's house this month, one of her sons and her daughter were making play dough creations while we chatted. Apparently the cake decorating genes also run in the family...

It was so great to re-connect with Emily and be inspired by her. She sent me on my way with some goodies to get me started in my creative journey: A book she designed a mini-quilt for, called Fun-Size Quilts,

Some fat eighths of her gorgeous new fabric line for Michael Miller fabrics, Rustique,

Some fat eighths of S'more Love by Eric and Julie Comstock of Cosmo Cricket for Moda,

Fat quarters of Maasai Mara by Dear Stella designs,

and last but not least, fat quarters of Wildwood by Erin McMorris for Free Spirit.

Can't wait to get creating with these fun fabrics! 
Thanks again, Emily, for the advice and the goodies. Follow her, everyone. She is amazing. I hope I can be like her when I grow up. :)