Friday, February 5, 2016

ugly christmas sweaters?

Do you like a fun little projects where you sew the same thing along with other patchworkers or sewist? I think it is a lot of fun and I really enjoyed the Sew A-Long (SAL) with Quiet Play two years ago when Kristy had her Sew Kitschy SAL. I enjoyed using fussy cut prints to fit into the 10" blocks she created everything around the kitchen. Well, I have been itching for another SAL or Quilt A-Long (QAL) with exactly the same drive, anticipation, and challenges. Lorna, at Sew Fresh Quilts has delivered!

First of all, I wanted to participate in Lorna's SAL, the ugly Christmas sweaters. I missed her fabulous Dog Gone Cute and Elephant Parade SALs and didn't want to miss another one of her cute quilts!! She is absolutely amazing when it comes to the cutest patterns and quilts. I downloaded her lovely printable diagram and started brainstorming. Then I realized that the center blocks were six inches. I might just have an quick and easy way to fulfill the SAL and use some of my stash.

I remembered I had bought this fabulous panel from Henry Glass a couple of years ago. I actually loved it so much, I bought a second one. I knew I wanted to make some kind of Christmas quilt with it, but didn't quite have a plan.

Holiday Frost Panel by Jan Shade Beach for Henry Glass Pattern 9511P
I thought about writing a blog post about what you could do with these fabulous panels and made one star block to show you can make blocks with the fussing cut prints. I also made a "Kirschkernkissen" or cherry seed sack for warming (in the microwave) and applying to your aching muscles or a sore tummy. I thought both were cute but I put the fabrics away for another day. I forgot about the blog post too.

Friendship Star Block and Kirschkernkissen made with Panel

When I realized these panels were just over 6.5 inches, I decided I could use them for the sweater motifs. These would work perfectly for the center blocks in Lorna's sweaters and look pretty cool actually. I wouldn't have to make the new blocks! This would be a perfect fit to use up the panel, make a Christmas quilt (my first ever) and participate in the #uglychristmassweaterssal. 

I pulled some fabrics I bought at Quilt et Textilkunst in Munich last year right before Christmas. I just loved the red/gray/and turquoise mix. The other fabrics are from Wilmington Fabrics, two being from Debbie Mumm. I made my first sweater using these fabrics that went perfectly well with the Henry Glass panel and coordinating prints. The directions were super easy to follow too. Lorna does a very well job at writing easy-to-read directions that even I can follow! My first block took about one and a half hours to make. Finished!

My First Ugly Christmas Sweaters SAL Block

I immediately had to make a second block, because they were just too cute and went so fast. And no, it didn't take as long as the first one. But I couldn't stop! These were getting cuter and cuter. Since I didn't have a lot of the original Debbie Mumm fabric - maybe 30 cm, I realized the Henry Glass fabric was a perfect match to the original red I was using. I pulled out the gray and everything was just falling into place. And the best part about all came from my stash!! Yes, I am sewing my stash off!

Two days later, I have a total of six sweaters! My blue turquoise fabric is getting a little tight, but I know where I found it if I need to buy more. I can get it right here in Germany in Munich. So, here are my six ugly Christmas sweaters. Aren't they just so cute!!?? I would like to come up with three other variations of the original sweater with changing neck, cuffs and bottom just to change it up a bit. Do you have any ideas?

Six Blocks Made

I think that is it for now. I have to join life again and back to the really important stuff. (I was getting just a little bit obsessed there!) The kids have Faschingsferien next week, so there will probably be NO SEWING for me. That's okay. The end of next week finishes with a long sewing weekend in a monastery with my patchwork group and quilty friends. 

If you are looking for a fun and easy Sew A-Long, I highly recommend Lorna's Ugly Christmas Sweaters SAL. It is sew much fun! Thanks for stopping by!

By the way, can you think of other ways to use a fabric panel? Please share with us.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

project sewing room: a new addition

I started the project: sewing room a couple of years to document the changes/additions I make to my sewing room. Along the years, I have wanted to make updates and improvements to my sewing room, but I am a true minimalist at heart. Okay, if you want to know the truth, I don't know the first thing about interior design. Along with being conditioned not to collect things since I moved around a lot, I tried to keep the minimum around without having to throw it away the next time I moved. I have two new milestone improvements to my sewing room! Yeah!

The most important addition is my thread rack. For years now, I have been asking my sewing friends what they use for storing their threads. Katrin of Cattinka uses this really cool idea of storing her threads on baking sheets. Her husband made a really cool storage rack for it too. I was definitely jealous when I saw hers. I even went out and bought a bunch of supplies to make my own thread rack, and my husband kindly asked me to return the items so he could "think of something" and make it himself. You see, I had specifics...I wanted a thread rack that enclosed my thread, and you could see it all at a glance.

As months stretched on to a year, he came up with a plan, not to make the shelf, but rather "have it made." I was okay with that. Of course, it always (sentimentally) means a little bit more when your sweetheart makes something for you, but if we could find it a little cheaper and didn't have to worry about building it, that would be okay too. He did his research (my husband LOVES TO DO RESEARCH) and found an awesome place to have the rack made - vitrine24.

"Sammelvitrine" for Thread

The rack or "display case" is custom-made with the measurements 19 1/2 inches x 29 inches or 50cm x 75cm. It is separated into two parts. The top part and bottom part are equal in size, but you can have it adjusted and made however you wish. Both parts have two, clear Plexiglas doors that slide open from the sides. There are NO SPOOL INSERTS. I just wanted a place to "display" my thread and keep it free of dust.

The second addition to my sewing room is a pin board. I bought a cork panel ~ 50 x 90 cm from the local home building and supply store (BayWa) and inserted three, metal picture hangers into each side and in the middle on the back to hang it up.

Picture Hanger Screw

I use it for notes and smaller blocks. The mini quilt or block pictured here in green is a free form creation from my daughter (8 years old). She made it all by herself! Seriously, I totally let my kids sew on my machine and I DON'T watch over them. : )

Do-it-Yourself Pin Board

If you think my room is nice and tidy, it is when everything is cleaned up and put away. Since I am right in the middle of a couple of projects, the "in-progress material" was temporarily relocated. : )

If you are wondering why I didn't install the thread shelf above my sewing table, there are two reasons, actually three.
  1. The pin board was already installed before the thread rack. That means, there were already holes in the wall. We can't go making more holes now can we?
  2. I like to see my colorful threads. At the table, I wouldn't be able to see anything if I am sitting there. 
  3. I might change my room layout around in the near future. My sewing table would go where the cutting table now is. Then the threads would be at my back.
What is next on the list for sewing room improvements? Hmm. I have been wanting a new chair. I don't think I want a computer chair, but something more stylish could do. I like my wedge cushion and don't think I could throw that away. : )

Thanks for stopping by. Next time, give me a call and I'll brew a special coffee just for us!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

a new journey of circles

Last year I participated in a lot of smaller swaps and made loads of pillow covers but only finished one large quilt - my easypatchwork Advanced Sampler (which I have not shown simply due to its large size). This is hard for me to believe, because I started out making only bed and lap size quilts. I love to "use" my quilts. I generally do not display my quilts nor my finished patchwork pieces; you might not even get that I am a quilter if you entered my home. My large quilts, on the other hand, are completely in use. We have our favorites around here which stay neatly folded in the living room.

Leaves a'Flutter, American Primer and the Man's Quilt are our favorites!

I decided I want to make another large quilt this year and have been looking around to see what really interests me. After more than 10 years of quilting, I want to sew what really interests me. Last year, it was on a journey of 60° triangles. And this year, circles seem to be catching my attention.

NOTE: I love men's quilts! I have always loved men's rugged, outdoor clothing-style. I still love it and realize I need this warm feeling in my living room. In total contrast to my sewing room which is white on white on white wood, my living room is dark on dark wood with a dark red sofa and dark quilts. I am not typically drawn to white/bright and colorful quilts for actual use. They just don't "comfort me." What is your opinion about this?

Around October last year, I started picking out circular designs that interested me and started writing them down to explore them in further detail. I first made the Little Bits Mug Rug by Alexia Marcelle Abegg. Honestly, that was one of the hardest circle designs I have sewn other than an adapted Western Compasses due to the tiny bock size of three inches. Segments less than one inch are hard to sew with a curved seam.

LBMR - Sewn with Timeless Treasure Tong Treat Batiks
One pattern that really caught my eye is this one from Denyse Schmidt. It doesn't look like a typical, traditional Drunkard's Path block. I like the white background and white segments included to make the "path" look more like a cogwheel. I was totally mesmerised by this block/quilt.

Pattern from Denyse Schmidt written in 2009
I ordered the pattern. Then I realized, Denyse Schmidt designs fabric too; fabric that I love!! (I actually have bought her fabric in the past, but didn't think too much about fabric designers or their styles nor my style.) I tried to order fabric around Christmas to maximize my € through sales in the United States. I was not successful as I wanted to be. My challenge was this: I didn't want to use just one collection; I wanted to use them all!! My basic color scheme was black, brown and some bright colors. I mapped out the quilt in my head and started ordering a few fabrics primarily from her Katie Jump Rope collection.

Denyse Schmidt Fabrics from the new Katie Jump Rope and (older) Franklin
After reading the pattern a few times, I decided I wanted to make the quilt with Robert Kaufman's Essex Linen in Linen and not Robert Kaufman's Bone as written. I thought natural linen might be too strong in color. It is also rather hard to interpret from a PC monitor what a color really looks like; I do not have any fabric store close by that sells RK linens. I looked around some online shops in Germany and in the US. Not one store sold all of these fabrics!! (The Essex Linen in Linen is almost bright white.)

Now it was going to get serious! It is not cheap to import great quilting fabrics. For every order I make, I have to include 25€ for shipping and add 20% (of the total order + shipping) for German Sales Tax (Mehrwertsteuer). Import tax is not included on orders less than 150€ (if I remember correctly.) When I make an order, I try to spend about 100€/$ to maximize my spending. I had to see exactly how much of each fabric I needed! How?

My New Collection of DS Fabric Charms
 Easy! I recreated the quilt with EQ7 so I could see how the fabrics played together and to find out the quantities of each fabric used. (Although my quilts usually look different than the planned idea, it is a great starting point.) I need a few more oranges and yellow and maybe another blue or green. I changed the colors and fabrics to my taste. I printed out my fabric requirements and checked off what I already had (ordered just two weeks ago.)

Planning it all Out

I looked for one shop that had all of my fabrics but that was not possible. No one had them all. In the end, I ordered from four different shops; Fabricworm for the original pattern, the Fat Quarter Shop, Pink Castle Fabrics and and am still waiting on a couple of fabrics. Once again, I had to maximize my spending and ordered a few more things too. Because if I am going to spend some money, I should buy more more beautiful fabric as well, don't you think?

And this is the last shipment. It literally arrived just 10 minutes ago. You know what that means don't you? Time to get started.

Last Shipment of Fabrics - now I must stop writing and start working!!
First up, washing fabric. I don't normally pre-wash except for backing fabric, but if the fabric/pattern designer writes that, then I must do it.

Thanks for dropping by!
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