Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Cozy Afternoon BOM: The Christmas Critters are Finished!

My Cozy Christmas Quilt went for a photoshoot today at Clark County Museum.
Cozy Afternoon in the Wintertime Gazebo!
Finished Size 64" Square
The Sew-along and Bloghop for the Cozy Afternoon BOM was a highlight for 2015! (the link is to the Pinterest Board if you are interested in seeing different versions!)
Hosted by Jacquelynne Steves, my version is based upon the theme fabric from her line "Joy, Love, Peace, Noel". 
The little critters I embroidered were enlarged from the theme fabric, and now take center stage.
I used crayons to color them, heat-set the wax, then washed the fabric in hot water and pressed it again prior to stitching.
With some trial and error, the Crayola Crayon's used with a very heavy-hand worked the best.
Mr. Mouse was the first block!
Embroidery on quilts is new for me! After seeking Barbara's (Cat Patches) advice for quilting the blocks, I decided to closely outline the stitching and used a loopy fill much like the larger loops I used in the background areas.
The Free Motion Quilting is stitched with Aurifil 50wt threads, using my Juki TL-98E.
The backing is pieced from a long-stashed snowflake print, plus a bit of the StudioE bias check I love so much. I used Ingeo Fiber batting, a manmade fiber using "ingredients from the earth" (plants). It behaves much like polyester - kinda puffy and holds it shape well. For seasonal quilts, I like a batting that can handle storage without permanently creasing.
For the flanged binding, I followed the tutorial for Susie's Magic Binding at 52 Quilts, except I cut my strips a bit more narrow at 1 5/16" (navy), and 1.5"(accent red). Attached to the back at just over 1/4", it was a perfect wrap to the front to stitch in the ditch for a quick finish with a bit more accent!
Following the link, you can also find a video. The other tip I suggest for this type binding is to sew the strip lengths together prior to joining them into one long strip. The diagonal seams will all in the same place this way, making it easier to avoid landing their bulk in a corner.

This feels like the perfect finish to wrap up 2015! I have had a fun and productive year, and am very thankful to have met so many quilter's through blogging. Thank you for joining me in celebration!

Fort Worth Fabric Studio

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Top Five in 2015 - Quilted Smalls!

Choosing FIVE favorite posts for 2015 was not as easy as I thought it would be!
As I strolled through blog posts to select those to share with Cheryl's Linkup Party over at Meadow Mist Designs, I found myself reflecting on what has really motivated me this year.

Best of 2015 Linky Party

It is pretty clear that I like to create impulsively. This planning ahead thing feels like an oxymoron, at least as it pertains to quilty endeavors!
That said, I do like to actually finish quilts and I find that participating with goal-setting linkups really helps push me! Later this week, I will share quilts I have finished this year, thanks to so-said FAL's.
(byw, what will we do without ALYoF?!!)

Reflecting on my year really has me thinking about this tendency, that is to become distracted.
And this is the thought process which led to five favorite, impulsive finishes for 2015.

ALL of these are SMALL projects!
1. KitchenAid Cozy (March 2015), made for the Project Quilting Challenge at Persimmon Dreams.

 (NOTE - Project Challenge 2016 begins January 3rd!)

2. Sweet Liberty Table Runner (May 2015), pattern tested for Julie at Intrepid Thread

3. 'One Sketchy Bee' (June 2015), Bookcover made to surprise Lara at BuzzN'Bumble!

4. All-American Lunch Tote (September 2015), made (with humor!) for the Bag it! Challenge hosted by Elm Street Quilts.

5. I made a lot of bags and pouches this year! It was hard to choose...
My favorite would be these two, inspired by the "wilderness" theme for Le Challenge.
I kept one and ran a giveaway for the other!
Wilderness Pouches.  (Sept 2015)

To me, these celebrate the online quilting community, and friendships built through blogging.

So, there you have it! My favorite projects, and therefore my favorite blog posts, are the small, spontaneous items inspired by online challenges and linkups!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Journey of Donna's Stars: A Finished Quilt with a Cautionary Tale

Today I share the bittersweet story of a finished quilt.
"Sweet" because it is finished.
The story of it's journey is a bit of a "Bitter" one for me though, due to a bleeding nightmare that resulted in the faded colors pictured above.

It all began in March 2014, with some of Donna's favorite batiks, pre-washed and cut into strips.
Blocks were completed and I posted layout options in June 2014.
So, it was 18 months in the quilting - different sections at a time and continuously interrupted by other projects while I made decisions about how to quilt different areas.
Look how pretty those colors were!
Here is where the nightmare began:
Once quilted, the quilt came out pretty square and flat. Because all the fabrics were pre-shrunk, I thought I would skip the tub-bath and blocking process I often use before I attach binding. I had set red fabric aside for the binding but it did not look pre-washed when i went to use it. I couldn't really recall, so I gave it a hand wash and the water turned bright red. I rinsed and washed three more times, and the water continued to turn red.
The reds were purchased in 2014 from my local quilt shop, just for this quilt.  
Top of the line (Bali's?)
I read, and read, whatever I could find online about saving quilts...

And then I went about dealing with it:
I purchased Synthrapol at the art supply store. My LSC does not stock it, nor do they provide any advice in dealing with bleeding fabrics, nor did they seem to care one bit about the fabric culprit I kindly reported to them, that is still shelved in their store...hmph...

It is advised online to use Synthrapol with hot water and as much water as possible. I started by using the product to wash the red binding fabric by hand and I was able to rinse it out with clear water results.
Encouraged, I took the quilt to the Suds Shop...
I wasn't sure if I should use fabric magnet sheets in combination with the Synthrapol, but I did, and I could see them turning color in the machine while it worked.
After holding my breath for 28 minutes, the background looked pretty white when I took it out.
I folded the damp sandwich in some muslin, and felt hopeful as I packed her into the car.
Once home, I blocked it out on linoleum flooring.
Unfortunately, it was only a couple hours before the dreaded dyes began bleeding through to the backside of the quilt. Pictured here while still damp, as the dye began to seep..
I thought maybe not all the Synthrapol had rinsed out, perhaps continuing to draw dye out as it dried.
A bit forlorn, yet I persevered:
Next, I attached the binding and finished it by hand.
Back at the laundromat, we shot a before picture. Most of the damage was directly behind the red fabrics. This photo only shows the bleeding to the back of the multi-colored star.
Plus two areas of red in the background, on the frontside. 
The Synthrapol wash was repeated, and the red spots were still there. I then resorted to a back up plan, a color-out product I had picked up at the grocery.
Following directions on the package, I gave her another wash and it did work to remove dye from the White Kona.
Once dry, it was ready for final inspection. I noticed the faded colors, but nothing doing. Finishing Donna's Stars was my December goal for A Lovely Year of Finishes, as well on my Q4 list, and I was in a bit of a rush to package and ship, so it was a quick trip outside for photographs !
The random spots are gone and although a wee bit of dye is present on the back, the bleeding is far less noticeable overall.
 However, the fabrics do have quite a bit of fading.

Here is what I really want to share with you:
I think the fading could have been avoided.
Just last week, after washing my quilt, I found this great article by Vicki Welsh. I encourage you to click the button, read Vicki's advice, and save the article!

Vicki Welsh

 Donna's Stars
 A special quilt for my DMIL!

Celtic Thistle StitchesMy Button

2015 FAL at On the Windy Side

Monday, December 14, 2015

Le Challenge SPACE for Art Pens!

This month's Space challenge lured me to use some lovely Handmaids fabric from Quilting Treasures, to make storage bags and organize my art pens!

I used a heavyweight wool fabric to line the pencil roll that now holds my set of 24 Lyra watercolors.

The pouch holds all my fabric pens.
The pens are made by Evanscraft for Cross Stitch purposes, they work as well on fabric as Pigma Microns. I really treasure them because, unfortunately, they are no longer available.

I covered some foam-core board to stabilize the bottom.

The top fabric is almost like a burlap, perhaps a linen though I am unsure. Found the perfect little charm at Michael's!

Thank you so much Lucy, and Nat, for this month's Le Challenge theme, 'Space', that has prompted me to organize a bit!

Le Challenge

I am also linking these up with Bag It! at Elm Street Quilts - today is the last day of this fun challenge!

Elm Street Quilts

Sew Mama Sew Giveaway Winner!

Wow! I am still actually reading through all the wonderful comments left this past week in response to my Giveaway Post linked at Sew Mama Sew. Many people left recommendations for books, enough to keep me busy in the next year (or two, haha!). Several titles received more than one kudos and those will top my to-do's, (sounds like Girl on a Train is a must-read!). It is wonderful to have this list to refer to when I am ordering books at the library - thank you all!

I found several new-to-me blogs linking from comments as well, one of my favorite parts of the bi-annual Giveaway Day!

And an exciting new QAL for 2016 called, "Play with Me" that will be hosted by Alida at a new site she is setting up. I think the idea is genius: The blocks are all Game Boards!

You may know Alida from her current blog Tweety Loves Quilting. Alida posted a giveaway winner today, as well as good information about No-Reply Bloggers that may interest you! I was delighted to read that Heather won her giveaway! Heather made a mini for me last year for the Sister Swap. She is a follower here, and one (of many) whose comments I read, and secretly hope will win my drawing:)

There can only be one winner though! My husband, Ty is the Randomizer, and the number selected this morning is "32".

"June D  I'm going to participate in the Stash Bee in 2016, looking forward to learning new things and making new friends. Thanks for the chance!"

Congratulations June!  
This lovely package will be sent to you once I receive a mailing address!
June has also won a downloadable pattern for this sweet PiNS cushion, courtesy of a new pattern design shop on Etsy, Sugar-Free Quilts!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Sew Mama Sew Giveaway Day!

Hope y'all have set aside some surfing time this week because... 
It's Giveaway Day, the Ultra-Fun Semi-Annual linkup hosted by Sew Mama Sew!

I love this opportunity to share some favorite things, and to meet new blogger's! 
The giveaway bundle I have put together includes:
One Vintage Market 5" Stacker, by Tasha Noel
Three Fat Quarters of the three prints shown, also by Tasha Noel, from her line "Country Girls".
One Handmade Scissor Cozy, plus whatever happens to jump inside it... and..
One downloadable PiNS pincushion pattern, by Sugar Free Quilts!
I really enjoyed making this over-sized cushion last month. It is large, and fully-lined, making it very durable - mine is getting a lot of use!

If you are new to my blog, Welcome!
I blog for fun..
Sponsor-free and Ad-free..

Today, I have selected a few of my favorite links that I hope you find useful and inspiring:

I made four Scissor Cozies last month, using the tutorial from S.O.T.A.K. Handmade.
You could say I have been on a bit of a bag-kick as of late. I was spurred on by Bag It!, running through the 14th at Elm Street Quilts. Patty has tempted us with tutorials for weeks now, and has encouraged us to enter any bags we make for the chance to win goodies from her sponsors!

This week, I have finished two more bags for the Bag It challenge. Jewelry rolls for traveling!

I over-dyed the fabric for the top case, using an ice-dyeing method and Procion Dyes. Pictured in the background: A Kona swatch placed playfully under the rack in the tub I used,  in the "drainage". It came out better than the bird fabric and I ended up soaking the main fabric again.
Well, more dyeing in my future and I will be sure to post about it!
Two years ago, I made two of these jewelry rolls , guided by the tutorial at Haberdashery.
I kept my corners squared to avoid making bias binding, and I attached my zippers on top of the vinyl. You can read about that HERE if interested. Those first two are a practical size for weekend getaways, but the recipients of my newest rolls travel quite a bit so these are a bit larger.
Lots of little travel-type fabrics selected...
Pink Roses line the inside.
I used beads for the tie-off ends, and little jewelry-stops for the other one.
Thick felt insets are added inside the pockets. These are helpful to keep things cozy and stable.

Five new buttons are on my sidebar that may interest you: 
1. Quilty 365, a Block a Day hosted by Quilty Folk - start anyday you like!
2. Word of the year 2016 - make a mini and enter to win!
3. RSC2016 Monthly Scrap Challenge
4. Sew Simple Saturdays - A new, monthly linkup to share tips and tutorials for prizes!
5. Quilty Orpan Adoption - A giveaway linkup with prize incentives, coming again this Spring!

On with the Giveaway, right? 

Please leave a comment here, prior to midnight (Vegas Time!), on Sunday, Dec.13th.
I would love to know what Sew Along's you are participating with, or perhaps good book you have recently read!
If you are a current, or new Bloglovin follower, leave another comment for a second entry.
If you follow RedLetterFabrics on Etsy, leave a comment for a third entry. 

Finally, Thank you so much for visiting! 
Due to the high volume, I will not be able to reply to comments as I usually do!
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